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Kestrel (Marvel Comics)

Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Wolverine (vol. 2) #60 (september 1992)
Created by Larry Hama
In-story information
Alter ego John Wraith
Species Human Mutant
Team affiliations Weapon X
Team X
Notable aliases Expediter
Abilities Teleportation
Slowed aging

John Wraith, also known as Kestrel, is a character in the Marvel comics fictional universe.

Fictional character biography

Kestrel/John Wraith was a member of Team X and later a test subject of the Weapon X Program.[1] He was part of Team X along with Wolverine, Sabretooth, Maverick, Mastodon, and Silver Fox. John Wraith was a powerful teleporter, capable of getting the team out of sticky situations after their job was finished. He had a penchant for explosives, arming himself with shaped charges, explosives that were built to direct the force of their blast in specific directions based on how they are deployed. Like the other members of Team X, he was given an artificial age suppressant so he was likely much older than he looked. His time as a secret agent and a member of the Weapon X program left John somewhat paranoid. His house was a veritable death trap, as was the yard around it; John trusted no one.[2]

He made a habit of keeping his skill a secret from his compatriots as well as his foes, using it only sparingly, and if no one was looking directly at him — unless it was absolutely vital. The only time when his fellow Team-X members found out about his powers was when they went up against Omega Red. John was backup on that mission that Wolverine, Maverick, and Sabretooth ran in Germany to collect a carbonadium synthesizer, and when that trio burst out of the target compound with Red in pursuit, John stalled him with his gun until the others got away. Unfazed, Omega went to wrap John up and tear him to pieces, but John teleported to safety at the last second, with only Wolverine and Omega Red seeing this. There was also a certain animosity between him and Sabretooth. He was about as violent as his fellows from the Weapon X program, but a lot more merciful and didn't enjoy killing innocents while on a mission, which put him at odds with people like Sabretooth. Sabretooth once languished for quite a time in John's basement with several shaped charges strapped to his chest. Unless he had a really good reason to, Sabretooth wouldn't lift a finger to help John.[2]

Years later, John had tracked Wolverine and the rest of his old teammates down because it seemed that there was a problem with the age suppression factors given to them by Weapon X, as one of their number, Mastodon, had suddenly aged quite rapidly and been reduced into a pile of ooze. With their help, John discovered a list of termination candidates from the Weapon X project. They recognized themselves on the list plus a man named Aldo Ferro, who they knew was a big time mafia chief, Il Topo Siciliano. They tracked Ferro to his secluded island where they discovered Maverick guarding him. Maverick soon changed sides when Ferro, aka. Psi-Borg, revealed that he was the one who used his psi-powers to speed the false memory implantation of the Weapon X subjects. After this fiasco, John hung out with Wolverine for a month or two, but then vanished.[2]

Wraith was later re-recruited into Weapon X by the "Director" and his mission was to recruit Maverick as well. However, Maverick fought back and Wraith was shot and then had his neck broken by Sabretooth, who was planning on betraying the Program and couldn't trust Wraith. He was left for dead, but managed to survive.[3]

John Wraith turns up alive and later became a preacher and was visited by Wolverine who confided in Wraith during soul-searching instigated by his being somewhat skeptical of his new start in life. However a demon later possessed Wolverine's body (referred to as Hellverine) and lured Wraith into a trap by killing one of his parishioners. Whilst exiting the chapel and locking the parishioners inside so as to ensure they would not come to any more harm, Wraith armed himself with an assault rifle and set off to stop Logan's rampage only to be caught in one of his own traps, where he came face to face with Hellverine who managed to cast a spell of sorts on him, causing an assortment of deadly creatures (including scorpions and snakes) to crawl all over his body; seemingly killing him. Hellverine then directed its attention to Wraith's church (which was still locked with the parishioners inside) and used its demonic powers to set the building ablaze. Wraith emerged from nowhere and tried in vain to stop the demon, but was critically wounded by its claws. Helpless, Wraith could only watch as the parishioners were burned alive as he lay dying, as he was now depowered and could no longer teleport.[4]

Powers and abilities

Wraith had the psionic ability to phase-jump; meaning he could seemingly disappear at will from any point in space and appear at another, with what would appear to be an exceptionally high range. He could move about space at will, appearing and disappearing in a fashion that left no flashy burst of light or sound and he could even take others with him. He also had a life-extending serum in his blood, due to his involvement in the Weapon X program. He liked using "shaped charges," bombs whose blasts are precisely controlled.

Other versions

Ultimate Marvel

Colonel John Wraith
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics (Ultimate Marvel Imprint)
First appearance Ultimate X-Men #2
Created by Mark Millar
Adam Kubert
In-story information
Team affiliations Alpha Flight
Weapon X
Notable aliases Vindicator, Colonel John Wraith
Abilities flight
ability to fire energy blasts

Unlike his mainstream mutant counterpart, the Ultimate Marvel version of John Wraith is a Caucasian male. Colonel John Wraith was a mutant-hating commando who, according to Charles Xavier, was in charge of the world's first mutant concentration camp. He was sanctioned by S.H.I.E.L.D. to head the barbaric Weapon X Program, which specialised in capturing mutants and forcing them to carry out covert missions for the US government. The program was co-headed by a Dr. Abraham Cornelius. He and his men (all who have anti-mutant sentiments as well) managed to capture and subject a Canadian para-trooper named James "Lucky Jim" Howlett to experiments which wiped his memories clean and bonded his skeleton with adamantium. They christened him Weapon X and gave him the fake name Logan. Wraith and his men enjoyed tormenting Logan by teasing him with bits and pieces of his lost memories and also caging him and shooting him day and night since he could not die due to his mutant healing factor. This conditioned Logan to become the perfect killing machine, or so they thought.[5]

During the Gulf War they were transporting Logan in the desert, preparing him for deployment, but his transport team was ambushed and Logan was accidentally set loose. Stumbling across a younger Nick Fury, who was also taken by surprise by the same ambush, Logan rescued him and brought him back to base camp. Colonel Wraith, who was surprised that Logan retained his humanity by not killing Fury, ordered his men to shoot and cage Logan once again. He told Fury not to worry about Logan since he was nothing more than a living weapon. A couple of years later, Fury returned the favor to Logan by helping him escape from the Weapon X facility.[6]

Wraith sent Sabretooth, another one of his mutant agents, after Logan, but he came back empty-handed. Wraith then began capturing other mutants to take Logan's place, mutants including Nightcrawler, Rogue and Cain Marko. When he received news that Logan was headed back to America (unknown to them as an assassin for Magneto), he and his men again attempted to recapture Logan, only to have their plans foiled by the X-Men. Wraith's face was scarred by Logan's claws. In retribution, Wraith ordered the capture of the X-Men, but again he failed to catch Logan.[volume & issue needed]

He had Xavier hooked up to machines to harness the Professor's telepathy in order to help him find other potential candidates for the program. The mutants imprisoned at the Weapon X facility were tortured on a daily basis; Rogue's arm was broken regularly and molten metal was poured on Colossus to test his durability. It was also during this time that Beast was mutated even further by Dr. Cornelius. To keep them in line, Wraith had implanted micro explosives into them and if anyone got out of line or tried to escape, it was their friends who would pay the price.[7]

The X-Men's first major mission forced them to split up. One team was assigned to free Nick Fury who had been captured by a foreign country, while the other team was assigned to destroy a new bio-weapon being developed by terrorists. Jean Grey was given the order to execute one of the scientists they had captured, but she refused. Wraith threatened to detonate Cyclops' implants for her insubordination, at which point she was forced to kill someone for the very first time.[volume & issue needed]

When General Ross threatened to phase out Weapon X, Wraith used Xavier to dispose of the general with a mental explosion. Wolverine was eventually captured, but unknown to them he had secretly led the Brotherhood to the facility in an attempt of freeing the imprisoned mutants. When the mutants began to break free, Wraith shot Xavier and attempted to flee in a helicopter. Blob held onto Wraith's helicopter, but eventually he lost his grip. Storm tried to zap Wraith with lightning, but Nightcrawler saved the Colonel who in turn tried to kill Nightcrawler. Nick Fury killed Wraith and declared that all the mutants at the facility were free to go.[8]

Canadian government forces saved Wraith's life by injecting him with the Banshee drug, and he was made leader of Alpha Flight. He also gained superpowers. Wraith decided to call himself Vindicator. His team went to retrieve Northstar, which led the X-Men to find out that Wraith's team all use Banshee.[9] After the Ultimatum wave, Rogue sought out Wraith who found out his identity during a previous battle when some of the X-Men went to rescue Northstar. She convinced him to help her kill Magneto. He needed a few more people to help with this mission, so he and Rogue captured Sabretooth and Juggernaut to reform Weapon X.[10]

In other media


  • In the X-Men Evolution episode "Target X," Omega Red references both Maverick and Kestrel to Wolverine, mentioning "Wraith" during a rundown of his Weapon X adversaries.
  • In Wolverine and the X-Men, Colonel Moss (voiced by Michael Ironside) is based on the Ultimate Marvel version of John Wraith. He heads up the Mutant Response Division and has some vendetta against Wolverine (Moss has claw marks across his face thanks to Logan at some point in the past). He was a former head of Weapon X. In the Sentinel-dominated future, he is a cyborg who handles putting power dampeners on mutants in prisons. Whenever his biological half is compromised by a telepath, his Sentinel mode would take over.


  • In the 2009 feature film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, John Wraith is portrayed by recording artist (of The Black Eyed Peas).[11] Wraith, a teleporting mutant, is a member of Team X, also consisting of James "Logan" Howlett, Victor Creed, Wade Wilson, Agent Zero, Chris Bradley, and Fred Dukes, under the leadership of William Stryker. While initially loyal to the team, Wraith eventually quits the team due to morality issues (he, like Logan, did not like the killing the team did but was forced to follow orders anyway, such as abducting fellow mutants, under Stryker's employment) and becomes a boxing manager. He appears to be the one member whom Wolverine fully trusts, being the first whom he pays a visit after so many years. When Wolverine arrives for information about Stryker's base, he tells him to ask Dukes, who is now obese and is boxing to keep in shape. Before giving Logan any information, Dukes challenges Logan to a boxing match. Logan wins thanks to his new adamantium skeleton, and Dukes directs him toward Remy LeBeau, an escaped captive. Wraith goes with Wolverine which leads them to a casino in Louisiana. Wraith guards the back, only to be confronted by Creed. Knowing that he killed Bradley, Wade and apparently Dukes, Wraith fights Creed with the intention of killing him, despite having agreed to leave him for Wolverine. Wraith uses his teleportation ability to his advantage and manages to strike Creed multiple times, but Creed, predicting Wraith's move, eventually grabs Wraith's spine by positioning his hand in exactly the right place to grab it as Wraith appears, mortally wounding him. Creed takes a sample of Wraith's blood and his teleportation ability is used for Weapon XI/Deadpool.[12]

Video games

  • In the X-Men Origins: Wolverine game, Wraith is voiced by He first appears when Wolverine is rescuing him from the headquarters of Project: WideAwake with the aid of Raven Darkholme, during which it is implied that he is the father of Wolverine's future X-Man teammate Nightcrawler. This is at odds with the knowledge that Azazel is Nightcrawler's biological father. He leads Logan to Team X colleague Frederick Dukes, then leads him to Remy LeBeau, and covers the back of his casino. Victor Creed sneak attacks and kills Wraith.


  1. Marvel Comics Presents #25
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Wolverine #60–66
  3. Weapon X #23
  4. Wolverine #1
  5. Ultimate X-Men #2
  6. Ultimate X-Men #7–12
  7. Ultimate X-Men #11
  8. Ultimate X-Men #38
  9. Ultimate X-Men #94
  10. Ultimate X-Men #98–99
  11. Graser, Marc (19 February 2008). "Reynolds, join 'Wolverine'". Variety. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  12. John Wraith as portrayed by in X-Men Origins: Wolverine