- “I've done some pretty awful things. The kind of things that could haunt a man when he sleeps. See, most people think our powers are gifts. But if it was up to me, I'd hunt the devil down myself. And give him this gift back. My name is John Wraith. And I'm a mutant.”
- ―John Wraithsrc
John Wraith (also known as Kestrel) was a mutant who could teleport. He was also a friend of Wolverine.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Prologue
- “It be nice. Or your approximation of nice. Would you like a bucket?”
- ―John Wraith to Wolverinesrc
During the Vietnam War in mid-late 1970s, John was a member of a black ops group called Team X under the command of William Stryker. The team also included James "Logan" Howlett, Victor Creed, Christopher Bradley, Agent Zero, and Fred Dukes. Possessing a level head, he seemingly calmed the team over disputes and was a medium for the aggressive natures of those around him.
After a mission in which Logan left and quit, John remained with Stryker and began hunting his own kind. He was not aware the subjects were to be used in experiments to create the ultimate mutant hunter, something that would haunt him for the rest of his life.
- “You sure it was Victor?"
"Damn. I'm sorry, Logan."
"What the hell happened to him after I left?"
"He got worse. Felt like you abandoned him. Hell, we all did. But Victor, he had to prove he was better than you. Hunting and killing everything he was pointed at.”
- ―Wolverine and John Wraithsrc
Six years later, after the team's disbandment, John opened a fitness center in Las Vegas in which fellow team member Fred Dukes (now out of shape due to an eating disorder), who had had gained a tremendous amount of weight, joined in an attempt to get back into shape through boxing matches, he once been.
Soon, his old friend, Logan, arrived at his gym in an attempt to hunt down Victor Creed and Stryker. Logan told John about everything that has happened to him recently, involving Victor and the deaths of the former members of Team X, with John expressing his condolences to Logan as the two mutants have a few drinks. Logan then asks John what happened to Victor after the former left. John tells Logan that Victor got worse, felt like Logan abandoned him, and the rest of Team X feeling the same way. But Victor however, wanted to prove he was better than Logan, hunting and killling everything he was pointed at. John admits putting a few of "them" away once himself, and couldn't take rounding them up. Logan inquires what John means as to who was being rounded up, and John tells Logan to leave it alone. Logan persistently questions John and repeats the question, and John finally admits the members of Team X hunted their own kind, mutants, and there's a special place in hell for the things they did. Logan wonders why, and John replies that's Stryker said they would be making a difference: protecting people from the bad ones.
John asks Logan how he's going to take down Victor, with Logan replying with a follow up question, asking if John remembers the stuff they were looking for in Africa. John confirms that he remembers about Africa, and asks "what about it". Logan reveals his new adamantium claws to John, stunning the latter. Logan sheathes his claws and John wonders what Stryker did to him, and Logan simply says "don't ask". When Logan told John about "the island" Zero mentioned, and asked John if he knows anything about it, John says he doesn't know. John then tells Logan that maybe Dukes knows, since he and Zero were really good friends.
Fred angrily challenged Logan to a boxing match between them because he thought Logan referred to him as "Blob" - even though the spoken word was "Bub". Wraith then proposed the idea of Logan battling, Dukes in a boxing match. Wolverine won by banging his fists (which contained the metal adamantium) on his head, and later wanted answers about the Island.
Wolverine then interrogates Dukes until he is told that Dukes reveals that Victor and Stryker are working together, capturing mutants and experimenting on them, having allegedly learned the information from Agent Zero. Dukes then informs Logan that he does not know the location of Stryker's base, but says that there is only one person who escaped, a mutant and Cajun street hustler named Remy LeBeau, who goes by the name "Gambit". John then asks Dukes what Stryker is up to, wondering what the end game is. Dukes then tells Logan and John that Stryker is taking captured mutants' powers, trying to combine them. Logan then threatens Dukes that, if the former has to return to the fitness center, he's going cut off Fred's head. Logan then departs, with John declaring he's going with him. Logan tells John that there's no redemption where he's going, but John says that he wasn't asking to tag along.
Wraith then accompanied Logan to New Orleans to find Gambit. Upon arriving at a New Orleans casino, John covered the exits of the casino and went onto a balcony in an attempt to keep a look out for trouble, but saw Victor and chased him down an alleyway, where he fought him.
When confronting Victor, Victor revealed he had killed Fred, thus John became infuriated and attacked Victor. Knowing that he killed Bradley, Wade and Dukes, John fights Victor with the intention of killing him, despite having agreed to leave him for Wolverine.
John uses his teleportation ability to his advantage and manages to strike Victor multiple times and initially appeared to gain the upper hand. But Victor, however, grew tired of being punched and predicting John's move, eventually grabs John's spine by positioning his hand in exactly the right place to grab it as John appears, mortally wounding him. As Victor gripped John, who was in mid-teleportation, by the spine; before snapping it, Victor quoted that John was becoming predictable by using a single strategy, while holding onto and soon crushing his spine as John died trying to phase out of the hold.
Victor then collected John's DNA for the Weapon XI project. His legacy would live on inside the new Weapon XI, Deadpool (Wade Wilson), who possessed John's teleportation ability.
Due to Wolverine traveling back in time to January 1973, and preventing Bolivar Trask from being assassinated by Mystique, and changing the significant events after that point, Team X was never formed. Thus, he along with other members of Team X, were never hunted and killed by Victor Creed.
John Wraith is a rather morally dubious man. Though he was a member of Team X who massacred a village to locate the adamantium on Stryker's orders, he became deeply regretful over hunting his own species, claiming there was a "special place in hell" for the things they did. Compared to the rest of Team X, Wraith is the more level-headed and the least confrontational, or as Victor states "spineless". He often attempted to dissuade arguments amongst the barracks but even so, he wasn't one to walk away from a fight if necessary.
Wraith is also rather attached to his teammates. Like everyone he felt abandoned when Logan left the team but nevertheless supported him in his revenge mission against Stryker. He also helped Fred Dukes after he developed an eating disorder by granting him free passage to his fitness gym to lose his tremendous weight and telling Logan to not upset him over his size. Wraith also became aggressive when confronting Victor, planning to kill him before Logan was able to out of revenge for Victor murdering Wade, Dukes, and Bradley.
Powers, Abilities, & Weaknesses
- Phase-Jumping - Psionic ability to teleport at will from any point in space to 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.
- Boxer - Kestrel is shown to be a talented boxer, running his own boxing gym. Against the much larger and stronger Victor Creed, John's strikes were shown great enough to make the former ally stagger over each time.
- Predictability - According to Victor, John appears to use his teleportation abilities in predicable attack patterns.
- Shared Space - If John is to teleport into a spot shared with another solid target, it will essentially impale him, potentially killing him as shown when Victor's claws became lodged in John's stomach.
- Pop musician Will.i.am got the role because he wanted to play a mutant with the same power as Nightcrawler.
- In the comics, Wraith goes by the name Kestrel.
- The X-Men Origins: Wolverine tie-in video game shows a relationship between Wraith and Mystique and suggests that he is Nightcrawler's father.