Published on July 12, 2013 by Casey
James Proudstar, previously known as the second Thunderbird but also known as Warpath, is a fictional character, a Marvel Comics superhero associated with the X-Men. Created by writer Chris Claremont and artist Sal Buscema, he first appeared as the second Thunderbird in New Mutants #16 (June 1984).
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An Apache Native American, Proudstar possesses mutant superhuman strength and speed, like his older brother, the short-lived X-Men Thunderbird, though Warpath’s power-levels are much higher.
He originally blamed the X-Men for his brother’s death and joined the villain group the Hellions to get revenge. He later reconsidered his views and became a longtime member of the militant X-Men offshoot X-Force. After a long journey to the Shi’ar Empire with the Uncanny X-Men, Warpath became a member of the new incarnation of X-Force but he left after the events of Necrosha.
Created by writer Chris Claremont and artist Sal Buscema, he first appeared as the second Thunderbird in New Mutants #16 (June 1984). The character initially appeared as an antagonist of the New Mutants and X-Men, but eventually joined the New Mutants in issue #99 of that series, and the team became known as X-Force in the first issue of that series. The character appeared regularly as a member of that team for most of the duration of the title.
James Proudstar was born on the Apache reservation at Camp Verde, Arizona. James’ brother, John Proudstar, was one of the “All New, All Different” X-Men.John was killed on one of the team’s earliest missions. James angrily blamed the X-Men for his brother’s death and made it his life’s mission to murder its founder, Professor Charles Xavier.
James’ hatred of the X-Men made him an ideal recruit for Emma Frost’s Hellions, a team intended to be her answer to Charles Xavier’s New Mutants. The Hellions were students at Frost’s Massachusetts Academy; as a Hellion, James clashed with the New Mutants and Shadowcat. His hatred led him to attack the X-Men on his own, with the unexpected, and unwanted, aid of Roulette, Empath, and Firestar. James donned his brother’s costume, and kidnapped the X-Men member Banshee to draw the team to Cheyenne Mountain where John was killed. However, when the opportunity arrived, James was unable to kill Professor X in cold blood. James was reconciled with the X-Men, and Professor X offered membership into the New Mutants to James, but he declined.
A quiet life interrupted
Months later, James came to realize that the Massachusetts Academy wasn’t the place for him. So, he left to return home to his family’s reservation. James enjoyed his stay at home so much, that he originally turned down Cable’s offer to join the New Mutants. After the meeting, in New York, James returned home, to find his entire tribe murdered. James originally thought that the Hellions committed the act to punish him for leaving the team, due to a foot soldier’s mask he found alongside the bodies of his fallen tribesmen. He then joined the New Mutants, hoping to track down the Hellions and gain revenge.
Before long, the New Mutants cut ties with the X-Men and became the militant adventurers known as X-Force and James changed his codename to Warpath. Alongside X-Force, Warpath first battled the Mutant Liberation Front. Alongside X-Force and Spider-Man, he battled the Juggernaut. With the team, he fought the likes of Toad’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and then Weapon P.R.I.M.E. X-Force rescued Sunspot from Gideon, and fought the X-Men and the second incarnation of X-Factor, being taken prisoner by them. Warpath later traveled to Nova Roma to tell Magma that most of the other Hellions were dead. With Boomer and Siryn, he was taken prisoner by Gideon and the Externals; they were rescued by their X-Force teammates. Warpath was a part of X-Force for the duration of the team. As a member of X-Force, James became more calm and controlled and struck up a close friendship with his teammate Theresa Rourke Cassidy. Despite his strong attraction to her, Theresa only saw James as a friend.
Coming to terms with life
James finally had a face to face meeting with Emma Frost. The two talked about the deaths of his tribesmen, but Emma swore she wasn’t involved. Warpath eventually met a woman, by the name of Risque. Risque was instrumental in helping James with his confidence and the two began a love affair. However, Risque was being blackmailed by a man named Sledge, who forced her to drug Warpath and bring him to his lair. Sledge gave him information about a member of the tribe that was still alive, but in turn James had to retrieve his partner, the Vanisher, who had disappeared in another dimension. Sledge hints at abilities within James that make him adept at surviving in this alternate dimension, which is corroborated by a mysterious being in the dimension under the guise of Coyote (James’s childhood pet cat), but these abilities are never expanded upon. James found the Vanisher and in turn Sledge gave information on one of his tribesman, Michael Whitecloud, whom James had presumed deceased. Whitecloud told him that Stryfe, X-Force’s adversary, was behind the killing of his tribe. James went to Hell to gain revenge, but was returned to the living world by Blackheart. When James found out Risque’s involvement in the whole ordeal, he ended their relationship despite her deepest remorse. She would eventually reunite with X-Force on several occasions as an ally.
After X-Force’s disintegration, Warpath joined the Mumbai branch of the international mutant agency, X-Corporation, in India. His new team was a mix of old and new friends: Feral, Sunfire, and Thornn. He stayed there with the X-Corporation for a while, helping to save Professor X’s life, who was surprised that he was still alive.
A threat from Cable’s past comes back to haunt him, when a group of time-traveling ninjas called the Helix attack him and Domino. The Helix worship a demon called the Skornn, which Cable had defeated before. After defeating the Helix, they go in search of the Five Fingers of Annihilation, a blade that is the only thing that can kill the Skornn. They meet up with Shatterstar, and are then attacked by more Helix ninjas. The threat proves more than he and Domino can handle, so they enlist the help of Warpath, Sunspot, and Meltdown. Warpath tells Cable that he and Sunspot have responsibilities with the X-Corporation, and doesn’t really want to be involved with him. Cable explains that he needs people that he can trust on his team. They all agree to join Cable, and go onto to help Cannonball who is being approached by another time traveler. X-Force is eventually joined by Wolverine, and the Fantastic Four. They fight the Skornn, and eventually Cable kills it once again. X-Force disbands, with Warpath apparently returning to the X-Corporation.
Warpath was one of the few mutants to retain their powers after the events of Decimation, and soon after found himself living in the Mutant camp at the X-Mansion. Shortly afterwards, he joined the ranks of the X-Men for the first time at Professor X’s request. Along with Professor X, Marvel Girl, Nightcrawler, Havok, Darwin, and Polaris, he journeys into space to track down Vulcan. He shows his superb fighting prowess while fighting cyborg drones as the X-Men attempt to commandeer a Shi’ar ship. During the final fight with Vulcan, Warpath fought bravely and in the end was on the spaceship with half of the team when Lilandra sent it back to Earth.
Since she is stuck on Earth and has nowhere else to go, Hepzibah joins Professor X’s team of X-Men. She and Warpath have already created a bond of sorts, with Hepzibah remarking that his presence has helped her through her mourning of Corsair. Together, they confront one of the X-Mansion’s guardian Sentinels when Caliban, a long time X-Men ally, runs onto the grounds.
Warpath enters the Morlock Tunnels along with Hepzibah, Storm, and Caliban. As a group, they are attempting to discover the reason for the Morlocks’ increased activity, which has included the capturing of X-Men ward Leech. Warpath’s name has been written on a Morlock wall, along with the names of the other X-Men team members.
After the Morlock encounter, Hepzibah speaks with Scott, who accepts her having Warpath as her new mate and they begin a relationship.
Later when the Hulk attacks the mansion looking for Professor Xavier, Warpath is one of the X-Men who answers the Stepford Cuckoos’ call for help.
Warpath rejoins X-Force as they search a Cooperstown Hospital to pick up the trail of the fugitive Cable. Wolverine doesn’t trust that Warpath will be willing to kill Cable should the need arise, and he asks Wolfsbane to keep an eye on him. She learns that while he won’t like it, he’ll do what needs to be done. As X-Force finishes dispatching the remaining Reavers, Caliban sacrifices himself to save Warpath by jumping into the path of a line of bullets meant for him. In the final battle, Warpath and the rest of the X-Force team are charged with taking down Predator X. James jumps on top of Predator X, stabbing it in the back. However, he realizes that Predator X has a healing factor. He is later seen standing around Professor Xavier when he is thought dead.
Divided We Stand
Archangel goes to San Francisco, California, to meet up with Hepzibah, Warpath, and Iceman. All four are caught in the effects of a city-wide illusion created by Martinique Jason, who thanks to her powers has transformed the city into a hippie paradise. Now calling himself “Running Sun”, he and the others are sent by Jason to confront Cyclops and Emma Frost. After Emma manages to break through Jason’s illusion, Warpath and the others are returned to normal, after which they begin to reestablish the X-Men organization in San Francisco.
Warpath is one of the founding members of the new X-Force, Cyclops’s covert wetworks team, charged with finding and eliminating Purifiers cells. James joins out of a desire for revenge for the death of his friend Caliban at the hands of the Purifiers. While physically the strongest member, he has shown to be shocked at the amount of blood shed on his and his teammates hands. During X-Force’s encounter with the Purifiers, James comes across Eli Bard attacking X-23; after rescuing her, Eli swears a personal vendetta against him.
Since the team was not allowed to contact anyone from the outside world, he is shown regret being with the team then being with his girlfriend, Hepzibah. James takes a break from duty, in order to make peace with the deaths he has caused and travels to visit the grave of his brother, John. En route, his truck is destroyed and James crawls from the wreckage to confront the attacker; the Demon Bear. After a fight with the Demon Bear, he realizes he can’t hurt the Bear and is badly beaten before being rescued by Ghost Rider. When he comes to, Ghost Rider says he is going to teach him how to kill a demon.
After defeating the creature with the aid of Ghost Rider, it is revealed that this Demon Bear was created when the animal spirits of his people were disturbed. They tell James that Eli Bard has dug up Thunderbird, Caliban, and everyone else buried there. They show him Eli’s entire life up until that point and what he’s planning for his beloved Selene.
When the Sapian League starts abducting mutants and infecting them with modified versions of the Legacy virus, turning them into living bombs, Warpath teams up with Vanisher to investigate a possible hit. When Surge, Hellion and Boom-Boom are kidnapped, Warpath, along with the rest of X-Force attempt to save them but at the last second are teleported off to the future to find Cable and Hope Summers leaving Tabitha at the hands of the Leper Queen, who kills her.
Arriving in the future, X-Force is ambushed by a future version of Deadpool who leads them to Cable. Eventually they come across Stryfe’s Celestial city, learning he is in control of that era and are attacked by Stryfe’s forces. After defeating them, later that night Stryfe attacks X-Force and Cable himself. During the battle Stryfe kidnaps Hope and Warpath taking them back to his fortress where he tortures James in front of Hope. Stryfe frees Hope from her restraints and tries to trick her into believing he is Cable. James breaks free and attacks Stryfe. After being beaten, Stryfe is about to kill James when Bishop intervenes. After taking part in the final battle against Stryfe, James flies Domino and X-23 back where they first appeared in the future, passing out in mid-air from the strain caused by the time-travel devices.
When reappearing in the present, X-23 appears a few seconds before the Leper Queen can kill Tabitha, killing the Leper Queen before she gets the chance to kill Tabitha, but is captured by H.A.M.M.E.R. agents straight afterwards. One of the agents tasked with getting a DNA sample from Tabitha attempts to rape her. James appears and kills the agents before they get a chance to.Later while checking out Angel’s Aerie for Wolfsbane, they come across Hrimhari holding an unconscious Rahne.
On the way back to Utopia, the Blackbird is shot down by a bolt of lightning. Making it to shore they encounter a resurrected Pyro and Berserker. After taking them out, James is confronted by his ex-girlfriend, Risque, where she pleads with him get away from her before she is controlled again by the T-O Virus. He is rescued by Archangel who informs him this is Eli Bard’s doing. They meet up with Cyclops and are confronted by Selene’s Inner Circle. During the battle, Eli takes on Warpath who wants the knife responsible for creating the Demon Bear, unaware that Selene needs it to complete her ritual. James is kidnapped by Selene’s Inner Circle, who take him to Genosha.
On Genosha, James fights with his deceased brother Johnny only to be saved by Vanisher. When James confronts Johnny a second time, James kills his brother. With the help of some old ancient rituals from his tribe along with Selene’s knife, James defeats Selene by stabbing her in the heart and frees his brother’s soul at last. After the battle, James quits X-Force with Wolverine claiming he “has made his peace”.
James sided with Cyclops in Schism. He is seen in the X-Men series under the command of Storm. After working with War Machine to stop a war in Eastern Europe teammate Jubilee was captured by vampires. Warpath and the rest of this X-Squad have been attacking Vampire hordes trying to find their friend.
Warpath is a mutant who possesses superhuman physical ability in virtually all areas:
He possesses superhuman strength (used as his main power in X-Force, as the team ‘strong guy’) with his current power levels showing him capable of toppling a Sentinel by clapping, the resulting air pressure causing it to collapse. He has even directly fought with and managed to hold his own against the Juggernaut.
He possesses superhuman resistance to injury, at least enough to withstand short-range firepower, grenade explosions, and even a direct telekinetic attack from an Alpha-level mutant psionic such as Exodus. He also repairs and regenerates damaged and destroyed tissue much faster than a normal human, as well as revives and recuperates from exhaustion and fatigue much faster than a normal human.
He possesses superhuman agility & flexibility, as he has been officially stated to “move with the grace an Olympic gold-medalist would envy” and “swim with the ease of a porpoise.”
His power of flight was discovered by his one-time mentor and team leader Peter Wisdom, who analyzed his mutation after the High Evolutionary devolved and re-evolved all mutants on Earth, and forced James to incorporate this ability in his fighting style. This power has not been depicted in later comic storylines, although writer Ed Brubaker has said that he chose not to depict Warpath’s flight power because he didn’t understand how Warpath’s speed and strength would allow it. However, his fighting style in the Messiah Complex storyline has shown him to return to using his flight powers. In X-Force he can be seen flying even for long distances. It has since been suggested by writer Christopher Yost that “I thought he was a little embarrassed by the whole flying thing”.
Warpath’s senses, particularly sight, smell and hearing, are enhanced to levels beyond the capabilities of a normal human. He is able to see with perfect clarity at much greater distances than an ordinary human. He retains this same level of visual clarity, even in near-total darkness. His hearing is similarly heightened, enabling him to both clearly hear sounds that ordinary humans can’t and sounds that they can detect but at much greater distances.
After nearly getting killed by Reignfire, Warpath experienced an increase in senses and speed that allowed him to perform feats he had previously not been aware he was capable of, such as run at high speeds up to at least 150 km/h (roughly 93 mph) for long distances and quickly climb building walls by rapidly digging his hands and feet into the bare concrete. He can even evade weapon fire with rapid reflexes and reactions.
Aside from his natural physical attributes, Warpath is well versed in hand-to-hand combat, which is enhanced by his superhuman reflex/reaction rate and eye/ear-hand/foot coordination. He was trained in unarmed combat under the guidance of White Queen and was personally extensively trained in the use of the staff by his long-time teammate star Mojoverse gladiator Shatterstar – who he eventually matched in a record time of only a dozen tries – at the insistence of their mentor Cable. He currently wields a pair of bowie knives composed of vibranium, given to him by Storm, with which he has proved to be highly proficient in combat. James is also a skilled hunter and tracker in his native Apache tradition.
Ghost Rider activated limited Apache shaman abilities within James, in order to help him fight the Demon Bear. He could perceive the creature’s wounds and the resulting spirit energy when it was destroyed.