Meet Judas Traveller, Spider-Man Villain Turned Mutant Traitor
Who is Judas Traveller? Follow this mutant villain's journey from Spider-Man foe to Orchis mastermind.
From the X-Men to their most bitter rivals, Krakoa welcomes all mutants. However, some mutants have not answered the call of the island nation. Instead, one of those mutants—the former Spider-Man villain known as Judas Traveller—has quietly turned himself into one of Krakoa’s most dangerous enemies. Where Traveller once presented himself as an immortal figure to Spider-Man, he now sits as one of the leaders of the mutant-hating group Orchis and operates as a mastermind behind its ongoing efforts to doom Krakoa.
Now, we’re taking a closer look at Judas Traveller and his transformation from Spider-Man villain to one of the X-Men’s most dangerous foes. We’ll also break down how Traveller’s troubled past led him to betray mutantkind on an even bigger scale in X-MEN: BEFORE THE FALL – MUTANT FIRST STRIKE (2023) #1 by Steve Orlando, Valentina Pinti, Frank William, and VC's Travis Lanham.
WHO IS JUDAS TRAVELLER?
Before Judas Traveller discovered his psychic mutant powers, he was a world-renowned psychologist obsessed with studying the nature of good and evil. His work influenced Doctor Ashley Kafka, the head of the Ravencroft Institute, and her approach to treating several Spider-Man villains under her care.
Eventually, Traveller suffered a nervous breakdown, which drove him into seclusion and triggered his mutant abilities for the first time. Traveller has telepathic powers, which he has primarily used to manipulate the perceptions of those around him to create convincing illusions, but he can also read minds, communicate telepathically, and erase memories.
Between his mental instability and his emerging mutant powers, Traveller fell under the delusion he was an all-powerful, centuries-old immortal being. Thanks to his mental powers, Traveller was able to make these delusions seem real to many of the people within Spider-Man’s world.
Norman Osborn learned about Traveller’s powers and mental instability and manipulated him into taking part in his grand plan against Spider-Man, as revealed in SPIDER-MAN: THE OSBORN JOURNAL (1996) #1 by Glenn Greenberg, Kyle Hotz, Jason Moore, and Al Milgrom. Under Osborn’s orders, Charles Bates—a member of an Osborn-controlled ancient group called the Cabal of Scrier—approached Traveller and presented himself as a similarly powerful mystical being.
Posing as an old associate, the Scrier fed into Traveller’s delusions of grandeur, even using technology to supplement his illusions of power. The Scrier also recruited the Host, a group that ostensibly studied under Traveller and included members like the mercenary Medea, the weapons master Boone, the mystic Chakra, and the mysterious Mister Nacht.
JUDAS TRAVELLER MEETS SPIDER-MAN
As part of Osborn’s plan against Spider-Man, Judas Traveller played a big role in the web-slinger’s world throughout “The Clone Saga,” when Peter Parker faced existential self-doubt after encountering his clone, Ben Reilly. Traveller was fully immersed in his delusions when he debuted in WEB OF SPIDER-MAN (1985) #117 by Terry Kavanagh, Steven Butler, and Randy Emberlin. When Doctor Kafka needed some help running Ravencroft, she turned to Traveller, unaware of his powers and his mental state. With the Host at his side, Traveller quickly took over Ravencroft and began studying its patients, even momentarily separating Cletus Kasady from the Carnage symbiote.
Sensing how much Ravencroft’s residents hated Spider-Man, Traveller teleported the Institute’s staff away, sealed the building off with a force field, and ordered Parker to come to him. After threatening to kill or release all of Ravencroft’s residents, Traveller telepathically tortured Spider-Man and shackled him.
While reading Parker’s mind, Traveller learned about his clone, and he summoned Reilly to Ravencroft too. Wearing a spare Spider-Man suit, Reilly defeated the Host and confronted Traveller, just as Parker freed himself from his shackles. Although Traveller knocked Spider-Man and his clone out, he fled and released several villains from Ravencroft along the way. When Parker and Reilly teamed up to take them down, Traveller vowed to continue watching both of them.
JUDAS AND THE CLONE SAGA
As Ben Reilly became the web-slinger Scarlet Spider, Judas Traveller enjoyed a regular presence in “The Clone Saga,” where he continually tested Peter Parker’s ethics. But when Parker was imprisoned for the crimes of his murderous evil clone Kaine, Traveller helped him escape by replacing him with an illusion until Reilly could take his place on Ryker’s Island. However, Spider-Man rejected Traveller’s offer to resurrect the believed-dead Aunt May in exchange for killing someone else in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #402 by J.M. DeMatteis, Mark Bagley, Larry Mahlstedt, Joe Rubinstein, and Al Milgrom.
Under Traveller’s orders, the Host attacked a geothermal power plant that could have destroyed New York, as Traveller showed Spider-Man in a vision in SPIDER-MAN (1990) #59 by Howard Mackie, Tom Lyle, and Sam de la Rosa. After Peter stopped the Host, he also saved the Traveller from an apparent time vortex created by his interference with the timeline.
Following that encounter, Traveller returned to Ravencroft and put Spider-Man on trial in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #403 by DeMatteis, Bagley, Mahlstedt, and de la Rosa. With the villainous residents of Ravencroft serving as his jury, Spider-Man was unmasked, found guilty, and sentenced to death. However, Kaine protected Parker from the mob of villains, which compelled Traveller to call off the group and erase their memories of Spider-Man’s secret identity.
While Ben Reilly operated as Spider-Man, Osborn ordered the Host to betray Traveller, but Chakra left the team out of love and loyalty to their leader. The rest of the Host captured Judas and entombed him in a coffin at the bottom of a pool in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #417 by Tom DeFalco, Ron Garney, and Al Williamson.
After Traveller reached out to Parker in a dream, the temporarily retired web-slinger teamed up with Reilly and Chakra to rescue Traveller. Free once more, Traveller defeated the Host and several members of the Cabal of Scriers before returning to the shadows of the Marvel Universe with Chakra.
JUDAS TRAVELLER AND ORCHIS
After staying quiet for years, Judas Traveller reemerged as a leader within the mutant-hating organization Orchis. While Professor X and Magneto gathered the mutants of the world on the island nation Krakoa, Orchis united the world's mutant-hating agents and groups under one organization dedicated to stopping mutantkind from becoming Earth’s dominant species.
As part of Orchis’ comprehensive plan to attack mutants on every possible front, Traveller operates the organization’s Culture/Narrative division, which seeks to turn public opinion against Krakoa, the X-Men, and mutantkind in general. By drawing on his history and expertise in manipulating the perceptions of others, Traveller has proven himself to be a master of anti-mutant propaganda.
Traveller revealed why he joined Orchis’ crusade against mutants even though he is one in X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC (2021) #45 by Steve Orlando and Emilio Laiso. Having apparently recovered from his delusional state, Traveller said he could not accept mutants positioning themselves as “humanity’s new gods.” Drawing on his own experience as a self-proclaimed god during his days fighting Spider-Man, Judas said he believed that mutants had to be stopped from becoming the world’s new gods for their own good and the good of the rest of the world.
JUDAS TRAVELLER VS. THE X-MEN
While mutants have always been hated and feared by part of the Marvel Universe’s population, Traveller has successfully fomented anti-mutant and anti-Krakoan sentiment through large-scale media manipulation. In hopes of staging Orchis-backed false flag mutant attacks, Traveller helped the mutant-hating Heritage Initiative purchase legal rights to the X-genes of Camp Gozhoo's mutant residents in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN: THUNDERBIRD (2021) #1 by Nyla Rose, Steve Orlando, David Cutler, José Marzan Jr., and Roberto Poggi. Although the newly resurrected John Proudstar stopped the Heritage Initiative, he tore through a police station in the process, a detail that Traveller made sure to spread across Orchis-friendly outlets like Fact Channel News and Vulpe Communications.
In addition to casting the regular heroics of the X-Men in a nefarious light, Traveller and his agents zeroed in on stories like Nature Girl and her self-proclaimed X-Men Green team taking lethal actions against polluters. Traveller even tried to highlight the role Krakoa played in awakening the Celestial Progenitor that almost destroyed the world during AXE: JUDGMENT DAY in MARAUDERS (2022) #6 by Steve Orlando and Andrea Broccardo.
Now, Traveller has taken his plans to the next level in X-MEN: BEFORE THE FALL – MUTANT FIRST STRIKE #1. Using stolen, modified X-genes, Traveller launched a devastating, explosive attack on the town of Milford, New Hampshire and used sympathetic media outlets to frame it as an act of mutant aggression.
When Krakoa assembled a team of X-Men to serve as first responders, Traveller sent a team of mutant-hating Watchdogs to bait the X-Men into a fight. Even though the X-Men ultimately won over the hearts of Milford’s residents, Traveller was able to use the situation as another piece of anti-mutant propaganda and another step on the road to the FALL OF X.
Catch Judas Traveller's latest machinations for Orchis in X-MEN: BEFORE THE FALL - MUTANT FIRST STRIKE (2023) #1, now on sale!
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