Art by George Pérez.
|First appearance||as Joseph Wilson:
Tales of the Teen Titans #43 (June 1984)
Tales of the Teen Titans #44 (July 1984)
|Created by||Marv Wolfman
|Alter ego||Joseph William Wilson|
|Team affiliations||Teen Titans
Jericho (real name Joseph William Wilson) is a fictional character, originally a superhero who was a member of the Teen Titans in the acclaimed 1980s period of The New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, published by DC Comics. Since the early 1990s, Jericho has gone through periods of both sanity and insanity.
Jericho was created in the early 1980s, a few years after Marv Wolfman and George Pérez relaunched the Teen Titans series, turning it into a major hit for DC Comics. At the time, Wolfman and Pérez were interested in distancing the team from the Justice League, many of whose members had been mentors to the Titans. This meant introducing new characters such as the mystical Raven and the technological Cyborg, as well as changing some of the existing characters, such as having Dick Grayson trade in his identity as Robin in favor of Nightwing. Jericho was part of this process of establishing the team as its own creature rather than, in Pérez' words, a "Justice Little League". Marv Wolfman had decided on the name, which he got from an unused character from the previous Titans series, and with the idea of Jericho being the son of Deathstroke the Terminator, then the primary villain in the Titans series, but could not think of any other aspects of the character. George Pérez worked out the design, powers, and personality of Jericho and also suggested making the character mute. In something of a departure, he also insisted that Jericho's emotions be conveyed entirely through visuals, without the use of thought balloons. Pérez claims that Jericho is the first character which he created solely by himself.
Fictional character biography
Joseph was the youngest son of Slade Wilson (Deathstroke the Terminator), being a musical prodigy as a child. When he was a child, he was held hostage by Jackal, a terrorist who was after his father. Deathstroke refused to give Jackal the information he wanted because it went against his professional code of ethics. Deathstroke managed to rescue his son, but not before one of Jackal's men cut his throat. As a result, he was rendered mute.
As a result of that incident, and the fact that Slade had lied to her, Joseph's mother Adeline divorced Slade (after attempting to kill him by shooting him, but only succeeding in blinding him in one of his eyes), and took her two sons (Joseph and his older brother Grant) with her. At some point, Joseph learned to communicate through sign language (identified in Action Comics #584 as American Sign Language) to compensate for his lost voice. In his late teens, Joey discovered that he possessed the metahuman power to take possession of any humanoid being he could make eye contact with, as a result of biological experimentation done on his father years before, using it to save his mother from an assassin.
Sometime later (in a storyline called "The Judas Contract"), Adeline and Joseph discovered that Deathstroke had accepted a contract on the Teen Titans. They approached Dick Grayson to help him rescue the Titans, with Joseph adopting the identity of Jericho. The rescue mission was a success, and Jericho subsequently joined the team, but the Titans were initially wary of him because of his relationship to Deathstroke, and the betrayal of Terra.
Jericho was a loyal Titan for many years. Shortly after he joined the Titans, another new member, Kole, joined. Jericho immediately developed a bond with her.
Unbeknownest to anyone, Jericho was possessed by the souls of Azarath, tainted by the essence of the demon Trigon, Raven's father. Unable to possess Raven herself, the souls entered Jericho. They were weak at first, but gained strength with time and eventually merged with him.
Jericho laid dormant within his own mind while the souls of Azarath began searching for new bodies. The souls needed individual vessels to survive and sought to acquire superhuman ones, taking over the Wildebeest Society and using them to abduct current and former Titans to act as vessels. Jericho gained new powers: a powerful lion soul-self and a healing ability that repaired his throat and allowed him to speak again.
In the "Titans Hunt" storyline, Nightwing and Troia, accompanied by some new allies, found and confronted him. During the battle, the real Jericho resurfaced and begged his father to kill him. There was no help for him and, to spare his son any more suffering, Deathstroke killed him. A statue of Jericho was later erected in the Titans Tower memorial in San Francisco.
Several years later, it was revealed that Jericho's spirit had survived by jumping inside his father right before he was killed. He had lain dormant until hearing that his friend Donna Troy had been killed in battle. Taking control of his father's body, he sought out the latest group of Titans; hoping to convince them that children shouldn't be superheroes, as they could easily be killed like he was, and wanting to spare them his fate. He also killed his father's closest friend, Wintergreen, and mounted the man's head on a wall.
During the combat, he jumped from body to body until Raven absorbed him. During a battle with Brother Blood, she repelled him when she unintentionally absorbed her teammates, Deathstroke and Rose into her soul-self. Jericho managed to use the bodies of Wonder Girl and Superboy against the team, but when he tried to enter Cyborg, Cyborg used his cybernetic eye to transfer Jericho's spirit to a computer file, now stored in Titans Tower. Beast Boy says that they check on Jericho every day.
After the "One Year Later" jump following the events of Infinite Crisis, Raven took the disk with Jericho's essence and, using the same ritual the Church of Brother Blood previously employed to raise her from the dead, resurrected Jericho in an new body, missing the throat scars from his childhood injury. However, for reasons never explained, despite the fact he no longer had the physical damage of his old body, Joey remained unable to speak, and continued to use sign language to communicate. Jericho joined the latest incarnation of the team, taking the opportunity to bond with his half-sister Rose, who was the new Ravager. After possessing the body of Superboy's dangerous clone Match, Jericho moved to S.T.A.R. Labs until a way was found to control Match.
Later Jericho, still trapped in Match's body, seemingly escaped from S.T.A.R. Labs in visible distress and asking for his friends' help. The Titans managed to help him escape Match's body, but it soon became apparent how much the experience had twisted Jericho's mind, leaving him bent on the Titans' destruction.
Jericho briefly escaped the Titans to plague the Presidential Election of 2008 of the main DC Universe, going so far as to use Green Lantern's body to fight the Justice League upon being discovered. The will-based powers of Hal prove to be his undoing, as Hal was able to push Jericho out of his body. Jericho was brought to the JLA Satellite for safe-keeping. Mento mindprobed Jericho, discovering that he was suffering from a particular and severe form of dissociative identity disorder, caused by years of reckless body-hopping. Unable to purge his mind of the lingering echoes of the personality he had to submerge when taking possession of an individual, he had his mind overruled by the most evil and strong willed patterns, causing him to take on a criminal, ruthless personality opposed to his former gentle self. The JLA decides to send him back to S.T.A.R. Labs, hoping for a cure.
Jericho managed to escape the JLA, and returned to the Titans, inhabiting Nightwing's body. The JLA arrived to reclaim him, and he started jumping into the bodies of whoever tried to capture him. This backfired when Jericho jumped into Superman's body. Although stronger than he once was, Jericho found himself unable to control Superman's alien body. Jericho briefly managed to gain control of himself over the evil impulses, and seemingly vanished into nothingness.
Jericho later returns, having entered Cyborg's body through his mechanical eye, using an "imprint" left over from the last time. He used Titans Tower's defenses to try to kill the Teen Titans, but their new member Static used his electrical powers to short out the Tower's systems, creating feedback that knocked Jericho out of Cyborg. Jericho escaped once more and, spurred on by the multiple personalities inside him (particularly that of his father), sets into motion a "Deathtrap" scenario. Jericho unsuccessfully attempted to murder both the Teen Titans and the Titans (his former teammates), who eventually apprehend him. While in police custody, he was confronted by the new Vigilante. Determined to end the villain's rampage permanently (but having promised Rose Wilson that he would not kill him), Vigilante gouged out both of his eyes, rendering him unable to use his possession abilities. The trauma of the incident caused Jericho to revert to his true personality, but he was left haunted by the various personalities in his mind.
In a Teen Titans tie-in to the Blackest Night crossover, Jericho is seen in possession of Grant's body, now a member of the undead Black Lantern Corps, saving Rose from the attack of Adeline, Wintergreen, and Wade Defarge. Jericho revealed to Rose that his eyes grew back after Vigilante's attack, and that he used his power to enter Grant's body when he attempted to kill him. Jericho then entered his mother body, tricking the Black Lanterns into destroying each other. In the aftermath, Jericho reconciled with his father, reasoning that Deathstroke would be the only one who could kill him if he were ever to succumb to the murderous personalities inside his mind.
Deathstroke hired Doctor Sivana and Doctor Impossible to create a diabolical invention with healing factor called the "Methuselah Device" to save Jericho who was dying from leprosy. Once Jericho was placed in the machine, they activated the Methuselah, which restores Jericho body. Deathstroke offers its abilities to all the Titans, offering to restore their deceased loved ones as payment for their services. Some Titans accept, but other Titans refuse and the team fights. Deathstroke walks away with his son, but Jericho possessed him disgusted at what his father did to achieve his restoration, intending to destroy first the Methuselah Device, then himself and Deathstroke. While the Titans fight over the Methuselah, its power source, a metahuman named DJ Molecule, is released. DJ Molecule blasts Deathstroke, knocking Jericho out of his body. Jericho is then slashed by Cheshire. When Cinder sacrifices herself to destroy the Methuselah, Jericho is carried out by Arsenal. Arsenal and Jericho then decide to form a new team of Titans, to restore the legacy that Deathstroke besmirched.
The New 52
In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), Jericho had his entire origins changed where he and his mother were believed to have died when North Koreans attacked their home. Slade Wilson (now calling himself Deathstroke) had made many villains world wide and had repeatedly placed his family in the crosshairs. Jericho at some point exposed himself to the Gen-factor which gave his powers. Now a man in his early 20's, Jericho has plans to crumble his father's life that he had built for himself with the help of his mother and brother. However, it was eventually revealed that Jericho had taken control of his own mother and brother and forced them to hate Deathstroke. Joseph was apparently killed along with his brother until a later scene of a worker with glowing green eyes hinting at Joseph possessing a man to save himself and escape.
Powers and abilities
Jericho can possess a person after making eye contact with them; his body turns insubstantial and enters the subject. While he is in possession, Jericho has access to all of that host's powers including physical, mental, and magical, and is also able to tap into their memories. Jericho's victims stay conscious and may even express themselves vocally, but they are not able to control the actions of their bodies as directed by Jericho. If the person was unconscious, Jericho could use their voice to speak, albeit with their accent and could only use the words they knew. Jericho sometimes used the American manual alphabet letter "J" as his Sign name in order to signal to his allies that he has taken possession of a person.
However, this power is most effective on human or meta-human bodies; when Jericho once possessed Superman when the hero's mind was briefly transferred into the body of a crippled, angry scientist who used Superman's body to vent his rage against the world, he was unable to maintain control of the Kryptonian brain for long, although it was still long enough to allow the Titans to reverse the transfer. He is skilled in hand to hand combat and able to hold his own against his father.
Jericho's power depends on eye contact with living beings; if he is blinded, or the being he attempts to possess is not a natural creature, his power fails (in this way, he was tricked by his teammate Cyborg during a training exercise, when the latter closed his natural eye and Jericho failed to take possession by attempting to contact his artificial eye (Jericho has since overcome this limitation and was able to control Cyborg through his electronic eye). Jericho has also shown the ability to regrow his gouged out eyeballs: this feat apparently came with the price of a still impaired vision, but the return of his possession ability in their full capacity.
When possessed by the spirits of Azarath, Jericho had a powerful lion soul self and healing ability and was a criminal mastermind.
In other media
- Jericho appeared in the "Calling All Titans" episode of the animated Teen Titans series. He meets Beast Boy and becomes an honorary Titan and has to fight off both Fang and Private H.I.V.E.. In the next episode, "Titans Together," he is one of four heroes who endured an attack from the Brotherhood of Evil and rallied under Beast Boy to launch a final assault against the Brotherhood. Like his early comic persona, Jericho in the animated series can possess any being he can make eye contact with. He is mute in the show as he is in the comic books. However, while in Cinderblock's body, he was able to speak, though this is purely due to the fact that Cinderblock's body has functional vocal cords, though Cinderblock is not shown to speak by himself. However, his power was useless when Gizmo put a bag over his head, unable to make eye contact with anyone. He was saved when reinforcements arrived with Cyborg, Starfire, and Raven. Though Deathstroke, known as Slade in the show, is one of the show's most important villains, the animated series never mentions his and Jericho's connection. One possible reason why this was not mentioned could be that Robin would not have accepted Jericho into the Teen Titans if he (Robin) knew that Jericho's father was Slade Wilson, whom Robin had a personal grudge against.
- In the TV series Arrow episode titled The Odyssey, Jericho is alluded to when Slade Wilson mentions that Billy Wintergreen is the godfather of his son "Joe". In Season 2 episode "Tremors", Jericho is alluded to again as Oliver tries to calm a now Mirakuru-infected Slade down by trying to make him think about seeing his son again.
When Marv Wolfman and George Pérez were creating the character, they toyed around with the idea of making Joseph gay. Pérez had this to say: "While Marv and I did discuss the possibility of Joseph Wilson being gay, Marv decided that it was too much of a stereotype to have the sensitive, artistic, and wide-eyed character with arguably effeminate features be also homosexual." Joseph has had romantic connections with Raven and Kole."
- Pérez, George (June 1991). "Foreword". The New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. DC Comics. ISBN 978-0-930289-34-8.
- Teen Titans vol. 3, #1-6: "A Kid's Game" (September 2003 – February 2004)
- Teen Titans vol. 3, #4: "A Kid's Game" (December 2003)
- Teen Titans vol. 3, #12: "Family Lost" (August 2004)
- Teen Titans vol. 3, #40: "Titans Around the World, Part 3" (December 2006)
- Teen Titans vol. 3, #41: "Titans Around the World, Part 4" (January 2007)
- Teen Titans vol. 3, #46: "Titans East, Part 4" (June 2007)
- Titans #6
- Titans #7
- DC Universe: Decisions #3
- DC Universe: Decisions #4
- Titans #10
- Teen Titans Annual #1
- Titans #12
- Vigilante vol. 2, #6 (July 2009)
- Teen Titans vol. 3, #77 (November 2009)
- Teen Titans vol. 3, #78 (December 2009)
- Titans Annual 2011 (July 2011)
- Titans vol. 2, #37 (July 2011)
- Titans vol. 2, #38 (August 2011)
- Gay League - Jericho