|First appearance||Rom #1 (December 1979)|
|Created by||Bill Mantlo (writer)
Al Milgrom (artist)
|Place of origin||Wraithworld, Dark Nebula|
|Inherent abilities||Super strength, shapeshifting, magic|
The Dire Wraiths are a fictional extraterrestrial species published by Marvel Comics. The Dire Wraiths first appeared in Rom #1 (1979), and were created by Bill Mantlo and Al Milgrom. The Dire Wraiths are the main opponents of Rom the Spaceknight.
The Dire Wraiths are an evolutionary offshoot of the Skrulls from the Andromeda Galaxy. Like the Skrulls, the Wraiths are shape-shifters, able to take the forms of other creatures. The Wraiths were originally depicted as amorphous, cloudy, vaguely humanoid-shaped beings. However, it was eventually revealed that was a transitional form used for shape-shifting and that their true form is entirely different. The Dire Wraiths are Skrullian Deviants engineered by the starfaring Celestials. The Wraiths have both reptilian and mammalian like traits. The females lay eggs and lactate.
Most non-Wraiths believe that the Wraiths' true form is highly sexually dimorphic but that belief is inaccurate. All Wraiths actually have the same form but the males are so ashamed of their true form that they use their shape-shifting abilities to constantly appear in their transitory forms. The basic transitory form is stocky and troll-like in appearance, with red or brown skin, but otherwise roughly human-like in size and shape. Also, there are frequently many variations, both minor and major, between the transitory forms used by different groups of Wraiths (though this is likely to be just different artists' rendition of the 'transitional' form). The true form has an obese, reddish body with large, pupil-less eyes, small beaks, 'hands' that resemble small pincers and tentacles; clawed feet, and thick tails. They also have long, drill like tongues similar to that of the Cone Shell mollusk, that they use to suck out the brains of their victims, which allows them to gain their memories. (It also causes the victim's body to dissolve into fluid; this may have been a way for the wraiths to eliminate the persons whom they replaced.) All Wraiths can copy the appearance of other beings without consuming their brains or killing them but female witches prefer to kill their victims and absorb their memories during the kill. Males allegedly can use superscience to access their victims' memories as effectively as the females did with their drill tongues.
Wraiths turned into dust when killed (or banished to Limbo; see below.) Among the wraiths, the majority of the males preferred to practice science, and the majority of the females preferred to practice evil magic. However, when a Wraith practiced the skills favored by the other gender they were generally quite accomplished at it. Thus, there was a female wraith scientist in charge of their efforts for a time, and a male wraith "high priest" who was able to summon a deathwing to fight Rom on Earth.
At some point in their history, female Dire Wraiths began to study evil magic. This caused a rift with their parent race, the Skrulls, and they were driven out of the Andromeda Galaxy by the Skrulls (hatred still persists between the two races to this day). Using starships powered by a combination of magic and technology, the Wraiths entered a region of space called the "Dark Nebula" where they found a planet that orbited a black sun. Finding that this planet allowed them to tap that sun's energies to use in their magical spells, the Wraiths settled there and named it "Wraithworld". They soon found creatures that they could domesticate to their service: the "deathwings", birdlike creatures of black energy that spawned from the black sun itself, and wolf-like animals that they eventually mutated into blind, telepathic 'hellhounds' that could track their victims via telepathy as well as transform into humanoid, ghost-like forms to attack them.
Two hundred years ago, an emissary fleet from the planet Galador entered the Dark Nebula, only to be attacked by the Dire Wraiths. The Galadorians were extremely accomplished in science and culture and were attempting to spread benevolent enlightenment throughout their galaxy. In particular, Galadorian science had allowed them to access energy sources such as the Living Light, an energy force similar to, but the opposite polarity of, the darkforce. After this military success against the expedition, the Dire Wraiths launched an offensive on the Golden Galaxy which contained Galador. Their motivation seemed to be elimination of a culture they felt to be their antithesis. A huge fleet of Dire Wraith starships attacked the inhabited planets in that galaxy, and were heading towards the Galadorian home world, which was inhabited by human-like beings. However, upon arriving at Galador they found out that hundreds of young Galadorians had been transformed into cyborg warriors called Spaceknights. Although fewer in number, the Spaceknights proved powerful enough to repel the attack. The Dire Wraiths returned to Wraithworld, only to have Rom, the greatest of the Spaceknights, follow them there, intent on wiping their evil from the universe, mainly by means of his weapon, the Neutralizer, which could banish Wraiths into Limbo. (Note: Those wraiths that Rom banished eventually became minions for that dimension's ruler, Immortus.) Realizing that other Spaceknights would soon follow, the Wraiths decided to abandon Wraithworld, and scattered across the universe.
Wraiths on Earth
Several decades prior to Rom's arrival on Earth, a large group of Wraiths landed near a small town called Clairton, in West Virginia, USA. The Wraiths infiltrated the town in human form, and later, began to infiltrate governments and other important organizations across the world. Because Dire Wraith magic was fueled by the black sun of Wraithworld in the Dark Nebula, their ability to perform magic on Earth was severely crippled. Consequently, the male-dominated technology faction of the Wraiths was in control. Possibly because they were aware that Skrulls had contacted Earth, they as a rule used their transitional form instead of their true appearance when they were not in human form.
Later, Rom landed near Clairton, having detected a Wraith infestation, and with the help of some of the locals, eventually succeeded in banishing all the Wraiths there. Then he proceeded to travel around the world, looking for the rest, eventually leaving the protection of Clairton to the human superhero, the Torpedo.
Eventually, the female-dominated faction of magically-oriented Wraiths got tired of hiding, or possibly found a way to revitalize their magical abilities (Concurrent events in the Marvel Universe were heavily magical at the time). Blaming the technology faction for failing to defeat Rom, a coup ensued and they then proceeded to attack the Earth openly. Their first act was to kill the entire population of Clairton while Rom was away. Later, they then openly attacked SHIELD at their headquarters, the Helicarrier. This proved a major blunder in that the personnel were able to repel the attack and all doubt by the authorities as to the existence and threat of the alien species was removed.
Around this time, several Wraiths attack Storm of the X-Men and Forge. Though without her mutant powers, Storm manages to hold her own as the Dire Wraiths invade Forge's building. They are eventually defeated. Meanwhile, the various Earth governments throw their support to defeating the Dire Wraiths with Rom employed as both an expert on the species and commander of field operations hunting down the menace. Since SHIELD's psychic personnel are essential in this effort, the Dire Wraiths cast deadly magic that target those personnel in particular to make their participation in the field effectively suicide. However, the psychics were determined to continue their part and Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange intervened on his own accord to cast a spell on them to improve their resistance to the attacks.
Soon afterwards, the Wraiths launched a plan to help them conquer Earth once and for all; they cast a spell on Earth's sun, allowing them to use its energies to draw Wraithworld into Earth's solar system. This greatly increased their magical powers. Emboldened, the Wraiths made a mass attack on New York City, where they clashed with dozens of the city's superheroes. However, thanks to Rom, who used a special satellite to boost the power of his Neutralizer, Wraithworld in its entirety was banished into Limbo, causing all Wraiths in this galaxy to lose their powers, including, apparently, their shape-shifting abilities. Subsequently, Rom banishes all the defeated Wraiths into Limbo.
Many Avengers, including Hercules, Black Knight and the Wasp, make a trip to Limbo. In this realm, time does not actually pass as it does on Earth; one Avenger perceives hours having passed while on reconnaissance, the others believe only moments have gone by. Immortus, under the guise of Kang, forces the Wraiths to attack the group. Despondent under their current situations, many of the Wraiths trick the Avengers into killing them.
Return of the Wraiths
Although reduced in numbers, there are still many Dire Wraiths in the universe. They were recently mentioned in Dark Reign Files #1 as still being a potential threat even without their magical powers due to their highly advanced weaponry. Agent Brand, head of the intergalactic agency S.W.O.R.D. indicates Dire Wraiths are causing trouble yet again.
A salvaged Dire Wraith ship is used as Moscow headquarters for the Russian superheroes of the Winter Guard. A group of former members of said team serves Immortus in Limbo. In return for returning deceased member Darkstar to life, the team protects his castle against the Dire Wraiths. Several members are lost in battle and long-standing team member Fantasma is revealed to have been a Dire Wraith queen all along. She flees back to Earth, where she opens a hidden passage inside the Winter Guard's headquarters, containing dozens of Dire Wraith eggs. She subsequently fights her former teammates, but is eventually banished back to Limbo.
In the 2011 Annihilators miniseries, a team of Skrulls try to bring back Wraithworld and its population, intending to empower them and use them as a weapon to reform the Skrull Empire. The Wraith's Queen Volx and the Galadorians both are manipulated into setting this up, and the Annihilators find that Wraithworld has to be brought back to reality to balance out the unleashed Dark Sun. The Silver Surfer discovers that Volx has actually been driven insane by an empathic link to Wraithworld in Limbo - and when the Annihilators arrive there, the team is horrified to find out that after generations in Limbo, the surviving Dire Wraiths are a disease-ridden, half-starved people in constant anguish: "even our souls are worn thin", and anyone strong is abducted into servitude by Immortus. The Wraiths blame Volx for their condition and, at the sight of the hero Quasar, beg him to kill them and end their suffering. The Annihilators not only brought back Wraithworld but had to merge the Dark Sun with Galador's sun, tying both races together; the Wraiths and Galadorians began to make peace with each other.
The Dire Wraiths later appear as a member of the Universal Inhumans alongside the Badoon, Centaurians, and the Kymellians. They even did a similar operation that would enable the Dire Wraiths to survive the Terrigen Mist. The Dire Wraiths' procedure had them going through Exogenesis upon inhaling the Exogen Spice (a mutagenic substance). They were present on the moon when Black Bolt returned.
Powers and Abilities
The Dire Wraiths have super-strength and have the ability to shape-shift. Some Wraiths (mostly female) also practice sorcery.
Known Dire Wraiths
|This section requires expansion. (August 2011)|
- Avoe - Current Queen of the Dire Wraiths and member of the Universal Inhumans.
- Fantasma - A Dire Wraiths Queen and a Former member of the Winter Guard.
- Hooud - A size-shifting Dire Wraith who is a member of the Universal Inhumans' Light Brigade. He operates under the alias of Creeping Death.
- Volx - Queen of the Dire Wraiths.
- Voorr - A Dire Wraith who is a member of the Universal Inhumans' Light Brigade. He operates under the alias of Sun. Voorr can fly and project force fields.
- Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Update #2 (August, 2010)
- Rom vol. 1, #1 - 75 + Annual #1 - 4
- Rom vol. 1, Annual #2 (1983).
- Annihilators #3 (July, 2011)
- Dark Reign Files #1
- "Spider-Woman: Agent Of S.W.O.R.D." #5 (2009)
- Darkstar & the Winter Guard #1
- Darkstar & the Winter Guard #2
- Darkstar & the Winter Guard #3
- Annihilators #3
- Annihilators #4
- Fantastic Four #577
- FF #7
- Dire Wraith entry on MarvelDirectory.com
- Dire Wraith information from Rom Spaceknight Revisited
- Dire Wraith at the Comic Book DB