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Dr. Judas Traveller is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He first appeared in Web of Spider-Man #117 (October 1994). He was created by writer Terry Kavanagh and artist Steven Butler.
Judas Traveller was introduced in the infamous Clone Saga. The character's agenda was to analyze the true nature of evil. Taking interest in Spider-Man and his clone, Traveller with his ally Scrier and his Host (a group of 4 of his students) pit Spider-Man both teaming and against his clone in a test of motivation. He was described by Spider-Man writer Glenn Greenberg as a deus ex machina character with ill-defined powers: "no one – not the writers, not the editors – seemed to know who or what the heck Judas Traveller was. He was seemingly this immensely powerful, quasi-mystical being with amazing abilities, but what was the real deal with him? ... But to be honest, a character like Traveller didn't really fit into Spider-Man's world."As such, Traveller's role would remain a mystery to readers for a while, as writers dropped him in and out of this saga.
It was eventually revealed that all Traveller knew about himself was a lie. In reality he was a criminal psychologist who suffered a mental breakdown awakening his dormant mutant powers to alter perception. With these abilities he often appeared far more powerful than he really was. This was the truth that Chakra told Ben Reilly. During this story, Judas was betrayed by the Scrier, and rescued by Ben Reilly, and his own love interest, Chakra. He was a pawn of Norman Osborn against Spider-Man and eventually betrayed by Osborn.
Fictional character biography
Traveller is a creature who has walked the planet for ages, seeking the true meaning of evil and how it manifests within men. His memories are filled with past events which he witnessed and studied in order to understand the human soul. He eventually set his sights on studying Spider-Man, as he could not yet comprehend if Spider-Man was the cause of evil re-presenting itself in his enemies or a beacon of good that would stand against evil.[volume & issue needed]
Traveller appears during the Clone Saga, infatuated with understanding every minute detail of Peter Parker's life. He is seen with a "Host," four people who are supposed to aid him in his journey of study (Medea, Mister Nacht, Boone, and Chakra), and Scrier (an enigmatic being who is seen as Traveller's confidante and has been with him through the ages). During this time, Parker's life is in disarray due to the passing of Aunt May, the charges of murder levied against him, and the potentially problematic pregnancy of his wife Mary Jane. Traveller struggles to understand what drives Parker to continue on this path of seeking justice when most men would have broken under the stress. He approaches a stressed Mary Jane in an attempt to search her soul for answers, but Ben Reilly relentlessly fights past all of Traveller's obstacles in order to keep him out of her life. Seeing Reilly's resolve, Traveller agrees to leave her alone, but he also mentions that he has just as much interest in Reilly and would seek him out eventually.[volume & issue needed]
The Mark of Kaine
While Parker is imprisoned for crimes committed between Utah and New York, Traveller sends Chakra to inform him that Mary Jane is being stalked by Kaine. He watches to see what Parker will choose to do, and eventually aids him by allowing Parker safe escape from prison and casting an illusion of Parker remaining in his cell. While Traveller admits to Scrier that both Parker and Reilly fascinate him, he assures him that not even Scrier is able to understand why.[volume & issue needed]
After Parker and Reilly switch places in prison and Parker dons the Scarlet Spider costume, Traveller follows him around the city and eventually confronts him, places Mary Jane unconscious, and gives Parker a choice to make his life better. He shows Peter the image of Aunt May in a crystal ball and suggests that he could bring her back to life and give Parker a world where he no longer has to worry about the clones or the charges now against Reilly. Parker refuses and fights back Traveller, claiming that everything is taking place in his mind, Traveller is not God and doesn't have the power to restore lives. Traveller responds by showing Parker a world twenty-four hours in the future, a destroyed city supposedly the result of Parker's actions. He claims that Parker can still stop this world from coming to pass if he can stop his Host from going through with their plans. As part of this test, Traveller agrees to use his powers to protect the building where Mary Jane is so no matter what happens she and the unborn child would be safe.[volume & issue needed]
Parker goes after the Host and manages to stop them from going through with their plan, but another anomaly arises from the point of origin where Traveller used his powers to show Parker the future. His misuse of that power causes a rift in the space-time continuum that attempts to correct itself through Traveller who can no longer control his powers. While Scrier refuses to help, Parker decides to pull Traveller from the rift before he causes the destroyed future he had witnessed only minutes earlier. Upon saving him, Scrier gathers an unconscious Traveller and leaves after telling Parker that Traveller would not be satisfied with the turn of events.[volume & issue needed]
The Trial of Peter Parker
While Parker (back in his original Spider-Man garb) fights Kaine in an attempt to clear his name, Traveller interrupts their fight to place them in a different trial. He teleports them to a sub-basement beneath Ravencroft and forces both of them into a "trial" where Spider-Man is charged for his entire life as a superhero, questioning that if Spider-Man no longer existed would his superpowered enemies have a reason to exist.[volume & issue needed]
He chooses Carnage to be the prosecuting attorney (which allows him to have knowledge of Spider-Man's true identity), Kaine the defense attorney, and a number of Ravencroft inmates to be the jury. Kaine attacks Traveller and attempts to leave his "mark" on his face, but Traveller is unaffected and displays his power by holding Kaine in the palm of his hand. He lets the brief trial unfold the only way that it could, with all supervillains wanting Spider-Man dead. Traveller binds Spider-Man and allows the supervillains, led by Carnage, to carry out Spider-Man's death sentence. Kaine, however, jumps into the fray, determined to protect Spider-Man's life at any cost. Before Kaine could be killed by the mob, Traveller disperses the entire group and returns them to their cells as he had gotten the answer he wanted. The entire ordeal had only been to see how Spider-Man's actions (or lack thereof in this case) could motivate the actions of someone as corrupt as Kaine. As a result, he returns Spider-Man and Kaine to their previous place of battle, saying that his current investigation had been concluded for the time being. As his last act of ending the trial, he removed Spider-Man's secret identity from the minds of Carnage and all those who were previously aware.[volume & issue needed]
- Life of Reilly, Part 1
- Amazing Spider-Man #417(Nov. 1996)