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THUNDERBIRD

Real Name: John Proudstar

Identity/Class: Human mutant;
   Native American (Apache)

Occupation: Adventurer;
   formerly corporal in the US Marine Corps

Group Membership: Selene's Undead Army (Banshee/Sean Cassidy, Beef/Buford Wilson, Berzerker, Bevatron/Fabian Marechal-Julbin, Black Bishop/Harry Leland, Sienna Blaze, Bolt/Chris Bradley, Caliban, Catseye/"Sharon Smith", Fabian Cortez, Cypher/Doug Ramsey, Darkstar/Laynia Petrovna, Deadbolt, Marco Delgado, Destiny/Irene Adler, Feral/Maria Callasantos, Firefist/Rusty Collins, Hemingway, Hurricane, Jetstream, Katu Kath, Lifeforce, Maggott/Japheth, Leon Matheson, Seamus Mellencamp, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Proteus/Kevin MacTaggert, Pyro/St. John Allerdyce, Rem-Ram, Risque/Gloria Muñoz, Roulette/Jennifer Stavros, Scaleface, Shinobi Shaw, Skin/Angelo Espinosa, Spoor/Andrew Graves, Spyne, Static/Gianna Esperanza, Stonewall, Super Sabre/Martin Fletcher, Synch/Everett Thomas, Tarot/Marie-Ange Colbert, Tower/Edward Pasternak, Unus the Untouchable, the tribe of Camp Verde, millions of others);
formerly X-Men (Angel/Warren Worthington III, Banshee/Sean Cassidy, Beast/Hank McCoy, Colossus/Peter Rasputin, Cyclops/Scott Summers, Havok/Alex Summers, Iceman/Bobby Drake, Marvel Girl/Jean Grey, Nightcrawler/Kurt Wagner, Polaris/Lorna Dane, Storm/Ororo Munroe, Sunfire/Shiro Yashida, Wolverine/James "Logan" Howlett)

Affiliations: Captain America (see comments), Crusader (Marvel Boy duplicate), Esme Cuckoo, Dark Angel, Destiny (Irene Adler), Foolkiller (Ross G. Everbest), Guardian (James Hudson), Hellcat (Patsy Walker), Susie Littlewing, Miss America (Madeline Frank), Moira MacTaggert, Mockingbird (H'rpra), Multiple Man clones, Ringmaster (Maynard Tiboldt), Torpedo (Brock Jones), Michael Whitecloud

Enemies: Ani-Men (Ape-Man/Gordon Keefer, Bird-Man/Henry Hawk, Cat-Man/Townshend Hogan, Dragonfly/Veronica Dultry, Frog-Man/Francois LeBlanc), Carrion Crow, Chaos King (Amatsu-Mikaboshi), "Coyote" (Dr. Edwin Martynec), Mys-Tech, Count Nefaria (Luchino Nefaria), Sophie Cuckoo, Krakoa, Mephisto

Known Relatives: Maria Proudstar (mother, deceased), Neal Proudstar (father, deceased), James Proudstar (brother), Bethany Proudstar (half-sister), Jack Proudstar (uncle, deceased), unidentified grandfather

Aliases: "Fella", "Mister" (nicknames used by Cyclops), "Buster" (nickname used by Iceman), "T-Bird" (nickname used by Wolverine), "Johnny" (nickname used by Warpath), "my young friend" (nickname used by Charles Xavier)

Base of Operations:  Unrevealed;
                                     formerly Moira MacTaggert's research facility, Muir Island, Scotland
                                     formerly Genosha;
                                     formerly Arena of Lost Souls in Mephisto's Hell;
                                     formerly Valhalla Mountain, Colorado
                                     formerly Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, Salem Center, New York
                                     formerly United States Marine Corps, mobile throughout the world
                                     formerly Apache reservation Camp Verde, Arizona

First Appearance: Giant Size X-Men I#1 (May, 1975)

Powers/Abilities: Thunderbird's mutant abilities granted him superhuman strength (lifting 2 tons), speed, stamina and durability. His lungs were oversized and his respiratory system was so developed it allowed him maximum endurance and wind with a minimum of oxygen intake. He could run at speeds up to 35 mph for extended periods, sufficient to outrun a bison. The bulk of his enhanced features were caused by his mutant physiology. His muscle tissue was three times as dense as that of normal humans and distributed in such a way as to give Thunderbird massive shoulders, arms and thighs. His skin was also several times denser than that of a baseline human, including an additional layer of leathery epidermis. Thunderbird appeared to heal at an enhanced rate, recovering from a deep laser burn to his leg within hours. A gifted tracker, he could approach most targets without being spotted. Proudstar received military training including hand to hand combat and shooting (handheld) firearms during his time with the US Marine Corps. Fiery tempered, eager to prove himself and distrustful of authority figures, Thunderbird hid all his insecurities behind a facade of thinly veiled belligerence. After his brief resurrection during the reign of the Chaos King, Proudstar was imbued with the essence of the Apache deity he was named after, granting him unspecified godlike powers that allowed him to tap into and heal Earth's laylines.

Height: 6'1 ½"
Weight: 225 lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black

History:

(X-Force I#-1 (fb) ) - Chiricahua Apache John Proudstar was born to Neal and Maria on Arizona's Camp Verde reservation. In her younger years, Maria was exposed to the fallout of nearby government nuclear tests. This resulted in John developing mutant powers when he was in his early teens, right around the same time his younger brother James was born. Proudstar kept his gifts of enhanced strength, speed, agility and stamina to himself, unaware he even was a mutant.

(Classic X-Men#3 (fb) - BTS) - All through his youth, John's grandfather tried to tell him of his Native American heritage, specifically his family's connection to the ancient Apache god Thunderbird, who was considered the Proudstar family totem. John however dismissed the old man's tales.

(Giant Size X-Men I#4 (fb) - BTS) - John's uncle Jack, a soldier, taught him how to fight on the reservation and did not pull any punches while facing his young nephew.

(X-Force I#-1 (fb) - BTS) - Eager to leave the reservation, see the world and prove himself to be "a true Apache", John Proudstar left Camp Verde and joined the US Marine Corps.

(Classic X-Men#3 (fb) - BTS) - Even though he had lied about his age, Proudstar served with distinction, receiving several medals and rising through the ranks to become a corporal. During that time, he was sent into combat numerous times during a  military conflict in Asia. He lost several of his friends and fellow soldiers during that period, which also left him leery of jungles and their deceptively peaceful beauty. There, Proudstar was forced to keep his guard up at all times, living on the edge and even to kill in order to survive (see comments)

(X-Force I#-1 (fb) ) - Flying over the Caribbean en route to Guantanamo, Proudstar's helicopter was caught in a thunderstorm. Lightning hit one of the engines, causing the craft to crash. John got himself and the injured pilot on a lifeboat, but the rough and choppy waters made their survival unlikely. All of a sudden, the sky opened with a roar of thunder and a great bird of fire appeared over him, signaling the end of the storm and that everything would be okay. This reminded Proudstar of his grandfather's stories and how he would probably say John had finally found his totem.

(Giant Size X-Men I#4 (fb) - BTS) - John was assigned to the same platoon as his uncle Jack. The two men served together until Jack was killed by an ambush. The death of his uncle left John feeling guilty.

(Classic X-Men I#3 (fb) - BTS) - After an unspecified incident, Proudstar received an honorable discharge from the US Army and was sent home a broken, angry man.

(X-Force I#-1) - Returning home to Camp Verde, John received a hero's welcome from his family. Especially his brother James was thrilled to see him, though he was also concerned about a giant coyote like creature chasing him (which was actually Doctor Edwin Martynec). John was shocked to learn his mother Maria had been diagnosed with leukemia by Doctor Martynec at the local clinic. To distract himself, he took his brother James to the Ringmaster's Circus Of Delight, a roadside carnival.

(X-Force I#-1 - BTS) - While John kept himself busy chatting up his old friend Susie Littlewing, James wandered off on his own, eventually running into the carnival's fortune teller Madam Destiny (who was really the mutant seer Irene Adler). While she was telling his fortune, reminding the boy that though his brother is thick-skinned, he was actually a giving soul, she also saw John's death. Shocked, but not wanting to upset the child, she told him some inoccuous nonsense, but also insisted that James would take good care of his brother.

(X-Force I#-1) - When he tried to find James at the carnival, John was approached by his old friend Michael Whitecloud, now working as a reporter trying to uncover a scandal involving the nearby Arroyo Laboratories, linking them to all the diagnosed cases of cancer at Camp Verde. Whitecloud wanted John's help to break into the facility to find proof. John agreed to help. Later that day, when the carnival's tiger Kimba broke free, John single-handedly defeated the animal, leading Maynard Tiboldt to offer him a job at his circus.

(X-Force I#-1 - BTS) - Later that night, John and Michael Whitecloud left to break into Arroyo Laboratories, unaware James had decided to hide in the back of his pickup.

(X-Force I#-1) - John quickly scaled the walls of the facility, disabling the alarm and letting Whitecloud in. They also discovered James, much to his older brother's chagrin. Before long, they stumbled across a collection of irradiated animal corpses. Much to their surprise, they were confronted by Doctor Martynec, who revealed that Arroyo Labs had been studying the effects of concentrated radiation on mutant and animal tissue. Holding James hostage with a gun, he planned to kill them all to keep all this a secret. When John easily knocked Martynec aside, the doctor changed into the man/coyote hybrid that James saw earlier in the desert. James shot Martynec with his own gun before John ordered Whitecloud to take his brother and go while he continued to fight. During their confrontation Martynec revealed he suspected John and his brother were mutants and that he faked Maria Proudstar's lab results so he could study the Proudstars further. In the end, Martynec caused an explosion to make sure his work wasn't discovered. Proudstar barely got out in time and returned home to Camp Verde with James, reminding his brother that the only people you can trust are your family.

(Giant Size X-Men I#1 (fb) - BTS) - At some unrevealed point, Professor Charles Xavier became aware of John Proudstar.

(Classic X-Men#1 - BTS) - Without ever having met him in person, Xavier added Proudstar to his roster of candidates for a back up X-Men team.

(Giant Size X-Men I#1) - When the original X-Men were kidnapped by the living island Krakoa (and most of Moira MacTaggert's mutant trainees died trying to save them as revealed in X-Men: Deadly Genesis#6) Charles Xavier travelled across the world to gather a new team. After recruiting Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Banshee, Storm, Sunfire and Colossus, Xavier travelled to Camp Verde where he arrived on time to see Proudstar outrun a bison before wrestling the ferocious animal to the ground. Initially amazed by the fact "a cripple" was able to make his way down there, he quickly dismissed Xavier's request for help, figuring he didn't owe the white man anything, telling the professor "go stuff a cactus, Custer". Xavier then decided to guilt him into it, saying that perhaps the stories about Apache being frightened, selfish children were true. Annoyed but eager to prove him wrong, Proudstar accepted Xavier's offer and travelled to Westchester with him.

(X-Men Origins: Wolverine) - Proudstar and the other X-Men met Wolverine for the first time when the professor called them in to meet him.

(Giant Size X-Men I#1 -  BTS) - After he had gathered all his new students, Xavier supplied them with uniforms and telepathically taught the foreign recruits English.

(Giant Size X-Men I#3/2) - Eager to find out who he was dealing with, Wolverine gathered everyone (except Banshee who was away with Xavier) into the Danger Room. Hoping to get a rise out of them, Wolverine told them that not only were they by no means a team, they were also one too many and that Xavier had told him to make sure one of them did not leave the Danger Room alive. This sparked a massive brawl that spiraled out of control when Storm, suffering from claustrophobia, summoned a thunderstorm in the enclosed space. Angered by the idea "the white man"  (i.e. Xavier) had lied to him again, Thunderbird lashed out at Wolverine. Proudstar continued beating on his teammate, until Banshee (sent by Xavier who had picked up the ruckus across town) ended the conflict. Wolverine then explained himself, telling the angered X-Men this was necessary because they had to get familiar with each other's powers, weak spots and temperaments. As he walked away, Wolverine predicted Thunderbird would outlast all of them, after all he hadn't been hit that solid since he fought the Hulk.

(Giant Size X-Men I#1) - After all the X-Men had donned their new uniforms, Xavier assembled them to meet Cyclops, the only original X-Man who had managed to escape Krakoa.

(X-Men Gold#1/4) - While Cyclops and Xavier were going over the details of the mission to Krakoa, Wolverine analyzed his new teammates' strengths and weaknesses, quickly figuring out the best ways to kill them should this prove necessary. When it came to Thunderbird, who he labelled as "basically me without all the cool powers", the feral mutant concluded that Proudstar lacked the combat experience he had, which would lead to his inevitable defeat.

(Giant Size X-Men I#1) - Thunderbird joined the others on their mission to Krakoa. Cyclops split the group into teams of two, with him and Thunderbird exploring the western part of the island. Once they landed, tempers quickly flared between Thunderbird and Cyclops, whose demeanor he felt was overbearing and authorative. Cracking wise, Proudstar said he just hoped he wasn't being led into another massacre at Little Big Horn. Before Cyclops could respond, they were stunned to find their Stratojet had mysteriously vanished, while a strange temple had suddenly appeared out of nowhere in the distance. Making their way towards the construct, they found themselves under attack by their surrounding, as creeper vines popped out of the underbrush ready to strangle them. Thunderbird was able to uproot the plants and within 15 minutes they reached the temple. When the others arrived, they went inside to find the original X-Men trapped. After they freed their teammates, Krakoa showed himself, revealing he had actually allowed Cyclops to escape so he would return with more mutants for him to feed off of. Thunderbird and the others did their best to fight the island that walks like a man, but in the end it was Storm, working in concert with Polaris and following a plan by Xavier, who managed to send Krakoa into space by briefly cancelling out gravity's pull around the island. Surviving the events thanks to Iceman's protective shell, Thunderbird and the others located the team's Stratojet and headed home, while Angel wondered just what they were going to do with thirteen X-Men.

(Classic X-Men#1) - Returning home to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, Proudstar spent most of the day exploring the mansion. Looking at the many mementos and pictures hanging in the hallways, he realized the original team had a lot of history to be proud of. He figured this meant it wouldn't be easy for them to share this place with "a bunch of hotshot upstart outsiders". He nevertheless decided that, if he was to belong here, he needed to treat them like brothers, in the same way he did the other members of his tribe and the soldiers he served with. As if on cue, Iceman (who had been very angry and protective of his turf) showed up. Thunderbird attempted to have a pleasant chat with him, even asking if Bobby could show him some of the secrets of the place. In response, Bobby angrily spat back that Proudstar didn't belong and that he didn't approve of the others horning in on their home and their lives. To prove his point, he turned to ice and encased Thunderbird. Done with pleasantries, Proudstar flexed his muscles to break out of the ice sheath, while coldly telling Iceman that the professor asked them to come, which gave them all the right to be there.

(X-Men I#94) - Two days after fighting Krakoa, Xavier called in the X-Men to officially invite the newcomers to sign on. Thunderbird watched as Sunfire refused the invitation and flew off, while Angel, Havok, Marvel Girl and Polaris announced they were leaving as well. Much to everyone's surprise of the original team only Cyclops remained.

(Classic X-Men#2) - After saying goodbye to the departing X-Men, Cyclops quickly went down to business and showed the new recruits the Danger Room, daring them to walk across it. Thunderbird, unimpressed by what looked like little more than an empty room, stormed in only to be immediately and quite forcefully tossed out by the Danger Room's constructs. During the same session, Thunderbird and Wolverine narrowly dodged out of the way of a giant  press that hit Colossus. This led into a daily training regimen that lasted for weeks.

(Classic X-Men#3/2 (fb) ) - Pushing himself to the limit, Thunderbird spent many hours training in the Danger Room. Nightcrawler and Colossus watched as Proudstar unleashed his fury on a punching bag, with Kurt teasing John that bag would never say a cross word ever again. In response, Thunderbird lashed out and hit the bag so hard it flew off its chain. Colossus caught the projectile and wondered just why "comrade Thunderbird" was training so much and what he was trying to prove. Proudstar explained he was simply blowing off some steam, admitting that he was constantly asking himself what kind of life he and the others would have as an X-Man: "duding up in skintights and punching heads for Xavier for the rest of our lives. And if we do: how long will those lives last?" Nightcrawler then wondered why John didn't leave if he felt like that. Proudstar couldn't answer that question, only saying it's perhaps because he had nowhere else to go.

(Giant-Size X-Men I#4) - As part of the X-Men's continued training sessions, Thunderbird faced off against Storm, barely holding his own as he dodged her elemental tempest. During the next exercise, Cyclops ordered the two mutants to fight without using their powers. Storm tore into Proudstar, dodging his first blow by jumping over him, covering his face with her cape and using his own momentum to send him crashing into a wall. Impressed, Proudstar came at her again and eventually managed to pin Ororo down. Despite her pleas and kicks, he continued to lay on top of her, unaware this evoked childhood memories of her almost being raped. Wolverine sensed Storm's distress and told his teammate to lay off, much to Thunderbird's surprise. Already insecure about his place among the team, Thunderbird quietly snuck around the mansion to do some thinking. He overheard a conversation between Xavier and Wolverine in which Logan described himself, Storm and Proudstar as being "damaged goods". Startled, John next ran into Cyclops who was having a telepathic conversation with Jean Grey, discussing the incident earlier that day. He then entered Wolverine's room, doing his best to cover his tracks by avoiding all the empty beer cans. Proudstar spotted a photo of Logan in the army among his belongings, making him realize Wolverine had also fought a war. This brought back memories of his own tour of duty, in which his uncle Jack was killed. Shaking these feelings off, he decided to visit Storm and apologize for his earlier behavior. She wasn't in, but he encountered the telepathic projection of Professor Xavier in her stead. Xavier told John why Storm reacted the way she did, showing him the knife she used to kill the man who had tried to rape her as a child. He also addressed the doubts John was having about staying, while also pointing out he shouldn't blame himself for his uncle Jack's death. John, however, claimed he should have spotted the ambush because he was a mutant. Hoping to make amends with Storm, he left her a cactus as a gift, along with a card that read "prickly on the outside, maybe even dangerous. But the meat and sweet water within can save your life".

 (X-Men I#94) - Cyclops continued to mercilessly put the new X-Men through their paces. Acting like a true taskmaster, he accepted no failure and berated anyone who made the slightest mistakes. When Thunderbird got grazed by a laserbeam during a reckless moment in the Danger Room, Cyclops chewed him out over his consistent carelessness, claiming that if this had been a real fight, he'd have lost his leg. Furious, Thunderbird claimed Cyclops had been riding him since the day he got there and that he would rearrange his face if he didn't let up. His tirade was interrupted by the mental image of Xavier, who ordered Proudstar to report to the infirmary while telling Scott to come to his office. Shamed, Proudstar barked at Storm when she looked at him, asking her if it bothered her to work with a loser. In response, Ororo said she saw no "loser", only a man.

(Classic X-Men#2 - BTS) - Cyclops discussed his concerns regarding Thunderbird with Professor Xavier. Scott felt Proudstar was in constant competition with Wolverine and unable to abide the notion of coming in second. Combined with his natural dislike of authority figures, this made Thunderbird exceptionally hard to reach, according to Cyclops. Xavier nevertheless urged him to continue on.

(Classic X-Men#2) - Shortly after his leg injury had been treated, Storm spotted Thunderbird racing along the cliffside at top speed, ready to jump into the waters of the Spuytin Duyvil cove. Fearing a leap from such a height would kill him, Storm quickly summoned winds to get him to safety. When asked what he was trying to prove, Thunderbird merely stated that he'd saw Wolverine make the jump once and that he could match everything Logan could do, dismissing Storm's remark that his bones weren't unbreakable. She also offered that he shouldn't be so competitive, after all a knife honed to too keen an edge might shatter when used. He dismissed her concerns outright.

(Classic X-Men#3/2) - Some time later, Thunderbird paid a visit to Storm in her attic, surprising the windrider by his undetectable approach. Once again comparing himself to Wolverine and finding himself lacking, Storm wondered once more why he continued to be so hard on himself when she noticed her teammate was visibly uncomfortable among the plants that filled her quarters. Thunderbird explained they reminded him of the jungle, ever since his time in the army being surrounded by foliage made him edgy and uneasy. Back in the war, a moment of carelessness could cost you your life in the jungle. Hoping to change the subject, Storm asked him about his native land. Proudstar replied it was nothing special, a place he couldn't wait to leave yet he missed with all his heart as soon as he left. When asked about any family and friends, he told her that he had family back at Camp Verde, but that he left all his friends in the jungle. To her question if he had any loved ones, his answer was a solemn "A girl to cherish? Kids to raise? Never."

(X-Men I#94 - BTS) - The X-Men's old enemy Count Nefaria (and his Ani-Men) invaded NORAD headquarters at Colorado's Valhalla Mountain Complex, thereby taking control of the Doomsmith Command System which allowed him access to America's strategic missile force. Nefaria sent out a message to the nations of the world, demanding they all paid him ransom money, depending on the size of the individual countries' income. If they refused to cooperate, he would fire the missiles. With the Avengers unavailable and Nefaria only allowing the world three hours to consider his demands, Beast contacted Professor Xavier.

(X-Men I#94) - Thunderbird and the others were summoned to the mansion's briefing room by Xavier who showed them Nefaria's message. Beast, startled to see the new X-Men for the first time, was initially worried if they were able to handle the crisis but both Xavier and Cyclops reassured him. As they prepared to head for Valhalla Mountain, Cyclops ordered Thunderbird to stay behind in light of his recent leg injury. Outraged, Proudstar offered to slug it out if he was to stay behind. With no time to waste, Xavier allowed Thunderbird to go anyway, figuring they needed all the help they could to beat Nefaria in time. Once they reached the Colorado Rockies, Nefaria turned the base's defense systems on the approaching Black Bird, using missiles and sonic disruptors to destroy both the jet and its escape vessel.

(X-Men I#95) - Thanks to Storm and Banshee, all the non flying mutants safely reached the ground with Sean first taking Thunderbird down before returning for Cyclops. With limited time to disable the Doomsmith system, Cyclops ordered them to invade Valhalla Mountain. Thunderbird scoffed at the idea, sarcastically asking if he happened to have a spare key.

(Classic X-Men#3) - In response, Cyclops had Banshee use his sonic wail as a sonar, mapping the insides of the otherwise impenetrable mountain base. Doing this put considerable strain on Sean's sonic powers, but he managed to locate a spot Nightcrawler could safely teleport to.

(X-Men I#95 - BTS) - Nightcrawler managed to teleport inside, only to be spotted by Frog-Man. After a brief fight, during which Nefaria was alerted to the X-Men's presence, Kurt defeated Frog-Man. Locating the manual controls for the surface access hatch, he allowed the other X-Men to enter.

(X-Men I#95) -Making their way through the tunnels, the X-Men noticed they were being exposed to knock out gas. Hoping to escape its effects by smashing through the nearest wall, they ran into a batallion of soldiers still inside the massive complex who immediately opened fire. Storm dealt with them by summoning a massive rain storm resulting in a torrential flood that washed them all away.

(Classic X-Men#3) - Desperate to prove himself, Thunderbird boldly announced he would be taking point in their search for Nefaria. Cyclops shot him down, giving the job to Wolverine instead, stating that not only was he the better scout of the two because of his ultra keen senses, he was also familiar with the terrain seeing as he was stationed at Valhalla during his time with the Canadian military. Angered, Thunderbird yelled that he was part of this team too, which led to Cyclops saying that he shouldn't have any trouble following orders in that case. Ashamed because he had once again lost his temper, Proudstar berated himself while realizing there was nothing he could do one of the others can't do better. 

(X-Men I#95) - The question how he could contribute to the team kept Thunderbird so distracted, he allowed the Ani-Men to surprise him. Ape-Man jumped the Apache and quickly threw him at Banshee, taking out both men in the process. When the others had dealt with the Ani-Men, thereby inadvertently and unknowingly destroying the controls of the Doomsmith System, they rushed to stop the launch of the nuclear missiles. The team was forced to leave the still unconscious Banshee and Thunderbird behind. When they came to, they spotted Count Nefaria who was headed for the nearest hangar. Determined to prevent him from escaping, Thunderbird jumped on Nefaria's jet as it took off. Banshee pleaded with him to jump off, claiming he could stop the craft with a sonic blast. Proudstar wouldn't listen, not even to Professor Xavier's telepathic projection. As he kept tearing at the aircraft, Thunderbird told Xavier to "butt out baldy", because he was through taking orders. He continued to say he'd been a loner all his life, dumped on by everybody he'd met. "But I am a man, a warrior of the Apache and today I'm gonna prove it". Proudstar's assault eventually caused the jet to explode, killing him while Xavier was still inside his mind, experiencing the X-Man's horrific death as well.

(Thunderbolts 2000 (fb) - BTS) - At the instant of his death, John Proudstar's essence was transported to the Arena of Lost Souls. In this section of Mephisto's realm, noble but flawed (many of them superhuman) battle endlessly.

(X-Men & Dr. Doom Annual 1998 - BTS) - Hoping to learn more about the creation of the powerful Onslaught entity, Doctor Doom was travelling through time to visit pivotal moments in the creature's eventual creation. One of them was Xavier experiencing Thunderbird's death throes. Doom noted it would be curious to see how such a tragedy would affect Xavier's psyche, before continuing on.





 (Classic X-Men#3/2 (fb) - BTS) - The X-Men collected Proudstar's remains and, accompanied by Professor Xavier, returned their fallen comrade to his home at Camp Verde where he could be laid to rest. Not long after they arrived, John's younger brother James took Proudstar's body, planning to give him a traditional funeral worthy of a true Apache warrior.

(Classic X-Men#3/2 - BTS) - When the X-Men discovered John's coffin was empty, they were ready to go look for the grave robber. Neal and Maria Proudstar however asked them not to interfere, after all they had already done enough. Not taking no for an answer, Wolverine set out to find whoever was responsible anyway.

(Classic X-Men#3/2) - It didn't take Wolverine long to pick up Thunderbird's scent, which led him to a private Apache burial mound in the nearby mountains. Keeping a respectful distance, he watched as the young boy James tried his best to perform the sacred rituals of his people. However, Logan left before he could hear James vowing to his brother he would avenge his death by killing the man he blamed for John's death: Charles Xavier.

(X-Men I#96 - BTS) - Several weeks after Thunderbird's funeral, his death still weighed heavy on the mind of Cyclops who, as team leader, blamed himself for what had happened during the Valhalla mission. Venting his frustration during a walk in the woods near the mansion, Cyclops' optic beams cut up the landscape. After his tirade, chastizing himself for the damage he caused, Scott was able to view the loss of Thunderbird more rationally. He figured that as an X-Man, Proudstar knew the risks as well as all the others and that he should stop blaming himself for being alive. As he headed back to the mansion, Cyclops failed to notice his stray blast had unearthed a N'Garai cairn which allowed Kierrok to gain a foothold on Earth.

(Uncanny X-Men I#365 - BTS) - Every Christmas Eve, Professor Charles Xavier made it a point to remember Thunderbird and all those who had fallen under his guidance. Xavier took the time to look at their photographs and re-read their files in order to keep their spirits alive in his mind. They also served as a reminder he should continue to work on protecting those he still can in the future.  

(Uncanny X-Men I#138 - BTS) - At the funeral of Jean Grey (actually the Phoenix Force taken human form), Cyclops reflected on his life as an X-Man and all it had cost him. Thinking back to Thunderbird's death, he wondered if his demise made him realize the true cost of a mistake.

(Uncanny X-Men I#187 - BTS) - Following Storm's accidental depowerment by Forge's Neutralizer weapon, Nightcrawler assembled an X-Men meeting where he openly questioned if the team served any purpose, seeing as they were continuously hated and hounded no matter what good they did. Kurt recounted how Banshee and Storm were maimed because they fought for Xavier's dream, while both Thunderbird and Jean paid the ultimate price. This was enough for Nightcrawler to consider quitting the X-Men so he could at least live a life for himself and the woman he loved.

(Dark Angel#6) - The spirit of Thunderbird, along with those of Guardian (he was believed dead at the time, but wasn't....someone else had to be posing as him), Miss America (Madeline Frank) and Torpedo (Brock Jones), were summoned from the afterlife to fight Mys-Tech on behalf of the Dark Angel who had entered the realm looking for her father's soul. Though the heroine realized the spirits were fighting for her, she couldn't stop and help them figuring her mission took precedence.

(Thunderbolts 2000) - Hawkeye spotted Thunderbird in the Arena of Lost Souls when he entered Mephisto's realm to bargain for his late wife Mockingbird's soul.

(New X-Men II#13 - BTS) - The X-Men had a statue of Thunderbird commissioned, which became part of the memorial garden on the school grounds which honored members who had died in the line of fire. Thunderbird's was located near the newly revealed statue of Northstar, a ceremony attended by most of the student body at Xavier's.   

(X-Force III#10 (fb) - BTS) - James Proudstar learned that Eli Bard had come to Camp Verde to dig up his fellow Apache tribesmen, including Thunderbird.

(X-Force III#10 - BTS) - Using a combination of magic and the alien transmode virus, Eli Bard (aka Eliphas) succesfully resurrected Thunderbird and all his fallen tribesmen who were now completely subservient to him.

(X-Force III#11) - Eli Bard took Proudstar and the other revived Apache members to see Selene in her New Orleans mansion. Bard offered the services of his minions to her. Initially uninterested and ready to have them killed, Selene accepted Bard's proposal when he presented her with the equally resurrected mutant tracker Caliban, now capable of locating deceased mutants Selene could add to her army.

(X-Necrosha: The Gathering (fb) ) - Eliphas looked back on his past and remembered how he'd only recently managed to ally himself with Selene by offering her the services of Caliban, Thunderbird and the Apache tribesmen.

(X-Necrosha#1 - BTS) - Taking Thunderbird as part of her personal guard, Selene travelled to Genosha where she and Bard began the process of resurrecting the millions of mutants slaughtered there by the Sentinels. One of the revived victims was the psychic Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who became another one of Selene's personal aides.

(X-Force III#23) - Sitting on her throne in Necrosha (as Genosha was now known), Selene was flanked by Thunderbird and Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who told the defiant Proudstar that his younger brother James would be coming to Necrosha and that he'd be forced to fight him until they were both dead again. Selene told the two to stop their bickering.

(X-Force III#23 - BTS) - Hoping to retrieve a sacrificial knife possessed by Warpath that would allow her to ascend to  godhood, Selene sent Blink, Mortis, Senyaka and Bard to Utopia where they successfully took both the blade and Warpath back to Necrosha. This led Wolverine's X-Force team to mount a rescue operation.

(X-Force III#24) - When Blink warped Proudstar straight into Selene's throneroom on Necrosha, she took the sacrificial knife from him and ordered Thunderbird to throw his brother into the dungeon. Later, when X-Force had arrived on the island to rescue James and had to fight through Selene's legions of the undead, Thunderbird was forced to use the knife to cut his brother, using his blood to draw the sigils that would lead to Selene's ascension. Even though he wasn't in control of his body, stabbing James through the hand and using it to continue to draw the symbols, Thunderbird quietly told Warpath what would happen should Selene succeed and how she could be stopped. He then implored his sibling to stop him before he killed him. Moments later, reluctant X-Force member Vanisher appeared in Selene's temple and tried to whisk away Warpath. Though he succeeded, and was critically injured by both Blink and Thunderbird, the sigils were already completed and Selene rose to godhood.

(X-Force III#25 - BTS) - Acting on what Thunderbird had told him, Warpath applied the traditional Apache face markings on X-Force, explaining his people's customs and the ghost dance, which allowed them to interact with the dead and even kill evil spirits. Properly sanctificied, X-Force made their move to stop Selene.

(X-Force III#25) - While X-Force fought Selene's inner circle, Warpath faced Thunderbird. After a ferocious struggle, James proved to be the stronger Proudstar brother, snapping John's neck before continuing on to take the fight to Selene. After X-Force succeeded in stopping Selene, reverting her to normal, the ghost of a now free and enlightened John Proudstar appeared before Warpath, telling his brother he could let go now.

(Chaos War: X-Men#1) - During the war against the Chaos King (Amatsu-Mikaboshi), several deceased X-Men and associates (Banshee, Thunderbird, Esme & Sophie Cuckoo, Moira MacTaggert and several Madrox duplicates), found themselves resurrected at the destroyed Xavier Institute. Unbeknownst to anyone, Destiny had come back as well, secretly inhabiting Moira MacTaggert's body, while slowly turning it into a copy of her own. In the wreckage of the Institute, Moira found a copy of Destiny's diaries that outlined in great detail how they could help stop the march of the Chaos King, by travelling to Muir Island and unlocking the power of the intersecting laylines located there. Shortly after that, the Chaos King's lackey Carrion Crow made his presence known, ready to stop the X-Men from carrying out their mission. Even as Thunderbird summoned the power of the Sky God that was responsible for their resurrection to arrange transportation to Muir, the villain claimed several Madrox duplicates and turned Esme Cuckoo into his personal slave. Thunderbird, acting as the de facto leader, led the others through the portal to Muir Island at the last possible moment.

(Chaos War: X-Men#2) - On Muir Island, the remaining X-Men were about to be overrun by Carrion Crow and his followers, until John Proudstar became one with the Thunderbird. Unleashing its mystical energies to unlock the laylines, Proudstar, Banshee, Sophie Cuckoo and Destiny sacrificed themselves once more so the rest of the universe had a fighting chance to live. As they returned to the grave, Proudstar turned to Sophie and told her that the next time he was resurrected, he hoped they could do so together, hugging in their final moments.

Comments: Created by Len Wein (writer), Dave Cockrum (pencils & inks)

For clarity's sake, I have only included Thunderbird's appearances when the character was actually present or if people discussing him (or his death) added something new and/or meaningful to the established story. For that reason, I've omitted his X-Men Legacy cameos, which were either illusions or fragmented memories of Xavier. Same goes for dream sequences or fantasies such as Warpath's Onslaught induced hallucination about chasing bison with John in X-Force I#58, his brief cameo as a vision in Avengers : The Children's Crusade#8, not to mention the many photographs he was seen in throughout the X-Men's history.

In retrospect, it seems rather obvious that Proudstar suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following his experiences in the army. His time in the Asian jungles left him rattled, shellshocked and unable to (emotionally) reconnect with the world in a meaningful way. You have to wonder if Xavier's decision to recruit a man so mentally damaged was all that wise, especially if you consider Proudstar had to fight Krakoa during his first mission, which is essentially the embodiment of all his nightmares: a living jungle out to kill him. 

Thunderbird's death started the semi-official tradition to kill off at least one member of any new mutant team. When he created the New Mutants, Claremont had Karma quit the book when she allegedly died. A decade or so later, Scott Lobdell made sure Blink didn't survive the first mission of Generation X and several years after that, the ill fated Young X-Men lost their neophyte member Wolf Cub when he was killed by Donald Pierce posing as Cyclops.

In today's (perhaps) overly sensitive politically correct world, creating a Native American character, making him extremely unlikeable and then killing him off after only three issues would undoubtedly cause more of a stir than it did back in 1975. In those days, Thunderbird was one of the first Apaches in comics after all. But keeping someone around for the sake of diversity alone wasn't the right choice either. Writer Len Wein's decision to kill him off so quickly had the right effect: it shocked readers that a character, any character, could die. In the long run, Proudstar's early demise might even have been the character's saving grace. In 2008's Native Americans in Comic Books - A Critical Study, author Michael A. Sheyahshe compared John Proudstar to rapper Tupac Shakur, noting that "Thunderbird becomes even more popular, posthumously, than he ever was while living."

Yours truly has always wondered how the X-Men's team dynamic would have developed if Thunderbird had lived (or if Sunfire had stayed on, for that matter). At the end of the day, Chris Claremont's assessment of Thunderbird's powers was correct: his abilities were pretty much superfluous. Sure, he was strong, but nowhere near Colossus' league. He was a pretty good tracker, but lacked Wolverine's superior senses (not to mention the unbreakable bones, healing factor or claws). He could move pretty quick and had above average reflexes, but who needs that when your other teammate is a teleporter with a tail who was raised in the circus as an acrobat? All that led to him feeling even more insecure about his place on the team, eager to prove his worth and eventually paying for that with his life. Still, when he finally returned from the grave (albeit briefly) during the Chaos War crossover, he was suddenly capable of channelling the power of the Apache god he took his name from. But, sadly, by that point the X-Men already had at least one member who was empowered by a godlike being who used a bird motif...  Sometimes, you just can't win.

The Captain America seen in Mephisto's Hell in Thunderbolts 2000 was either the Spirit of '76, Jeff Mace (aka Patriot) or Roscoe Simons.


Thunderbird received profiles in Marvel Encyclopedia: X-Men#1, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe I#14 (March, 1984), Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#20 (February, 1988), Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Master Edition#3 (1991), Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Book of the Dead (2005) and All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe#12 A to Z (HC) (2010).

Profile by Norvo.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Thunderbird (John Proudstar) should not be confused with


images: (without ads)
Chaos War: X-Men#2 p22, pan3 (main image)
X-Force I#-1, p16, pan2 (wrestling a tiger)
Giant-Size X-Men I#1, p19, pans 2&3 (recruited by Xavier )
Giant Sized X-Men I#3, p8, pan6 (will outlast the other X-Men)
X-Men Gold#1, p33, pans 2&3 (analyzed by Wolverine)
Giant Sized X-Men I#4, p6, pan1 (manhandles Storm)
X-Men I#94, p14, pan5 (tagged by laserblasts)
Classic X-Men#3, p14, pans 5&6 (realizes he is superfluous)
Classic X-Men#3, p21, pan7 (sacrifices himself fighting Count Nefaria)
Classic X-Men#3, p33, pan2 (honored by his brother)
Uncanny X-Men I#187, p16, pan6 (remembered by Nightcrawler as a warning)
New X-Men II#13, p21, pan1 (statue in the memorial garden)
X-Necrosha: The Gathering, p41, pan3 (pressed into service by Eli Bard)
X-Force III#25, p31, pan2 (appearing as a ghost to Warpath)
Chaos War: X-Men#2, p21 pan 3-5 (Thunderbird and Sophie Cuckoo)


Appearances:
Giant-Size X-Men I#1 (May, 1975) - Len Wein (writer & editor), Dave Cockrum (pencils & inks)
X-Men I#94 (August, 1975) - Chris Claremont (writer), Dave Cockrum (pencils), Bob McLeod (inks), Len Wein (editor)
X-Men I#95 (October, 1975) - Chris Claremont (writer), Dave Cockrum (pencils), Sam Grainger (inks), Len Wein (editor)
X-Men I#96 (December, 1975) - Chris Claremont (writer), Dave Cockrum (pencils), Sam Grainger (inks), Marv Wolfman (editor)
Uncanny X-Men I#187 (December, 1984) - Chris Claremont (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Ann Nocenti (editor)
Classic X-Men#1 (September, 1986) - Chris Claremont (writer), John Bolton (pencils & inks), Ann Nocenti (editor)
Classic X-Men#2 (October, 1986) - Chris Claremont (writer), Dave Cockrum (pencils), Bob McLeod (inks), Ann Nocenti (editor)
Classic X-Men#3 (November, 1986) -
Chris Claremont (writer), John Bolton (pencils & inks), Ann Nocenti (editor)
Uncanny X-Men I#138 (October, 1980) - Chris Claremont (writer), John Byrne (pencils), Terry Austin (inks), Louise Jones (editor)

Dark Angel#6 (December, 1992) - Simon Furman (writer), Gary Frank (pencils), Andrew Lanning (pencils), Gary Russell (editor)
X-Force I#-1 (July, 1997) -  John Francis Moore (writer), Adam Pollina (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Mark Powers  (editor)
Uncanny X-Men I#365 (March, 1999) - Steven T. Seagle (writer), Chris Bachalo (pencils), Tim Townsend & Art Thibert (inks), Mark Powers (editor)
Thunderbolts 2000 (May, 2000) - Fabian Nicieza (writer), Norm Breyfogle (pencils & inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
New X-Men II#13 (July, 2005) - Nunzio DeFillipis & Christina Weir (writers), Michael Ryan (pencils), Rick Ketchum (inks), Mike Marts (editor)
Giant-Size X-Men I#3 (2005) -  Joss Whedon (writer), Neil Adams (pencils & inks), Mike Marts (editor)
Giant-Size X-Men I#4 (2006) - Chris Claremont (writer), Rick Leonardi (pencils), Jimmy Palmiotti (inks), Mike Marts (editor)
X-Force III#10 (February, 2009) - Craig Kyle & Chris Yost (writers), Clayton Crain (pencils), Alina Ursov (inks), John Barber (editor)
X-Force III#11 (March, 2009) - Craig Kyle & Chris Yost (writers), Mike Choi (pencils & inks), John Barber (editor)
X-Necrosha: The Gathering (February, 2010) - Craig Kyle & Chris Yost (writers), Mateus Santoluoco (pencils & inks), Jeanine Schaeffer (editor)
X-Necrosha#1 (December, 2009) - Craig Kyle, Chris Yost (writers), Clayton Crain (pencils, inks), Jeanine Schaefer, Nick Lowe (editors)

X-Force III#23 (March, 2010) - Craig Kyle, Chris Yost (writers), Clayton Crain (pencils & inks), Jeanine Schaefer (editor)
X-Force III#24 (April, 2010) - Craig Kyle, Chris Yost (writers), Clayton Crain (pencils & inks), Jeanine Schaefer (editor)
X-Force III#25 (May, 2010) - Craig Kyle, Chris Yost (writers), Clayton Crain (pencils & inks), Jeanine Schaefer (editor)
Chaos War: X-Men#1 (February, 2011) - Chris Claremont & Louise Simonson (writers), Doug Braithwaite (pencils & inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Chaos War: X-Men#2 (March, 2011) - Chris Claremont & Louise Simonson (writers), Doug Braithwaite (pencils & inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)


Last updated: 07/20/14

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