There aren’t many legacy heroes filling out the ranks of the uncanny X-Men, which makes the mutant known as Warpath truly unique amongst the unique. With his superhuman strength, speed, durability, and fighting skills, James Proudstar has served on a number of X-Men affiliated teams: X-Force, the X-Corps, Wolverine’s black ops X-Force squad, and the X-Men proper. But as the younger brother of the fallen X-Man codenamed Thunderbird, he hasn’t always been a stalwart supporter of Professor Xavier’s dream.
James Proudstar first appeared thirty years ago in NEW MUTANTS #16, by Chris Claremont and Sal Buscema. The issue marked the debut of the Hellions, the Hellfire Club’s teen team of misguided mutants, with Proudstar following the White Queen‘s wishes. Using his deceased brother’s codename, Thunderbird II joined the Hellions as part of an elaborate plan for vengeance. But first, T-Bird had to tangle with Xavier’s protégés, the New Mutants, who had snuck onto the Massachusetts Academy campus to rescue Kitty Pryde from the White Queen.
Proudstar took out Sunspot, the team’s heavy-hitter, with one hit, demonstrating that John Proudstar’s little brother packed a big punch.
But James’ inexperience got the better of him when he let Rahne Sinclair’s half wolf form catch him off guard. Go easy on the kid – he’d just come to Massachusetts and they didn’t have half-wolf girls with thick Irish accents on the Apache reservation he grew up on.
The crack’s in Proudstar’s tough demeanor began to show when Sunspot went up against the Hellion called Roulette. She took great pleasure in throwing the New Mutant into a state of agony, but her ruthlessness didn’t sit right with James.
James Proudstar’s connection to the X-Man Thunderbird became clear in the next issue, when the White Queen confronted her charges about their skirmish with the now captive New Mutants.
Proudstar’s protests fell on deaf ears, and before he knew it he found himself in another altercation with Xavier’s students. The Mutants hastened their escape plan as soon as big time baddie Sebastian Shaw arrived on the scene.
The New Mutants and Kitty Pryde’s extreme desire to escape from the Hellions planted a seed of doubt in James Proudstar’s mind. He wouldn’t remain with the villainess for much longer; in fact, after a failed attempt on Xavier’s life in UNCANNY X-MEN #193, Proudstar would forever flee from the influence of the Hellfire Club. He changed his name to Warpath and joined up with the remnants of the New Mutants in NEW MUTANTS #99, just in time for that team to turn into Cable’s X-Force. Since then, Warpath’s been a force for good in the Marvel Universe as he continues to honor his brother’s memory.