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Brian DeWolff was the son of Phillip DeWolff, who became police commissioner of New York City, and was raised by Phillip after the latter's divorce from Brian's mother Celia. (Celia received custody of Brian's sister Jean.). Brian graduated from the New York City police academy with the highest grades in his class and entered the city's police force. Despite their parents' separation and Phillip DeWolff's hatred for his daughter due to her decision to join the police herself (since Phillip did not regard women as fit for police work), Brian and Jean DeWolff greatly loved each other.[1]

Brian and his partner Tim were trapped by criminals near Manhattan's South Street Seaport. Two cars driven by criminals knocked over the police car in which Brian and Tim were riding, killing Tim. Brian was then shot, a bullet lodged in his spine.[1]

Learning over the police radio that Brian's police car was under attack, Phillip DeWolff drove to the scene and found his wounded son. Phillip took Brian to the former's home without informing anyone; hence, when other policeman arrived, they did not know what had happened to Brian. At his home Phillip discovered that the shooting had severed important regions of Brian's nervous system, paralyzing him and rendering him comatose. Unwilling to see his son live in such a state, Phillip summoned two wealthy men he knew, banker Karl Bonn and landlord Max Vorster, in the hope that they would finance a cure for Brian. Phillip wanted Brian to become a vigilante with superhuman abilities who would battle crime without being restricted by the law himself. DeWolff said, "He will be a wraith, dealing justice from beyond the grave!"[2]

Unknown to DeWolff, Bonn and Vorster were themselves lawbreakers and they had agreed to help Phillip only so that they would have the police commissioner in their debt. (As it turned out, at some point DeWolff was forced out of his job as police commissioner, apparently by his own superiors.) Bonn and Vorster aided DeWolff in obtaining advanced scientific equipment with which Phillip intended to restore Brian's mobility and, presumably, to endow him with psionic powers. When Bonn insisted that Brian use his psionic powers on behalf of himself and Vorster, Phillip finally realized that Bonn and Vorster were themselves criminals. Furious, Phillip attacked them, but they pushed him back into an apparatus called the revitalizer. On thus being struck, the revitalizer bathed both Phillip and the comatose Brian with energy Bonn and Vorster fled, assuming Phillip to be dead. In fact, the revitalizer linked the minds of Phillip and Brian, so that now Phillip could control Brian's body, make it walk and move normally, and control Brian's psionic powers. Phillip gave Brian the costume and identity of the Wraith and used him to take revenge on Bonn and Vorster.[2]

The Wraith, guided by Phillip's consciousness, succeeded in killing both Bonn and Vorster. But the Wraith's activities attracted the attention of Jean DeWolff and the crimefighters Iron Man and Spider-Man, all of whom clashed with the Wraith.[3] When Jean discovered the truth behind the Wraith's identity, Finally, Phillip tried to have the Wraith psychically murder Jean, Iron Man placed an "alpha-jammer" helmet on Phillip, preventing him from transmitting telepathic signals to Brian. Without the link to Phillip's mind, Brian returned to a state of catatonic helplessness.[2]

Brian DeWolff

While he and his still comatose son were on trial, Phillip not only regained control of the Wraith, but even projected his own mind into the Wraith's body. Doctor Strange and Iron Man defeated the Wraith, and Phillip's mind was forced back into his own body. Using magic to enable his hand to pass into Brian's body harmlessly, Strange removed the bullet in Brian's spine and mystically healed his injuries, restoring Brian's own mind to consciousness at last. The court found Brian innocent of the Wraith's crimes but found Phillip guilty of them and sentenced him to prison. Brian and Jean were joyously reunited.[4]

Subsequently, Jean and Brian, as the Wraith, aided Iron Man in battling the multimillionaire called Midas, who had temporarily seized control of Iron Man's company, Stark International.[5]

Much later, while Brian was in California, the criminal known as the Sin-Eater murdered Jean DeWolff. Since the Sin-Eater was himself a policeman, the grief-stricken Brian irrationally intended to take vengeance for his beloved sister's death on the entire New York City Police Department as the Wraith. But on arriving at a New York City police station in costume to begin his assault, the Wraith was himself shot dead by the vigilante Scourge, who was disguised at the time as a policeman.[6]

The spirit of the Wraith returned to the earthly plane for a time by force of will, and had an encounter with Morbius.[7]

He was resurrected with criminal victims of the Scourge by the Hood, in order to kill the Punisher.[8] He seemingly stayed apart from the criminals and acted solo, only to get shot by Castle, who was informed by Henry that he was supposed to be dead.[9]


Power Grid[11]
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  • Telepathy: The Wraith possessed various psionic powers. He was capable of reading the minds of other people and could take control of the mind of one other person at a time. He could cast illusions in the minds of one or more witnesses at once; by this means he could make reality itself appear to change in incredible ways, or he could make himself appear to become invisible. He could also mentally induce pain in a victim without causing him or her any actual physical injury. He could even affect Spider-Man's mind in such a way as to shield himself from detection by his spider-sense.
  • Telekinesis: The Wraith could telekinetically levitate matter; the limits on this ability are unknown.


DeWolff was a trained police officer.

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