John Proudstar was born on an Apache reservation in Camp Verde, Arizona. During his childhood and adolescence, John proved to be an exceptionally strong and vigorous athlete. John, however, regarded himself throughout his life as a loner and an outcast. John wished to prove himself to be a warrior in the tradition of his ancestors and was dissatisfied with what he regarded as the complacent lives led by his fellow Apaches on their reservation. Although too young to join the armed forces, Proudstar lied about his age and entered the United States Marines, intending to lead the kind of active life he desired. Proudstar became a corporal and earned a number of medals, but still was dissatisfied with his life once his tour of duty was over and he had returned to the reservation.
Proudstar's mutant superhuman strength first manifested itself when, at the age of twenty and using only his bare hands, he wrestled and threw a charging bison to save an endangered little girl. This feat earned Proudstar fame among his tribe's people on the reservation, but the true nature of his abilities remained unknown, until Professor Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men, a team of mutant heroes, discovered him. Through the use of his mutant-detecting computer Cerebro, Prof. Xavier located Proudstar, whom he invited to join the X-Men. The first mission that Proudstar and six other new recruits undertook was the rescue of the original X-Men from the "living island" of Krakoa in the South Pacific. With the exception of Sunfire, all of these new recruits, including Proudstar, decided to stay on and became the "new" X-Men, when the originals chose to depart. Prof. Xavier gave Proudstar the code name "Thunderbird". This third group of X-Men were mostly adults and required no tutoring from Professor X, but trained in the use of their powers in the Danger Room, overseen by team leader Cyclops.
On their next mission, the new X-Men went to Cheyenne Mountain in the Colorado Rockies, the location of a North American Air Defense command center, which had been taken over by Count Luchino Nefaria as part of an international extortion scheme. After the X-Men foiled his plans, Nefaria attempted to escape in a small aircraft and Thunderbird managed to climb onto the plane as it took off. Defying Prof. Xavier's telepathic warnings to get off the plane, Thunderbird asserted that he was finally going to prove he was a true Apache warrior. Using his superhuman strength, Thunderbird ripped open part of the plane and wreaked havoc on its internal systems. Furiously, Thunderbird pummeled the aircraft until finally it exploded, killing him instantly. Nefaria, however, survived by using a teleportation device.
During the events of Necrosha, Thunderbird was resurrected by Selene Gallio and Eli Bard with the Transmode virus after years of rest. Enslaved by Selene and forced to do her bidding, John was nevertheless able to council his younger brother Warpath on how to overcome Selene. After X-Force and his younger brother defeated Selene, John was returned to the land of the dead, telling his brother that "he can let go now."
During the events of Chaos War, Thunderbird was one of the many heroes who returned from the Underworld after the boundaries between the afterlife and Earth thinned. He, along with his fellow resurrected X-Men Banshee, Moira MacTaggert (or her Shi'ar golem), Esme and Sophie Cuckoo, as well as three Multiple Men, battled the forces of the Carrion Crow: Eater of the Dead who was a minion of the Chaos King. In the fierce battle that resulted, John used the power of the god of his people, the Thunderbird, to defeat the Carrion Crow and repair Earth's ley lines, leaving him and Sophie the last two standing. He returned to the grave, this time contemplating that his life finally meant something, and musing that perhaps he and Sophie would have another chance at life some time.
Following the creation of the mutant nation of Krakoa and the mutant group the Five, mutants that had died before their time began to be resurrected. John was eventually resurrected, and welcomed back to life by his old teammates Storm and Banshee.
Still distrustful of Xavier and Magneto and feeling out of place on an island where everyone remembered him as a martyr, John went back to Arizona to find the one family member he had left besides James: his grandmother Lozen. Returning to his reservation, he found the place deserted, save some kids who informed that the local police had come to round up all their mutants, with the elders who protested having been arrested. Donning a new outfit specially designed by Jumbo Carnation, he stormed the local police station to rescue the prisoners, but faced resistance from the Heritage Initiative, the group that was planning to experiment on them, led by his old enemy Martynec. Thunderbird began fighting the Initiative, giving his people time to escape. After beating Martynec to a pulp, he was prepared to kill him but was stopped by a surprise reunion with his grandmother, who convinced him to spare his life because killing him would bring more people after the Apache. After planting a Krakoan gateway outside his grandmother's house so that he, his grandma and his brother could reunite, he resolved to embrace his dual heritage by becoming a defender of both mutants and Apache.
Thunderbird is a mutant.
Superhuman Strength: Thunderbird was superhumanly strong and could lift approximately 2 tons under optimum conditions.
Superhuman Stamina: Thunderbird's muscles produced less fatigue toxins than the muscles of ordinary humans. He could exert himself at peak capacity for several hours before fatigue began to impair him.
Superhumanly Dense Tissue: Thunderbird's muscle tissue was three times as dense as that of a normal human being's and was distributed in such a way as to give Thunderbird massive shoulders, arms, and thighs. His skin was several times as dense as that of a normal human being's and included an additional layer of leathery epidermis.
Superhuman Durability: Due to the increased density of his skin and muscle tissues, Thunderbird's body was somewhat more resistant to physical injury than an ordinary human. Although far from invulnerable, he was capable of withstanding impact forces and blunt trauma that would have severely crippled or killed an ordinary human with only mild to moderate discomfort.
Superhuman Respiration: Thunderbird's lungs were oversized, and his respiratory system was developed in such a way as to allow him maximum wind and endurance with a minimum of oxygen intake. These features made Thunderbird a natural outdoor fighter and athlete.
John was an experienced hand-to-hand combatant. Thunderbird also possesses enhanced tracking capabilities.
Conventional knives and rifles
- John Proudstar's younger brother, James, would go on to become a member of the Hellfire Club's Hellions, and a member of the first incarnation of X-Force.
- After John's death, his genetic material was stolen by Mister Sinister and used to give himself a Mutant gene.
- Although Len Wein and Dave Cockrum don't exactly agree on the events that led to that decision, they eventually decided they wanted a character to be killed off soon after the beginning, so that readers would see how serious the new series was. Thunderbird was chosen because they thought he was too similar to Wolverine.
- Thunderbird appeared in one episode of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, but, instead of super strength and stamina, this Thunderbird possessed the ability to call upon the power of certain animals and manifest them, something that even surprised Iceman, as he muttered "I didn't know you could do that!".
- 41 appearance(s) of John Proudstar (Earth-616)
- 11 appearance(s) in handbook(s) of John Proudstar (Earth-616)
- 30 minor appearance(s) of John Proudstar (Earth-616)
- 29 mention(s) of John Proudstar (Earth-616)
- 3 mention(s) in handbook(s) of John Proudstar (Earth-616)
- 83 image(s) of John Proudstar (Earth-616)
- 4 quotation(s) by or about John Proudstar (Earth-616)
Links and References
- Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #14
- Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe (Vol. 2) #20
- Marvel Directory - Thunderbird
- uncannyxmen.net Spotlight On... Thunderbird