Full Name: John Proudstar
Occupation: Former marine, former instructor at Xavier Institute, private security operative
Mutant Abilities: Enhanced strength and durability, sharpened reflexes and agility, superhuman endurance
History: The circumstances of John Proudstar were not unusual at first. He was born on an Apache reservation. His family was part of a prominent heritage that held a lot of weight with the Apache people. However, that heritage did little to spare the family from hardship.
Like many others on the Apache reservation at Cape Verde, Arizona, the Proudstars lived in poverty. As the second and youngest son of the Proudstar family, he was born at a time when the ranch his family owned was failing. He and his older brother, James, spent most of their youth helping out in whatever ways they could. It was a losing battle as many ranches throughout the area were failing due to a prolonged drought. At times John’s father drowned his sorrows in alcohol and took his frustrations out on his boys. This was made much worse when John’s mother died when he was only four. This difficult loss along with the failing ranch motivated John and his brother to seek a better life.
In addition to being well-regarded by the tribe, the Proudstar family had a proud warrior tradition. For generations, Proudstar boys were trained in the traditional warrior ways. John and his brother immersed themselves in these ways form a young age. Being the youngest, he was often at odds with his brother since he always seemed ahead of him. It motivated John to train harder.
As the years went by, his rivalry with his older brother grew. Unlike him, James was arrogant and quick-tempered. He didn’t train as hard as John, relying on his larger stature to win his battles. It put him at odds with his father and others in the tribe. John frequently fought his brother through their training and lost every time. During this period he earned the title, Thunderbird. He sought to overcome his older brother through focus rather than force.
Eventually he got his chance. When he was 15, his father took him and James to a warrior tournament with the rest of the tribe. This put both their skills to the ultimate text. As expected, he faced his older brother in the final round. He was not expected to win. However, his work ethic along with his focus allowed him to pull off a major upset. He beat James and claimed the title.
While this was a proud moment for him and the Proudstars, James was furious. The night after the tournament, he confronted John in a rematch. It took place atop a large rocky mound during a rare monsoon. The fight was intense and ended up with John being wounded. Then in an unexpected turn, lightning struck the rock. When it hit John and his brother, it activated their mutant powers. They fell from the cliff, but survived the impact. They later learned that the Proudstar family had a long lineage of mutants. It was part of what made them such powerful warriors. It put John and James in a new position that would tear them apart while setting a new path.
Shortly after learning of their powers, James left the reservation on bitter terms. He refused to be the lesser of two great warriors. John stayed behind and continued his training. For a time, he had a great deal of prestige. It proved to be short lived. Shortly after he turned 18, his father lost the ranch. With nowhere to go and opportunities dwindling, John made the difficult decision to leave the reservation as well.
He found a new opportunity with the military. He enlisted in the marines, hiding his mutant status and working his way into higher levels of training. However, he quickly clashed with his superiors. His warrior training did not fit well with marine training. He was unable to get along with his fellow soldiers. While his skills earned him a role in a few advanced operations, it did not last.
His mutant status did not stay secret. Since mutants were banned from the military, it was only a matter of time before he was caught. His status had been kept secret because some officers believed he could be an asset. However, John refused to be a tool. This led to him being dishonorably discharged when he was 21.
It was a bleak time and once again John was short on opportunities. Then a man named Charles Xavier approached him. He offered John a new job at his newly formed Xavier Institute. John was skeptical at first, but took a chance and became the institute’s first combat instructor.
Using his marine training and warrior experience, he taught the X-men how to fight. It was under his tutelage that the X-men went from students to masked superheroes. For a time he was the leader, putting on a mask himself and leading the X-men in their fight for acceptance. It was a rewarding experience and one that helped him put his warrior skills to a noble use.
During his time with the X-men, he also grew closer to one of his students, Jean Grey. When she was 17, they became lovers. Their relationship blossomed as the X-men expanded and adapted to changing times. However, some of those changes proved difficult for John to adapt to.
When he was 25, he received a call from the reservation. His father had passed away. The tribe was in chaos and in need of leadership. His older brother wasn’t going to step up. His people were on the verge of losing everything. It put John in a difficult decision. He had to choose between his people or the X-men. He chose his people. At the same time, his relationship with Jean Grey had faltered. She and the rest of the X-men had matured to a point where they did not need him anymore. So with a heavy heart, he left.
Upon returning to the reservation, John helped bring some sense of order back to the tribe. However, the reservation was still short on money and resources. That’s what led him to join White Cell, a private military company that often employed mutants. In exchange for his services, they provided the Apache reservation with badly needed capital. His work for White Cell has been secretive yet extensive. He still maintains close ties to the X-men and his warrior heritage.
Character Breakdown: Like many others in his family, John Proudstar is motivated by a warrior mentality. This mentality is steeped in a combative mindset. He sees an enemy and he’s compelled to take down that enemy by any means necessary. Because of his warrior skills and mutant powers, he’s more capable of taking down his enemies than a normal human. The enemy is not always a person or an object. This mentality puts him in a mindset where anything he can call an enemy is a target. It’s what allows him to stay focused. It allows him to thrive where fear and anxiety may cripple others.
This combative mindset is strongly contrasted with a strong sense of nobility. John watched his older brother become arrogant and ill-tempered growing up. He also felt the impact directly because his brother frequently beat him when they trained together. Since his brother was older and stronger, John couldn’t rely on brute strength to overcome him. He had to train and focus his efforts. He was instilled with a stronger sense of humility, one that allowed him to embrace his warrior mentality in a way that went beyond simply overcoming an enemy.
This balance in mindset is also influenced by his status as an outsider. Being a mutant Native American, he is constantly on the outside looking in. He has difficulty relating to others as shown in his inability to get along in the marines. He’s someone who believes in doing the right thing, but he lacks the social skills and personality traits that allow him to get along with others. He’s able to get along with fellow outsiders, which is why he was able to fit in with the X-men. This detached persona also influenced him to leave the institute. Rather than rely on others, he would rather make the difficult decisions other’s won’t make. It speaks highly of his noble warrior mentality and his social insecurities.