By Eric Drumm
Revenge is a dish best served cold, and nowhere is colder than the far reaches of space. While the cosmos may be chilly, the action has been red hot in the ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST tie-in series WRAITH. Written by "Lost" alum Javier Grillo-Marxuach, the Kree with a death list has been blasting the Phalanx with a burning fury, but is now wrapping up with issue #4.
Nameless but completely deadly, the ghostly Kree known as Wraith has been a man on a mysterious mission of revenge, finding himself entangled in the struggle that the Phalanx invasion has wreaked on the Kree empire. Finding himself in the middle of a war, his goal has seems to have been put on the back burner from those that need his help, but now going into the end he can almost take his revenge. Grillo-Marxuach is proud of his creation and what the book has accomplished going into the last issue.
"I think that the Kree With No Name has held his own with some of the greatest heroes of the Marvel Cosmic Universe," he says of the mysterious hero. "I'm proud of what "team Wraith" has accomplished in these four issues and hope that we've put out there a hero who will shine through the "Conquest" and beyond."
While the Phalanx have been attempting to take over the universe, Wraith has found himself embroiled in a conflict between them and a rag tag group of Kree rebels. While Quasar is rushing to find the savior of the universe and Star-Lord and his crew are trying to stop the Phalanx dead in their tracks, Wraith has been on the outskirts of the main war. While Wraith may not be on the frontlines, his story is an important cog in the "Conquest" epic.
"Wraith began as an outsider to the "Conquest" -- the readers got to know the events of the "Conquest" through his eyes, but as issue #4 concludes, Wraith's mission, in fact, his entire reason to be in Kree space will have taken a radical turn," explains Grillo-Marxuach.
"At the end of these four issues, Wraith will have changed the lives of four major cosmic characters -- he will have freed Super-Skrull and Praxagora, and because of him, Ronan and Supremor will have vastly changed roles in the Cosmic Universe. Wraith's journey has been one from outsider to hero, to major player in this conflict...and by the time the "Conquest" is done, you can bet that Wraith will deliver at least one more universe-rocking twist to this cosmic saga!"
Wraith may be fighting the Phalanx out of necessity, but his goal of revenge is still the fuel that keeps him going. Searching for the man responsible for the murder of his family, Wraith has had the war stand in his way and keep him from his mission. Like any cowboy, he just can't help but get involved. However, with his help needed more than ever, will his revenge have to wait while his attention is directed elsewhere?
"Well, that's the real question, isn't it?" quizzes Grillo-Marxuach.
"Wraith is bent on revenge, but he is also caught in the tides of something much, much greater than himself. The question of whether or not Wraith would find the man with the signet ring is one we have asked ourselves over and over at team Wraith headquarters, and I feel that Issue #4 brings that question to a head without closing the possibility that the story of Wraith will continue -- there's a very surprising end to this tale: and let's just say that however it works out, the man with the signet ring is never going to breathe easy."
A barricade on his trail to complete his mission is former emperor of the Kree, Ronan. Now under the Phalanx influence, Ronan has become the face of opposition for the Kree rebels who have taken to Wraith. In issue #3, Ronan has enough free will to make a decision saving the lives of his people, but at the cost of their assimilation. Meanwhile, Wraith sees his assistance to the rebellion as a means to achieving his revenge. Do these characters act as two sides of the same Kree coin?
"You bet!" gleefully confirms Grillo-Marxuach.
"There is a line that Wraith speaks at the height of his conflict with Ronan (and believe you me, these two are on a collision course that can only lead to massive strife) that might as well be the statement of the theme for the entire mini...it is "destiny makes slaves of us all." Wraith and Ronan are both men of destiny -- even though one has embraced that as a calling to save his people, one believes he has avoided it by going after purely selfish goals. At the end of this story, both men will be driven into a final showdown, and the consequences will forever define who they are and what they are to be in the remainder of the "Conquest"."
Wraith may grit his teeth a little at putting his mission on hold to help those in need, but it is only fitting for a cowboy like himself. Riding into town with a mystery and strength, Wraith has been like the cosmic Clint Eastwood. The reluctant hero, Wraith can't help but hear the people calling out to him even if it means possibly sacrificing his revenge. He may tell himself that it's a means to an end, but the dark rider might just become a hero in the process. Grillo-Marxuach says that this isn't entirely true, and the reasons may be shocking.
"Wraith is not a heroic character -- he has skills and powers that thrust the possibility of heroism before him, even though it is the last thing he wants. Eventually, Wraith will become a hero, but the real twist to this miniseries is the reason why: it is something that will surprise many, it's not as if Wraith is going to suddenly develop a love of the Kree and an altruistic desire to fight on their behalf -- Wraith is given a very specific choice at the end of Issue #4 that speaks to his thirst for vengeance, and I think his response will come as a very interesting surprise."
As "Conquest" speeds towards its finale, Wraith is gearing up for his own final battle and the reckoning that it will bring. He may have started out as an outsider, but ended up a formidable solider that could possibly turn the tides of the war with the Phalanx. Once the bodies fall and the space dust clears, what will be the resolution to all the conflict among the stars? Which side will win and where will it leave the combatants? According to Grillo-Marxuach, fate plays a big role in the WRAITH story, and while this chapter ends another one may be just beginning.
"There is nothing random about who Wraith is or why he has wound up in the Cosmic Universe at this time with this unique skillset. When the character was conceived and the story came together, we devised a very specific idea as to why he would be involved with the other Cosmic characters he would meet -- Ronan, Super-Skrull, Praxagora, Ra-Venn and Supremor -- so the fourth issue of Wraith is really all about bringing those destinies together, explaining why this has all happened, and ricocheting them all into conquest with a burst of super-powered action...after that, the future is scary, dangerous, and wide open!"
Will Wraith ride off into the sunset or will he be another casualty? Find out in WRAITH #4 by Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Kyle Hotz on sale October 24.