February 26, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters File #303: Judas Traveller

The Clone Saga had a villain so mysterious, even his creators didn't know what his deal was.

Are there any Spider-Man stories as universally hated as the original Clone Saga?  OK, Maximum Carnage was pretty meh.  And no true Spider-Man fan probably likes “One More Day”.  But the Clone Saga!  No one liked that thing!

Judas Traveller came out of that one.

Who or what was Judas Traveller?  Good question!  Nobody knows!

Seriously, the creators at the time working on the Clone Saga had this mysterious character named Judas Traveller.  He had a lot of vaguely defined powers, an associate named Scrier, and four underlings who appeared on sporadically.

Pictured: sporadically appearing underlings.

Traveller would show up in various Clone Saga stories to challenge Peter Parker and Ben Reilly either as a team or adversaries, supposedly in an effort so famed criminal investigator or psychologist or whatever he was Judas Traveller could understand the nature of evil.  That, on the surface, seems to be a fairly simple concept.  But this was the Clone Saga, and the whole point of the Clone Saga seemed to have been taking whatever was going on, dragging it out as long as possible, making everything more complicated instead of less, and then ending it way past its expiration date with some bit about how Ben Reilly, the suspected clone, was the real Peter Parker the whole time.  Ben went from Scarlet Spider to Spider-Man and Peter would go off to retire somewhere with Mary Jane.

As such, Judas Traveller’s backstory never quite came out, and there was a good reason for that:  no one working on the various Spider-Man books knew what it was.  He was being used as an all-purpose deus ex machina who did whatever the story required of him.  Was there a point to him?  Literally no one knew!

“I am a mysterious figure meant to bedevil you, whichever Spider-Person you are!”

So, no one liked the Clone Saga.  Well, maybe a few people, but I don’t know of any.  Ask Jimmy Impossible.  If anyone can discover any such impossible Spidey-lore, it’s him.  It’s in his name.  He sort of has to.

Now, did anything come of this?  I mean, Ben Reilly was eventually outed as the real clone and even died when Peter came back because, well, I guess fans (like me) felt kinda upset that the Spider-Man they had been reading about for years wasn’t really Spider-Man.  Or he was and he wasn’t.  Look, the Clone Saga was a mess, so the only way to fix it was to make a potentially bigger mess and bring back Norman Osborn, a character who, at the time, had been dead longer than I had been alive.

Yes, it turns out Norman was behind the whole thing!  Ben was always the clone!  And Judas Traveller was just a criminal psychologist who had a mental breakdown, causing some latent mutant powers to kick in.  He apparently could alter people’s mental perceptions and he was nowhere near as powerful as he appeared to be.  The Scrier guy betrayed him, but after his life was saved by Ben and a love interest, he more or less disappeared.

That’s probably for the best.  A character should never be so mysterious even his creators don’t know who he is or why he does what he does.