Doctor Judas Traveller was a world-renowned criminal psychologist and philosopher. His research on the criminal mind was both foundation-building and groundbreaking at the same time, and Doctor Ashley Kafka of the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane cited his work as the basis for her own. Traveller was also a troubled man, however, and suffered a form of psychotic break while doing his research in seclusion from the public eye. This nervous breakdown coincided with the development of his own mutant abilities to access innermost thoughts and alter perceptual reality. Caught up in altering his own perceptions, Traveller crafted a delusion where he was a centuries-old being, compelled by a higher power to uncover the true nature of good and evil in mankind.
Traveller came to the attention of Norman Osborn, living in seclusion himself at this time after his apparent death fighting Spider-Man years before. Osborn had long term plans in play to torture and manipulate Peter Parker and his alter ego, and he saw Traveller as a remarkable potential asset to be exploited. Osborn had assumed control of the Brotherhood of Scrier, a European criminal organization and cult who worshipped a mythical being. With the assistance of Osborn and his technologist partner Mendel Stromm, now known as Gaunt, the Brotherhood used technology to make it appear as if they possessed supernatural powers. Only one member of the Brotherhood appeared in public at once, creating the mystique of a single individual named Scrier with exceptional powers.
At Osborn’s behest, a Scrier made contact with Judas Traveller and befriended him. Through subtle psychological intervention, Scrier integrated himself into Traveller’s delusions, convincing the man Scrier was his servant, and they had been friends and traveling companions for centuries. Through Scrier’s backing, Traveller had access to advanced technology which supplemented his mutant powers of influence and illusion casting. He could now achieve effects in reality which further supported his delusions of being a god-like being. Traveller and Scrier also assembled the Host, a quartet of acolytes including Medea the warrior, Boone the tracker, Mr. Nacht the chronicler and Chakra the medium. Traveller believed this entourage was loyal to him and his quest to understand the true nature of good and evil, but they were secretly in Scrier’s employ, watching Traveller, subtly reinforcing his delusion and guiding him as their true master wanted. [Spider-Man: The Osborn Journal #1, Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #417]
On behalf of Norman Osborn, Scrier directed Traveller into accepting an invitation from Doctor Kafka to give his input on the facility and patients at Ravencroft. Traveller believed studying the minds of clinically insane super-criminals would give him greater insight into the nature of good and evil. By passing through the halls of Ravencroft, he encountered the likes of Chameleon, Shriek and Carnage. With each mind he scanned, Judas found a reoccurring theme: Spider-Man. Just as Osborn intended, Traveller became intrigued by Spider-Man as a test subject and incorporated him into his plans for Ravencroft. Traveller and the Host assumed control of the asylum, teleporting out Ashley Kafka, John Jameson and the rest of the staff. Once Ravencroft was sealed off behind an insurmountable energy field, Judas sent Chakra out to make contact with Spider-Man in her astral form. She told Spider-Man that Traveller had control over Ravencroft and intended to kill all the patients and inmates unless Parker stopped him. However, if Traveller were defeated, the inmates would be released upon the world. [Web of Spider-Man (1st series) #117]
Peter Parker was NOT in a good place mentally when this incident began. His parents, supposedly alive again after decades’ absence, were revealed as robotic simuloids created by the Chameleon. While pursuing his vendetta against Chameleon, Spider-Man learned the whole plot had been orchestrated beyond the grave by his late friend and enemy, Harry Osborn, the second Green Goblin. Atop these betrayals, his beloved Aunt May was in the hospital, on the verge on death. All this had caused him to retreat into his identity as “the Spider,” rejecting the man beneath the mask. And, just that morning, he learned the Jackal’s clone of Peter Parker survived his apparent death five years ago, leaving Spider-Man literally and physically confronting the face of Peter Parker whose pain he was trying to run from. All this accumulated psychological torment was pulled to the surface of his mind by Traveller as Spider-Man was guided by the nose through Ravencroft. Peter Parker collapsed temporarily into madness thanks to this probing, but not before Traveller pulled the existence of the clone from his mind. [Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #394]
Curious about this new variable, Traveller sent Chakra out again, this time contacting the clone “Ben Reilly.” She offered him a similar dilemma: let Traveller kill Peter Parker at Ravencroft, and claim the life that could be his, or risk his own safety to rescue his mirror-brother. Reilly accepted the invitation, and so Traveller sent out Boone and Medea to entertain him while Judas telepathically monitored Parker and guided him through the other side of his personal breakdown. Spider-Man shook off Traveller’s mental intervention just as Ben Reilly fought his way through the Host, and the two spider-heroes faced Traveller together. [Spider-Man (1st series) #51]
Traveller’s mental powers were still too much for Parker and Reilly to handle, and he quickly rendered them unconscious with a psychic command. Once they awakened, Peter and Ben found themselves confronted with a deranged horde of escaped inmates. Traveller had released them as he promised, though they were still contained behind the energy barrier outside. Spider-Man and his clone fought side-by-side, subtly forging a bond between the two as Traveller’s agent Mister Nacht monitored them from the shadows. They even fought together against Carnage and won (although some elements indicated this may have been part of Traveller’s illusions). Satisfied for the moment, Traveller and the Host prepared to depart, expanding his energy barrier before it dispersed in order to knock out the police and Ravencroft employees still gathered outside the building. Peter and Ben emerged, but Traveller’s powers allowed him and the Host to escape without incident. In the chaos, Judas left behind a letter postmarked a week earlier, misleading Doctor Kafka and the authorities into believing the REAL Judas Traveller rejected her invitation and the man who invaded the asylum had been an imposter. [Spectacular Spider-Man (2nd series) #217]
Traveller and his Host remained in New York to continue his studies of Spider-Man and the clone, who soon began calling himself the Scarlet Spider and fighting crime independently. Mister Nacht monitored the Parkers in the days leading up to May Parker’s passing, and Traveller considered this data in his plans to proceed. [Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #400] Peter Parker was arrested for a murder that happened years ago in Utah, a complicated matter set in motion by plots other than Traveller’s. Still, he took the opportunity to make contact with Mary Jane Watson-Parker, recently pregnant and overwhelmed by the current circumstances of her life. Traveller probed her mind to learn about the baby, but was interrupted by the Scarlet Spider, who was feeling protective of Peter’s family. Despite causing an entire street to erupt in explosions (or at least appear to), Judas failed to deter the Spider from getting between him and Mary Jane. Traveller departed, intent on fulfilling his evaluations another time. [Spider-Man (1st series) #57]
The real murderer was Kaine, a disfigured early clone of Peter Parker created by the Jackal. His fingerprints connected Parker to the murder in Utah, as he was old rivals with Ben Reilly and was trying to frame the other clone at the time. Now his visions of future peril led him to seek out and protect Mary Jane, by any means necessary. Traveller sent Chakra to Parker in prison, taunting him with knowledge of his wife’s danger. Peter chose to escape from prison, risking his freedom if it meant saving his wife. Traveller confronted him outside the prison and told Parker an illusion would hide his disappearance from the prison guards until sun up. When asked why he was helping him, Traveller continued to treat Peter like a science experiment and remarked he was simply curious to see what he would do. [Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #401] Privately, however, Traveller confided in Scrier that Peter Parker’s sense of responsibility continued to fascinate him. After Peter and Ben saved MJ and saw off Kaine, Ben offered to take Peter’s place in prison for the moment, taking responsibility for Kaine’s vendetta against him and giving Peter time with his pregnant wife until they proved his/their innocence. As Ben Reilly arrived at the prison, Traveller told Scrier this was one of the expected outcomes of his intervention. [Spectacular Spider-Man (2nd series) #224]
Peter took to wearing the Scarlet Spider costume while out of prison, and he soon encountered Judas Traveller again. Traveller chose to provoke Parker further than ever before, testing the limits of his good nature and sense of responsibility. He openly wondered whether the evil of the super-villains in Ravencroft was balanced by Spider-Man’s good, or if his very presence provoked them to worse atrocities than if he had never gotten involved? Traveller humbled Parker physically this time before tempting him. Judas claimed to have caught the soul of May Parker as it left this plane of existence. He said it was possible to bring Aunt May back with the sacrifice of another soul and left the decision in Parker’s hands. With but a moment’s consideration, Peter shattered the soul globe and released May, refusing to barter for her soul with Traveller. [Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #402]
As their encounter continued, Traveller next brought Peter Parker 24 hours into the future, showing him a New York City shattered with devastation which Traveller claimed was Parker’s fault. Judas allowed Spider-Man to explore the wrecked future just long enough to see that Mary Jane and their building survived the destruction before bringing him back to the present. Traveller’s challenge was that the Host were sabotaging a geothermal heating station on the East River, intent on creating the wasteland seen in the vision of the future. Traveller offered to remain at Peter’s brownstone, protecting it and his family from the catastrophe that followed. Peter could remain at the brownstone, safe and protected with his family, or risk his own life trying to stop the future they had foreseen.
Spider-Man inevitably left for the heating station, and Scrier privately met with Judas to warn him he was tampering with forces that might be beyond his control. Traveller aggressively rebuked his “servant” this time, warning Scrier not to consider them equals. Scrier affirmed that he did not. Spider-Man defeated the Host, but it turned out the destruction they saw actually came from a transpatial time vortex, the after effect of Judas’s manipulation of the space-time continuum. The hungry rift attempted to swallow Traveller, and Scrier explained to Spider-Man that Judas would soon be wiped from time itself, and the resulting explosion would destroy the city. The centuries of Judas’s travels erupted from the rift around him, all the darkness he had observed and studied in his long life. Once again, Spider-Man risked his own life even for those who meant him harm. He made contact with Traveller in the vortex, momentarily absorbing the weight and agony of Traveller’s memories before pulling him to safety as the rift closed harmlessly without him. Scrier took the unconscious Traveller to recover but warned Spider-Man that the taste of Traveller’s memories meant he now understood the man better than anyone, and Judas would not rest until he understood Spider-Man just as intimately. [Spider-Man (1st series) #59]
[Note: The above saga is the hardest to reconcile with the revelations about Traveller’s powers. Presumably all instances of time travel and time vortexes were fakery, even if Traveller himself might have been convinced it was all real.]
As Spider-Man attempted to bring Kaine to justice before Ben was convicted for his crimes, Traveller made his final move against Peter Parker. [Web of Spider-Man (1st series) #126] Judas teleported Peter and Kaine from Manhattan to Ravencroft, which he had taken over once more. Traveller intended to resolve once and for all whether Spider-Man was a force for good or evil by putting his existence on trial before the inmates of the asylum. Ashley Kafka and John Jameson were forced to watch the mock trial as Kaine was named as Spider-Man’s defense attorney while the insane serial killer Carnage acted as the prosecution. Traveller’s mental abilities and supposed raw power kept the various players in line and forced to carry out his staged performance. Kaine’s hatred of Reilly did not transfer over to Peter. At the time, Kaine believed Ben Reilly was the original and Peter was the other clone. Deranged and scarred by clone degeneration, Kaine projected his desire for a normal life onto his “clone brother” and wanted Peter to achieve happiness. As a result, he went along with Traveller’s mock trial to save Peter’s life, if at all possible.
Judas Traveller tried to suggest that Spider-Man was responsible for the villains who hated him and argued whether his death would restore their sanity by denying their hatred its focus. Carnage charged Spider-Man with the responsibility for bringing the first Venom symbiote to Earth, inevitably leading to the spawning of Carnage’s symbiote and everything he was responsible for. Traveller also revealed Peter Parker’s identity to all the villains present, allowing further arguments like Malcolm McBride only becoming the villain Carrion because he was jealous of Peter as a graduate student. Kaine resolutely stood beside Spider-Man during the proceedings, and even fought to protect the helplessly restrained Peter after the “jury” sentenced him to death. In the end, Traveller returned the inmates to their cells and wiped their memories of the proceedings. Traveller declared himself satisfied that Parker was truly a force for good, as even a corrupt soul like Kaine was willing to sacrifice himself on Peter’s behalf. Traveller returned Peter and Kaine to Manhattan, moving on to further studies. [Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #403]
Months later, Judas Traveller and the Host resurfaced. By this time, Ben and Peter had learned the “truth” that Ben was the original Peter Parker. Ben reclaimed the role of Spider-Man while Peter retired to support Mary Jane and their upcoming baby. Chakra, the only member of the Host truly loyal to Traveller, uncovered Scrier’s private dealings with Gaunt and alerted the deluded Traveller to his partner’s duplicity for the first time. Unfortunately, the other members of the Host were loyal to Scrier, and Traveller was betrayed and captured by his own followers. He was entombed in a sensory deprivation chamber at the bottom of a pool in the hopes of containing him until Norman Osborn and his loyalists could find a way to make him useful to their cause once more.
Traveller called out telepathically, reaching the subconscious of Ben and Peter to warn them of his predicament. Chakra also remained free and on the run from the rest of the Host. She sought out the Spiders through Ravencroft and explained Judas’ situation. Spider-Man agreed to go with her and rescue Traveller, learning for the first time how limited Traveller’s powers truly were. The Host defended their prize alongside the Brotherhood of Scrier, who emerged in force for the first time in years. However, Traveller was released from his imprisonment, and a psychic maelstrom scattered their foes for the moment. Traveller and Chakra escaped, but Judas left the Spider-Man brothers with a final vague warning about the forces behind Scrier. [Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #416-417]
Traveller retreated from the public eye for years after that, working to get control of his mind again and overcome his own delusions of godhood. When the mutant nation of Krakoa declared themselves to the world, however, Judas took notice. Some of Krakoa's propaganda came with a declaration that they were the new gods of the world. As a mutant himself who once claimed to be a deity (or near enough), Traveller took exception to that. Krakoa's demonstration of hubris was dangerous enough to Judas's eyes for him to stand against his own people. He made contact with Doctor Killian Devo of Orchis and offered his services in opposition of Krakoa.
Traveller became Director for the Orchis petal overseeing Culture & Narrative. His skills as a psychologist and understanding of the nature of truth and illusion were used for a media spin campaign. Orchis acquired a controlling interest in the Fact Channel and other media outlets, allowing them to present the mutant threat to the world through controlled messaging. [X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #45] Traveller's petal constantly monitors mutant activity in order to craft a message spun in favor of Orchis and their goals. [Marauders (2nd series) #6] In addition, Traveller oversaw the buyout of shell companies like the Heritage Initiative to make other moves on Orchis's behalf. For instance, by manipulating the Department of the Interior, they attempted to claim the X-Gene found in the native population of reservations as government property. It was their hope to harvest X-Genes for exploitation by Heritage and Orchis. This initial maneuver was stopped by Thunderbird, but freeing his people from the local police station only fed the narrative which Judas Traveller was crafting in the media. [Giant-Size X-Men: Thunderbird #1]