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By Thomas Wheeler

One of the sad effects in certain action figure lines over the years, including G.I.Joe, is that if certain light colors of plastic are molded with somewhat contaminated water, and/or exposed to strong sunlight over a long period of time, those plastics will discolor, taking on an unpleasant yellowish tinge. The severity of this discoloration is variable, but also, to the best of my knowledge, irreversible (although if someone knows of an effective method - e-mail me!)

My very first 1984 Storm Shadow, the popular Cobra Ninja all dressed in white, suffered this malady to a very extreme degree. He didn't just turn yellow. He turned tan! I couldn't find it in my heart to throw him out. Storm Shadow is one of my favorites, as he is the favorite of may G.I.Joe fans. But neither did he make an especially anymore. What was I to do?

Time to break out the customization tools, and give him a new identity! Obviously, he'd have to remain a ninja. There was no getting around the costume. But I wanted a ninja with maybe some additional skills. Someone who could give both Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes a run for their money, and who was just as big a mystery.

I decided to create a ninja mercenary, and name him "Wraith". In fairness, this was years before Devil's Due created a high-tech mercenary of the same name for the G.I.Joe comic book. I certainly have no wish to step on their toes, and they, obviously, had no way of knowing about my custom figure.

I didn't want Wraith to look like any previous version of Storm Shadow. By this time, the molds had seen use both as Storm Shadow and as the Ninja-Viper, and the Storm Shadow character had seen several incarnations with different molds. I also wanted Wraith to be able to operate in any environment. So I decided to do with a very unusual camouflage pattern to his uniform.

I painted the entire uniform in olive-drab green. This was a color that both ninjas and non-Joes tended to avoid, so he'd be fairly distinctive. I painted the main highlights of the uniform -- the wristbands, belt, and shoulder strap, brown, just a very straight brown right out of the jar. I dislike mixing colors, so I avoid it when I can. Since this was a character of my own creation, I'd color him however I darn well pleased. I painted the shoulder strap buckle, knife hilt, and throwing stars silver, and then went in with the camouflage pattern/

My intent was to combine "forest" camo with "urban" camo. To that end, the camouflage over the olive green was grey and black -- urban colors. The grey would be the more traditional "swirled" pattern, whereas the black would be the more "squared off" urban pattern. Granted, he guy's a ninja, so one must assume he's expert at avoiding detection in the first place, and I have no idea how a camouflage pattern like this would work in real life (and these days they're all computer designed anyway), but I thought the end result looked cool.

Of course, he needed a file card. And I decided to make him an independent agent, and a troublemaker:


WRAITH Ninja/Mercenary

No one's sure who Wraith is or where he comes from. Is he some rogue agent from the Arashikage Clan, that also produced Snake-Eyes, Storm Shadow, Jinx, and others? Questioning of these agents by their respective commanders has yielded no answers. They refuse to discuss this mystery ninja, saying only that some matters must be kept private, whatever the cost. What is known about Wraith comes from observation. He is highly skilled with both ancient and modern weapons, is clearly an expert in multiple martial arts, and is quite possibly as dangerous an opponent as either Storm Shadow or even Snake-Eyes. What's NOT known is who he's working for. He's stirred up trouble for both G.I.Joe and Cobra, and has been known to appear in the midst of battle and cause grief for both sides, before fading into the smoke and chaos that he has manufactured. As such time as he's ever captured, regardless of who catches up to him first, he'll have a lot of explaining to do. But for now, that seems to be a mighty big "if"...

From General Hawk's Files: "You'd think in this day and age it would be possible to track down just about anybody. But we don't have a clue as to who this guy really is, and as far as we can tell, neither does Cobra. 'Wraith' is just the name that Snake-Eyes gave is for him, but he won't tell us any more than that..."