Killraven (Marvel Comics)



Killraven is an odd Marvel Comics character, who exists in a distinct timeline  from the Marvel Universe. His adventures — starting in 1973 — were very 1970s, and would have expected him to vanish into obscurity. Yet circa 2000 he started popping back, and he has appeared with surprising regularity since. Enough time has passed for elements that seemed dated now seem vintage.

Killraven is a freedom fighter existing in a post-apocalyptic future where H.G. Well’s Martian invaders have returned to Earth in 2001, this time for a successful conquest and enslavement of mankind.

I find it most fascinating that Killraven’s world will become the world of the XXXIst century Guardians of the Galaxy in the future. This means that Marvel’s big heroes were destroyed during the invasion in 2001, which has been implied in the Killraven books.


And from the Guardians of the Galaxy books we know that their past had great heroes such as Captain America that all vanished in some event, so it all fits, and explains why the Guardians continuum is so different. I wonder if the sleeping astronaut that Killraven ran into was actually Vance Astrovik, who’d move on to become a Guardian member himself in a thousand years?


  • Real Name: Jonathan Raven.
  • Other Aliases: Warrior of the Worlds, The Cosmic Rebel, K.R., Earth’s Last Hope.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Maureen Raven (mother, deceased), Joshua Raven (a.k.a. Deathraven, brother, deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: Freemen leader.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 6’1″ Weight: 185 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Red


Powers and Abilities

Killraven is a superb swordsman and hand-to-hand combatant, a master with hand weapons and shuriken. He is an experienced master strategist in guerrilla warfare. Through implanted memories, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of pre-invasion Earth. Killraven is a natural, aggressive leader. What he says goes, and his tactical choices are usually sound.

Killraven wears a costume of bulletproof fabrics and leather. He is usually armed with sword and shuriken, and rides a serpent-stallion mount.

As if this wasn’t enough, Killraven can also telepathically:

  • Observe or control Martian minds.
  • Resist psychic assaults.
  • Mask his presence from Martian scanners.

However, his telepathic abilities are very hard to control and require great discipline to initiate and focus.

War of the worlds

The Martians came out of the night skies on June 29, 2001. They came without warning, turning the summer darkness bright, blinding any view of the stars. They came with machines of destruction. It became known as the One Night War. The rest of the resistance was simply capitulation and subjugation.

By morning, weapons stockpiles across the globe had been obliterated, without a single Terran nuclear device having been fired. The Martians believed in “clean” death, one that affected victims and not environment.

They tried to kill as few humans as possible during the initial assault, since humans were considered an epicurean delight, a tasty delicacy for banquet occasions. They did not desire indiscriminate carnage. Rather they preferred their meals prepared properly, with the right seasoning.

They used some humans for other purposes. During the initial chaos that occurs as part of the process of taking over a planet and changing the status quo, they confined much of the scientific community, game them the title of Keepers, and had them perform laboratory experiments on their less fortunate brethren. Some humans were turned into hunters, with appropriate title, Exterminators, given to their function.

Conquest seemed complete.

Until years after the conquest, a rebellion began, a small force that came to be known as the Freemen. It was a groundswell movement, looking for a leader. And eventually, it found one, in Jonathan Raven, aka the Killraven. [from the Marvel Graphic Novel: Killraven – Warrior of the Worlds, 1983]


(Note: This history is based on the version of Killraven depicted in the Amazing Adventures comics series #18-39, published in the late 1970s and collected in the Essential Killraven Volume One. In the modern Marvel Multiverse this takes place on Earth-691 as opposed to Earth-2120, which is the home of the alternate Killraven of the 2003-2006 mini-series.)

A master Martian and a human scientist

Martian master, and Keeper.

The Martians that attacked Earth in the late 19th Century’s War of the Worlds launched a second invasion on June 29th, 2001. The Martians’ technology allowed them to destroy humanity’s weapons in less than 24 hours without harming the populace. In the wake of the One Night War, the hapless populace of Earth capitulated to the Martians.

In the wake of their enslavement, the human race discovered the Martians’ painstaking avoidance of casualties was not out of mercy but rather because they considered human flesh a delicacy. Most of the surviving humans were used as breeders to produce human infants for Martian consumption.

Other were used as gladiators for Martian amusement or fodder for experiments performed by the Keepers, human scientists psychically forced into Martian service.


One of those gladiators, Jonathan Raven, became known as Killraven for his prowess in the arena. Jonathan also became an experimental subject of the Keeper Whitman in hopes of curbing his rebellious tendencies.

Unbeknownst to the Martians, Keeper Whitman harbored subversive tendencies himself. Thus, he used his treatments to secretly give Killraven memories of pre-conquest human history and culture. He also endowed him with psychic abilities. All these assets would slowly manifest over time as Killraven needed them.

In 2018, Killraven escaped the arenas with Keeper Whitman’s help. Whitman was then mortally wounded by Killraven. Mr. Raven knew nothing of the nature of the Keeper’s enslavement by the Martians nor of the help Whitman had provided him. With his dying breaths, Whitman thanked Killraven for freeing him from the Martians’ domination and explained what his treatments had done for Killraven.

However, the Keeper passed away before he could tell the warrior how to access those abilities.

The Freemen

After his escape Killraven joined the Freemen resistance group. For the next two years they travelled across North America. They gathered new members and came into conflict with Martians and emotionally scarred mutant humans alike. Killraven gradually learned to access the pre-conquest memories and mental powers he had been given. These included the ability to possess Martians’ bodies.

Killraven found his brother Joshua, also known as Deathraven, during his journeys. But he was forced to kill him after discovering that he was a Martian collaborator.

Killraven brought the Martian occupation of Earth to an end in 2020 by poisoning their food supply with a disease. In at least one alternate future, he would subsequently become a member of the reformed Avengers. In another future, he led the Guardians of the Galaxy in opposing the Martians in the early XXXIst Century.


Killraven is a slender yet muscular young man with long red hair and a grim demeanor. He bears little clothing, even during winter-time, and is usually clad only in a classic gladiatorial outfit. This means blue shorts, a pair of purple high boots (sometimes accompanied by a pair of blue trousers), a golden sash or a black leather belt with pockets and a purple leather bandolier full of throwing stars around his chest.

Furthermore, Killraven wears golden armbands of bendable Martial alloy, and a blue or golden chainmail on the upper left side of his body. He usually walks around with a sword in his hand, although he does have a gun or two in holsters around his belt. Sometimes, strap on his back, can be seen a futuristic rifle or other unusual, yet powerful, weaponry.


Killraven is a grim freedom fighter. He is, in fact, something of an alpha male. He rarely laughs and is often fanatical in his pursuit of Martian destruction and human freedom. He started out with the motif of revenge against his oppressors, but has since grown into an idealist wishing freedom for all of mankind.

People say he has charisma. His speeches indeed are inspiring enough to have people follow him to the end of the world even without him telling them of the purpose of it. He dreams of the days when Earth is free, but probably also knows that he is a warrior born and will have a hard time finding his place in such a world.

He has a strong personality and some people will grow uncomfortable with his intensity and apparent lack of softness.

Killraven is always interested in getting to learn more about mankind’s eradicated culture and history. He will also take his time to listen to old stories. His own powers sometimes gives him more information about the past, which will only fuel his want of revenge further.

Also something of a natural adventurer, Killraven does enjoy new scenery. When nobody sees it he leaves his trademark text scribbled on something everywhere he goes: “Killraven was here”.

The Freemen

He is a close friend of his mud brother, M’shulla, even if they regularly banter with each other. Old Skull is an old friend that is like an overprotective big brother, but that he sometimes takes for granted. Apparently, he has agreed with Carmilla Frost, another strong personality, that they will not argue needlessly.

Nobody among the Freemen much liked Hawk or Gorm, but they still sometimes find that they miss their former comrades-in-arms. He is, in fact, grateful for his friends, the Freemen, but would never admit that if asked. He has quite fond memories of the good old days when he and M’shulla were fighting in the Gladiator Pits and life was less complicated.

DC Universe History

Killraven would probably fit best right after one of the later world wars of the DCU, and would even fit well in the reality of the “Hex” series. Or in an alternate reality where the armada of “Invasion” succeeded in conquering the Earth.


“Yes, M’shulla, I believe. I believe mankind has had his heritage stolen from him, by creatures who see him as we see cattle, of dogs, or insects. I’ve told you what I learned from the Keeper. Once this was our world. A world men had begun to become a part of. After centuries of trying to tame the Earth, we had finally learned to accept it, to live with our planet, instead of off it.
All that was torn from us when the Martians invaded and it’s that we must regain ! I’ve had enough of senseless raiding, of living from hour to hour. A man needs a goal he can fight for. Are you with me ?”

[For an instant, Killraven pauses. His life seems to rush in upon him, and he knows that it’s been for this moment that he’s lived, since he first hear the Keeper’s story. He inhales, and looks once more toward the sky.]
“One day we’ll bring the fight home to those tentacled monsters, but until that day, we’ll battle them here, on the planet they’ve despoiled. We’ll give them a struggle so great they’ll be glad to leave our lands, but we won’t let them. They began, but man will end the war of the worlds !”

“I was just looking for dinner ; a rat, a rabbit, a deer, something, anything, when I noticed a Tripod, alone. I had that reverse polarity rifle we’d just found with me, so I figured I would give it a little test run. Probably not the smartest move since we know that Martian Tripods always travel in packs of three. But I suppose I let my blood lust get the better of me.” [snipes away Tripod] “I was happy with the immediate results.”

Cruxible Guard: [Killraven is deeply contemplating and studying the thermonuclear fusion reactors of the Death-birth complex, and a Cruxible Guard sneaks up and hits Killraven hard in the back] (’thuk‘) “You’ll join your companions, intruder, inside the cauldrons. And there won’t even be any ashes left when your bodies are incinerated !”
Killraven: [Killraven turns around slowly and angrily] “Are you talking to me ?”
Cruxible Guard: “But I just hit you over the head, didn’t I ? This bar is solid titatium, isn’t it ?”
Killraven: [The blow has torn hair from the back of his head. The flesh is raw and swollen, but his eyes, surprisingly, remain clear and sharp and do not reflect the pain. His deep concentration is barely disturbed. He moves superbly, the embodiment of the cherished Superman mythology, while his mind remains on the problematic task! The Cruxible Guard knows he is in a bad way. A very bad way. Killraven runs him through and proceeds to use his ionic blade to destroy the much vaunted Death-birth complex]

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats


Dex: 08 Str: 04 Bod: 06 Motivation: Seeking Justice
Int: 07 Wil: 09 Min: 08 Occupation: Ex-Gladiator, Freedom Fighter
Inf: 07 Aur: 08 Spi: 07 Resources {or Wealth}: N/A
Init: 026 HP: 075

Iron Will: 06, Mind Probe: 07, Obscure: 06, Personality Transfer: 08, Spirit Travel: 13

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Mind Probe and Personality Transfer are only usable with Martians (-1).
  • Mind Probe and Spirit Travel and are Uncontrollable (-1) and are activated only as the GM sees fit (0) or as Minor Marginal Powers (-1).
  • Personality Transfer is a Serious Marginal Power (-2).

Acrobatics: 08, Animal Handling: 07, Martial Artist: 08, Military Science (Danger Recog, Field Command, Tracking): 07, Thief (Stealth): 09, Weaponry: 09, Vehicles (Land): 06

Expertise (The Martians), Leadership, Lightning Reflexes, Popularity (Among humans only), Scholar (pre-invasion Earth history and culture), Shtick (Weapons Stash).

Killraven’s Freemen (High).

CIA (Freeing mankind and destroying the Martians).


  • Sword [BODY 09, EV 04 (06 w/STR, 09 w/Martial Artist)].
  • Shuriken (x20) [BODY 02, EV 01 (05 as thrown by Killraven), Grenade Drawback].
  • Explosive Shurikens (x6) [BODY 02, EV 04 (Explosive Radius), Sharpness (EV): 03, Grenade Drawback].
  • GLADIATORIAL BODY ARMOR [BODY 05, Skin Armor 01, Note: Armor is Partial].

The Weapon Master and his weapons

Killraven has a reputation for being a weapons master. He is capable of expert use with any type of common and uncommon weapon (high Weaponry). Furthermore, Killraven manages to find fantastic and powerful weaponry on his journey through the land. He also somehow manages to find replacements for his mysterious shuriken-like weapons. He is in fact never empty-handed.

These effects are modeled by his Weapon Stash Shtick.

At the start of any adventure, Killraven will be fully equipped as per his Equipment Section, and should during the Subplot get the opportunity to receive further advanced weaponry by purchasing it cheaply by use of HPs. Thus, when the Adventure starts, Killraven can carry another new and nifty weapon, often of hand-to-hand or blasting variety, useable during that Adventure.

He most recently used a Reverse Polarity Rifle, which packed enough punch to bring down a Tripod in a single shot (possibly by a Critical Blow or Trick shot as Killraven knows how to hurt such machines). Another fantastic weapon that Killraven carried for a while was a very powerful weapon known only as the Ionic Blade. It had the following game stats: Ionic Blade [BODY 09, EV 12].

The ionic blade is a particularly nasty weapon. Its developer, probably some 20th Century graduate from the big city J.D. gangs, decided that a knife, though having great psychological effect on its victim, was not deadly enough. They devised a blade that sent its wound past its steel tip.

The ionic blade need only pierce the outer layer of skin to be lethal. Its energy rips outward, past and through whatever organs are in its path. Seeing as this sort of thing can get out of hand, it also has a handy regulator which lets its user decide just how deep he wants to run his victim through.

This rare weapon was sacrificed by Killraven in the destruction of the famous Martian Death-birth complex.

By Dr. Peter S Piispanen.

Source of Character: The Essential Killraven, vol. 1, Marvel Comics.

Helper(s): History section by Roy Cowan.