A high school student from Atlanta, Georgia, Kevin Ford developed his mutant powers at an unfortunate and unlucky time. Kevin's powers first came to light when he noticed that things simply began dying around him and his clothes began to decay off his body. His father, after coming home and seeing his distraught son, attempted to calm him down only to be affected as well by Kevin's mutation: he began to decay until death, leaving Kevin both an unintentional murderer and an orphan. Since his mutant powers manifested, he has considered himself cursed and an outcast and ran away from home. A talented artist, Kevin lived in a scrap yard for a while (after accidentally killing the guard dog with his touch when the dog went to bite him) and turned unwanted scrap into beautiful art. He found solace in the metal working because metal is one of the few substances he can touch without destroying it.
Danielle Moonstar, while out looking for students to bring into Xavier's institute for higher learning, came across Kevin being harassed by men in a local junkyard as they bore witness to his mutation in action. After protecting Kevin with her mutant power (thus proving their similar situations) she subsequently convinced him to enroll in the Xavier's Institute. Danielle also managed to get him some clothes and furniture made from non-organic materials so that he could function like an average student. There he met and had developed a crush on fellow mutant and classmate, Laurie Collins.
In an attack against mutants initiated by the cyborg known as Donald Pierce and a new team of Reavers (including Elixir), Laurie was stabbed through the chest, mortally wounded. Kevin lost control of his anger and lashed out at Pierce in an attempt to kill him, decaying the skin off his metallic face in the process.
Kevin’s attack was interrupted by Danielle Moonstar, who was forced to stop Kevin by revealing his worst fear, killing Laurie. Laurie was only saved when Josh Foley, one of the Reavers who had just discovered he was a mutant, healed her. To Kevin's dismay, Laurie quickly developed a crush on Josh. After the situation, Kevin had realized that he had felt comfortable using his power, which scared him into leaving the institute.
New X-Men: Academy X
A few months later, Danielle Moonstar
announced that all the mutants she had recruited would be turned into a training squad called The (New) New Mutants
with her as their team staff advisor. Despite the fact that most training squads had six members, Moonstar introduced her
squad with the rest of the squads (and also gave her advisees their super-hero names), saying that she had a sixth member in mind. This member was later revealed to be Kevin.
Danielle found Kevin back at the junkyard, with an even more impressive number of artworks. With the help of Emma Frost
, Moonstar convinced Kevin to return to the Xavier Institute and join The New Mutants. Though Kevin was still angry with Dani, Emma assured him that his place was with the rest of the mutants his age at the institute. With Kevin in place on the team as its official sixth member, Danielle formalized New Mutants Squad
and gave Kevin his superhero name: Wither.
Wither immediately clashed with Elixir
, whose golden boy persona directly opposed Wither's reclusive nature. Wither hated Elixir for two reasons: 1) he was the object of Laurie's affections and 2) Elixir was a former mutant hunting Reaver (the same people who had almost killed Wallflower
only months prior). Mercury
(the only person he could touch without killing) reached out to him, having developed a crush on him
. Wither was oblivious to Mercury's crush for the longest time and often complained to her about Elixir and professed his love for Wallflower
. Shortly after he returned to the school, he was detained by the FBI for killing his father. Though he was never actually charged or indicted, Dani (and the rest of the faculty) fought on Kevin's behalf and assured the students that Kevin would be fine.
However, the Hellions Squad, lead by the overzealous Hellion, tried to "rescue" him (Mercury using her polymorphic powers to stealthily flow through a window to let him know). The New Mutants Squad tried to stop them - fearing the consequences of involving the Institute in a fight with the FBI would not only worsen the situation Kevin was in but also the general situation with the mutant population. The X-Men intervened before the FBI discovered the student plots and ended the fight, taking them all back to the Institute. Kevin was thankfully not charged with the murder of his father. Kevin however saw the turn of events as just another betrayal by his team (having to deal with Laurie and Josh's romance, being treated like an outcast by his teammates, and Dani "turning him over to the FBI"). He and Icarus decided to exchange squads so that he could become a Hellion and Icarus could become a New Mutant.
Kevin enjoyed being a Hellion and actually trusted Emma Frost as an advisor. He quickly connected with his teammates and even vacationed with Hellion at his parents' mansion. During Kevin's time at the Institute, he discovered that his powers did not affect the White Queen's diamond form, in the process revealing that Emma Frost's diamond form is derived from inorganic carbon. His affections for Laurie never dissipated, despite his growing friendship with Mercury. When he discovered Elixir's former relationship with Wolfsbane, he tried to blackmail Elixir into ending his then relationship Wallflower. When that did not work, Wither revealed it to the school, successfully ending Josh's relationship with Laurie (which incidently prompted Laurie to become more self-confident in the use of her powers).
During the confusion of M day
, when he saw that other mutants had lost their powers, he assumed that he had lost his too and reached out to Wallflower
of them lost their powers). When he touched her arm he was devastated to see that not only had he not lost his powers, but he had just caused Wallflower's arm to 'wither'. Sadly no one was able to heal Wallflower's arm, not even Elixir, as Wither had held it for too long, there was nothing left to heal. Overcome with remorse, and after overhearing a conversation Mercury
were having regarding the incident with Wallflower, and how Hellion didn't know how to deal with him, Wither decided to flee the institute and ran to hide out in 'Mutant Town' (or what was left of it after M Day).
There he stayed with a seemingly weak, elderly woman in a run-down apartment, but this woman turned out to be Selene
(aka The Black Queen
) in disguise. In her disguise she told Kevin to embrace his power, as he was still resentful of his power after what he had done to Wallflower
. Eventually Wither did use his powers again, to kill two out of four policemen that raided the apartment to capture the old woman as she was connected to other deaths that were occurring in the region, the old woman touched the two policeman that tried to apprehend her, causing them to wither away instantly just like what happens when Wither touches someone, the other two policeman shot the old woman, which enraged Wither, forcing him to use his death touch on them. After the two remaining policemen had died, Selene
revealed herself to Wither, telling him that she would be 'his queen' if he just said yes, to which he replied 'yes'. He has recently become Selene's new apprentice and lover.
As Selene's new apprentice, Wither has been by her side ever since. But then a former apprentice, Eli Bard, returned and brought with him a key for Selene's ascension. He also saw the resurrection of Caliban and Destiny.
As Selene's plan for ascension moves, she decided to form her own inner circle. Wither was among them along with Blink
, Eli Bard
. He traveled with her and Eli Bard to Genosha
to start its resurrection. What his exact role in Selene's plan is still unknown. He has however retained his feelings for her and is very protective of both her and her plan.
Prior to the events of Necrosha, Wither was living a life of luxury with Selene but he still had feelings for Wallflower, and remained reluctant to use his powers. Selene
took him into the city and she found a young couple on a date. She told Wither to use his powers on the couple but he remains hesitant. To provoke him, Selene used her sorcery to make the couple appear as Wallflower
. Wither believed that Elixir was taunting him, reminding Wither that he had hurt Laurie and claiming that he had healed her. Driven to a rage Kevin killed the false Elixir. Afterward, Wither saw the woman for who she really was but killed her anyway, finally accepting his powers. Around this time, Whither is bitten by Kasia and he becomes a vampire, so he may live forever with his queen.
Kevin and Selene's Inner Circle were dispatched by Selene to look for the mystical Knife in Utopia
, in which Warpath
has it. During the Chaos that was going around, Wither was seen fighting his former teammate Dust
. He had difficulty in affecting her with his powers (since she is already in dust form). Onyxx
suddenly appears trying to sneak attack Wither, but he catches Onyxx and disintegrates him, leaving only his helmet behind. It appears that Selen has used her powers to transform Wither into an immortal vampire, which is shown when he transforms when fighting with Eli Brad. Later Eli Brad was Killed by
Selene, pleasing Wither. Wither was with Selene when she has finally completed her goal into becoming a goddess, and commands him and the Inner Circle to bring her more souls to absorb. When the X-Force
arrive at Necrosha (formally known as Genosha) Wither and Elixir finally get their chance at one another. Wither to try and gain the upper hand attempts to blame Elixir for the Death of Wallflower for he failed to save her. Elixir his anger burning his shade of skin changes from Gold to pure death black. It was then that he was able to overwhelms Wither and kill him by disintegration.
Powers and Abilities
Kevin mutant ability manifests as a psionic field permeating his flesh that decays, and eventually disintegrates all forms of organic matter by touch – a power which is involuntary. His touch breaks down the binding forces between organic molecules, causing organic materials to wither and reduce to a pile of dust within a matter of seconds' exposure to his skin. As such, he must wear forms of synthetic clothing, lest it be broken down. He has shown breaking down matter from cotton to human tissues (with the exception of the inorganic salts in human bones). All organic matter falls prey to his touch, while inorganic substances are are immune. As such, Mercury
and Emma Frost
(in her diamond form) are immune, while Colossus
(since he is organic
pseudo-steel) is affected.
Wither has also mentioned that his powers have an almost hunger of their own, driving him to crave touching organic matter. His power is even more difficult to deal with due to the fact that it wants
Kevin to use it. It has a "hunger", which gives Kevin a desire to use it. When he feels this "hunger" he perceives organic matter as if it were decayed.
Vampirism is activated with Kevin Kevin showing his vampire face for the first time
In X-Force #24 after getting into a heated argument with Eli Bard
, his face changes to a much more frightening form. He appears to have been turned into a vampire by Selene, in the same way that Selene turned Eli into a vampire. Whether or not he gained any additional superhuman powers (mystical or otherwise) was never shown.
Earth-58163 House of M
Wither made a brief appearance in 'The House of M: Academy X' in which he worked for S.H.I.E.L.D as an interrogator/torturer. He was able to use his powers with Elixir to create a very painful interrogation method where they would both touch the same person and cancel each other’s powers out, however this process involved apart of the torture victim to die via Wither's death touch and get brought back to life via Elixir's healing abilities before it dies completely, which is said to be a very painful experience to undergo.
They used this technique to try and acquire information from a human terrorist who earlier that day was a part of a group of human terrorists who tried to blow up the New Mutants Institute by strapping bombs to their bodies and blowing themselves up when they got close enough to the mutants and their institute. The suicide bombers were foiled by the Hellions who also worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. Surge saw the torture in process and put an end to it, when Wither tried to stop Surge by touching her while Elixir was already forcing blood to go into her lungs with his powers, Surge was able to electrocute Wither. He did not die, but he was knocked out by the attack, for an undisclosed amount of time.
X-Men: The End
Wither saves Dani Moonstar from a Warskrull posing as Genesis. After he kills the Warskrull he hopes Dani can forgive him for using his powers to kill.