and Dr. Peter Coogan
PART ONE: LUTHOR BY NATURE BUT NOT BY NAME
(Believed to be a picture of Odd John Wainwright under a different name)
divided his time between his two families the Wainwrights and the Luthors, but
the Luthor branch always felt like they got the short end of the stick. As Dr.
Thomas Wainwright. Paul Finglemore would leave his family to do
missionary/charity work once a quarter, traveling around
However John was not raised by either Paul and Margot or Paul and Sally but rather by Thomas Wainwright and his wife "Pax,” a situation that arose from a rather complicated set of circumstances.
In 1909 a Lord Wainwright died. He left his fortune to his only living descendent, one Thomas Wainwright. However the Lord Wainwright was uncertain who his heir was and provided his executors of the will with a few possibilities.
As Thomas Wainwright, Paul
Finglemore was contacted and asked to come to
Another possible claimant
to the fortune was a medical doctor named Dr. Thomas Wainwright, who had no
intention of pursuing a false claim. Despite his charm and guile, Paul
Finglemore was unable to convince the executors that his claim was valid,
especially when another, more valid claimant showed up, a Dr. Thomas Wayne from
As Margot was too close to
delivery to travel back across the ocean, Dr. Thomas Wainwright graciously
offered to put up his "cousin" and his wife up until after the baby
was born. Paul was getting very nervous about being in
Seeing Margot’s advanced
condition—she was in her eleventh month of pregnancy—Dr. Thomas Wainwright
insisted on taking her to the hospital, where a maternity team decided to force
the delivery of the baby. The baby was deformed and not expected to live. Paul
Finglemore and Margot regretfully left the apparently dying baby and went into
hiding, seeking the opportunity to once again flee to
Dr. Thomas Wainwright and his wife raised the deformed infant, who defied the odds and lived. They named him John.
Thomas Wainwright and his wife had two previous children, Anne and
Thomas. Thomas became an engineer of some note. Anne Wainwright married a
young physicist named Brian Javier and moved to
Jonathan Wainwright was born an atavistic mutant. He had a gestation period of eleven months, which might have been longer had the doctors not insisted upon removing the unborn child from his mother’s womb. He had the appearance of a seven-month fetus upon his forced birth and had to be kept alive in an incubator for his first year. Many of his early lung and cardiac problems were later discovered to have been self-induced as the infant was learning to control his involuntary biological processes. He did not open his eyes until his eighteenth month. When he did finally open them, they were a key to just how different John was from normal humanity. There was only a hint of green color around his giant black pupils. He learned to talk at four years of age, his speech evolving from phrases of broken English to adult conversation in mere days. Before he could walk or read he learned mathematics, after which he learned to read in a day by analyzing the sounds made when his sister read him a book. At the age of six John finally learned to walk, and having done so devoted a great deal of time to strengthening his under developed muscles. His self-training included fighting every boy in the neighborhood and winning through superior speed and skill.
At the age of six he was also finally able to eat solid food, his digestive system previously having trouble with anything but liquids.
John was home-schooled by his mother since he was too disturbing for the other children at school, which suited John since at home he could pursue whatever subject took his fancy. In his late childhood John's interests turned to biology, philosophy, and burglary. Like his biological father before him and his biological brothers, despite having received moral guidance, at heart the only morality John understood was one guided by his own desires. Despite his odd looks, John had a sort of hideous charm, a kind of animal magnetism that attracted as well as repelled. He was able to charm most people in his circle and succeeded in making his adopted father's best friend wholly his creature, to such an extent that Odd John called him Fido, treating him like a favored dog and receiving little objection from him for do so. Despite the appearance given in Odd John that the account was Fidos first-person narrative, in general Fido wrote down and edited what John told him.
As a means of getting money for his experiments and studies, John burglarized homes. Although his account claimed he did not take anything, this was not actually true. He didn’t take anything from his neighbors when he was just experimenting, but then he performed several real robberies and found a purser of a foreign-going ship to act as a fence. He committed his burglaries over a number of months. While it is true he used the opportunity to intimately observe how normal people lived, he also had a mercenary motive. His career in burglary also led to his first murder. A constable he was acquainted with saw him drop from a drainpipe attached to a house he had just robbed. Rather than go through the rigmarole of explanation and subsequent exposure, John stabbed the constable in the heart with a scout knife. He felt little remorse at the act.
After the murder, John looked for a less risky means of obtaining wealth. Like his brother Alexander and his half-brothers Alexander, Lawrence, David, and William, John was an inventive genius. He spent the next year getting patents for hundreds of small useful items. With Fido's help, he invested in the financial markets and cleaned up tidily. During his fourteenth year while he was involved in finance, John also explored his sexuality. John used his oddly attractive/repellent charm to seduce a number of women. He also explored bisexuality, seducing a number of his friends who seem to not have been by nature bisexual but somehow traveled this path with John. Although not directly stated in Odd John, it seems likely that Fido was one of John's conquests,. John may have accomplished his seductions by his awakening telepathic powers or by some odd pheromones that mutants of his type exuded.
In Odd John Fido hints that during this period John had sexual relations with Pax. John did so after a failed affair with a young woman named Europa, with whom he could not consummate the love act, rejecting her as a human being would a dog or a monkey (ch. 8). He then sought intimate refuge with a being “who also loved him deeply, and would go to any lengths for his sake” in order also to “assert his moral independence of Homo sapiens” and to do so by breaking “what was one of the most cherished of all the taboos of that species” (p. 53, ch. 8). John engaged in sex with Pax for the motives Fido states, but he made sure that Fido included mention of the incident in Odd John for completely different motives. In recounting the incident, Fido mentions that at the time John told him of his incest he did not regard John’s behavior as vile but only as flagrantly unconventional due to his being so deeply entranced by John’s personality. (In truth it was not incest and John knew it not to be so. John remembered his own birth and knew that Pax was not his mother, but Fido never learned this fact).
It would have been easy for John to arrange matters so that Fido did not include mention of this incident in the manuscript for Odd John, but he did not. John wanted readers to respond to his incest; he wanted his readers to mentally connect his behavior with Nietzsche’s Übermensch, who operates in a sphere beyond conventional morality. By showing that he had moved beyond ordinary conceptions of good and evil, John wanted to establish an idea about Homo superior in the minds of readers, of which the story of his incest was merely the first part. Here John established that Homo superior followed in the footsteps of Nietzsche’s Übermensch and was thus a threat to bourgeois morality and society. Physically and mentally superior but freed of the constraints of morality, the Homo superior would seem a threat to the continued existence of Homo sapiens, as John demonstrated later by causing the indigenous population of an island to kill themselves in order to clear the way for his Colony. But Odd John ends with the Colonists committing suicide rather than taking up arms against the Great Powers and wholly rejecting violence in favor of spiritual exploration, even at the cost of their lives. Thus, this incident of purported incest helps John to establish the idea that powerful mutanity, if left alone, would be harmless to humankind because it would advance from apparent amorality to a pacifistic spirituality beyond the ken of humanity.
From the age of fourteen to seventeen John studied humanity. Adopting a variety of guises, he explored all walks of life from the working class to academia. He demonstrated a talent for mimicry that would have made John Clay proud, had he known of it. His studies of humanity coalesced his feelings of alienation that had had felt from earliest childhood. He had always felt himself to be Homo superior, and his detailed survey of humanity confirmed his theory, at least to his own satisfaction.
John went on a sabbatical to the woods for a period of self-exploration. During this time his telepathic powers grew and he was able to feel the mental resonance of persons like himself. He discovered that there were a few individuals like him worldwide. Their subspecies had existed for perhaps thousands of years.
The oldest one of whom John found was Adlan, 419 years old in 1931.
Another mutant whom John located was Jacqueline Castagnet, born in 1765. She was Odd John's maternal ancestor. Jacqueline had the appearance of a woman in her thirties.
referred to his "race" having derived from a singular family in
How do we know this?
Firstly they were atavistic, showing up almost at random in widely scattered areas and inconsistently throughout history.
The most successful mutant in Odd John was Adlan, who was over three hundred years old. He had John's mental powers, but did not have his physical ailments and looked fully human, except for extra large eyes. Yet in three hundred years since Adlan’s birth only a small scattering of the same type of mutant had appeared, and most of those had physical infirmities that in a less-nurturing environment would have been counter to survival. This is hardly the explosion of a new and superior species.
While it is true that some Oddian mutants do possess a form of longevity, it also takes decades for them to mature. Many stayed in physically infantile states for years and many had an intolerance to the normal foods that growing children thrive upon. This is not a good survival trait outside of a very nurturing environment.
Oddian mutants typically seem to have physical infirmities or deformities. These physical disabilities or deformities seem to preclude true physical evolution towards adaptation to the environment since the disabled mutants are dependent on "lesser" human beings for survival.
These mutants also possess great intellects and all seem to have the gift of telepathy. Yet we also wonder if this gift of telepathy is coupled with psychosis, at least as it apparently was in the case of John and a few of the others.
From the account that John gave to Fido, it seems clear that he was psychotic or a sociopath. It is unknown whether this madness is related to his mental abilities or if these are two different brain functions. Some neurologists/psychiatrists such as Dr. James Caliban or Niles Crane who have studied the Oddian mutants (without having an actual body to examine), believe that a brain malformation that causes brain dysfunctions such as delusions of grandeur also gives an individual telepathic ability. It could also be that John's madness arose from a chemical imbalance. Some psychologists, such as Dr. Robert Hartley, believe that John's insanity originates from psychological dysfunction due to his mental abilities outstripping his physical form, or the feeling of alienation that he succumbed to because of his physical appearance. 
John's belief that he was a member of a superior species despite physical evidence to the contrary is a sign of madness. Even if he had been completely normal in appearance, the minute number of mutants like himself that he was able to find should have belied the idea that they were the next stage of human evolution. The feeling of being superior and that other human beings were so inferior as to be animals to be used by John and people like him is another sign of a sociopathic personality. Another sign is his lack of remorse over his heinous acts, as when he killed the police officer who discovered him burglarizing a home.
He also had very little compunction about using his innate telepathic powers to charm and seduce people who were repulsed by his features; he enjoyed the seduction and thrilled at their repugnance of him while holding them in thrall. In this he was little different from his sociopathic brother Henry King or intellectually different from his brother Alexander Wainwright Luthor.
After successfully contacting others of his kind, John believed it was time for them to come together and form a colony that would be the start of a new world to be dominated by the Homo superior. John's belief that he and his fellow mutants represented Homo superior, a new evolution of humanity, a superior race, is in reality quite pathetic. It is a psychological reversal of reality to help John and his fellow mutants gain a sense of self-worth by claiming superiority. Rather than face the grim fact that out of a population of millions they were genetic anomalies—sports of evolution that without special attention would have perished—John persisted in the belief that they were a new species that would eventually dominate all of mankind.
The mutants who chose to join John in his idea of a colony away from ordinary humanity also shared these beliefs or else John's charming powers were so vast that they were unconsciously influenced by him.
From the outset they deliberately set themselves apart from common humanity. While gathering members of for the colony, John and his companions traveled in a yacht.
On one occasion John's yacht encountered the British steamship Frome. It was foundering in a storm. The passengers and crew took to lifeboats. John and his fellow mutants attempted to rescue the two boats by taking them in tow. One of the lifeboats was flung to the deck of the yacht by a giant swell and all but two of the life boat's passengers were thrown into the sea. The other two remained aboard the yacht as John's guests. The remaining lifeboat was kept in tow. When the sailors insisted on lauding their act of bravery, John and his fellow mutants became concerned.
This would have been very inconvenient for them, as John told Fido. Here were three eccentric children and a black baby cruising about the ocean in most eccentric craft driven by some unintelligible source of power. After discussing the situation telepathically, they agreed that drastic action was necessary. John produced an automatic pistol and shot the men whom they had rescued. The tow rope to the other boat was untied and the mutants disposed of the other people in the lifeboat with rifles. The corpses were thrown to the sharks, and the life boat was scrubbed clean of blood and scuttled.
When even Fido was revolted by this act, John explained it very simply. "But just as you kill wolves and tigers so that the far brighter spirits of men might flourish, so we killed those unfortunate creatures that we had rescued. Innocent as they were, they were dangerous. Unwittingly they threatened the noblest practical venture that has yet occurred on this planet.” In a chilling statement that demonstrates his total alienation from humanity he follows up by saying "Well, if we could wipe out your whole species, frankly, we would. For if your species discovers us, and realizes at all what we are, it will certainly destroy us. And we know, you must remember, that Homo Sapiens has little to contribute of the music of this planet, nothing in fact but vain repetition. It is time for finer instruments to take up the theme" (Chapter 18).
Later when it came time to establish the Colony, they chose an inhabited island.
"They were simple and attractive creatures, said John, "but, of course, we could not them to interfere with our plans. It might have been possible to obliterate from their minds every recollection of the island, and of ourselves and then transport them. . . .Our technique of oblivifaction was still unreliable. Moreover, where would we have deposited the natives without rousing protests, and curiosity? We might have kept them alive on the island, as domestic animals, but this would have wrecked out plans. It would also have undermined the natives spiritually. So we decided to destroy them” (Chapter 18).
The mutants induced the islands natives to commit suicide by collectively climbing on a burning pyre as a sacrifice to their gods.
The Colony that John established was very small, and while the colonists were highly intelligent they exhibited behavior that was not conducive to building a secure state or a stable society. While it is true that they could combine their consciousness in a sort of gestalt, individually they did not gel. They were sexually promiscuous but this did not result in any progeny, giving us some indication that John's people were not very fertile. If this was the case, then this low fertility rate should be seen as further proof that they were anomalies rather than a replacement species. They also seemed to engage in bisexual relationships, which would tend to diminish male/female procreation. It is not certain whether bisexuality was a trait innate to this mutant population or if it stemmed from John and was projected onto the mindset of the rest of the Colony.
one of the first mutants John discovered. He had taken her to
While the Colonists were on the island, they purportedly trained themselves mentally. They did this by communicating distantly with a Tibetan shaman who was another of their particular mutant off shoot but who had refused to join the Colony. They did achieve some control over their psionic powers, but it does not seem that they had advanced very much spiritually, despite the contrary report in Fido’s record.
In Odd John Fido reports that the Colonists devoted their remaining time to saluting “That in the universe which was of supreme excellence” and to “offer[ing] to the universal Spirit such a bright and peculiar jewel of worship” as had never been offered before (ch. 21). Fido reported this spiritual awakening from first-hand observation. John had requested that he visit the island to write a history of the Colony that some record of it might survive its expected destruction. Fido came at his master’s bidding. While he did make observations, his record is filled with instances of being baffled by and left out of the true activity of the Colonists. Their communication often occurred on a telepathic level, and their strange communal ritual—which on the surface appears as active as a meeting of Quakers waiting for the Holy Spirit to come among them—confused and repelled him.
The alienation Fido felt at observing the Colonists’ “worship” is a clue to the perversity of their practice. It is a commonplace that transcendent spirituality has a universal appeal; one need not be a practitioner of a religion to appreciate the sacred nature of its services. But the Colonists’ worship had the opposite effect upon Fido, and this effect draws its sacral nature into doubt. And yet, despite being repelled, Fido reports these services as an advanced from of spirituality—an “exalted corporate activity”—one beyond his capacity to understand. Reading Odd John gives one the feeling that the narrator, Fido, wishes to communicate one story—a warning about John’s true nature and intentions—but is diverted into telling another story—a warning about enraged humanity’s savage and barbaric reaction against a gentle spirituality that it does not understand. Reading Odd John superficially, one comes away thinking that the mutants of the Colony, if left to their own devices, would have evolved into highly spiritual, peaceful beings, taken with a monastic life of the mind and soul beyond human ken. A deeper reading leads past this surface gloss to the warning that Fido could not directly state.
When the Colony was discovered by Europeans, they first tried to erase the memory of their existence from the crew of the English ship that found them; however, their powers were not strong enough to do this.
Another English ship arrived shortly after this, and the crew was convinced by mental coercion that the Colony was a great social experiment, yet as the ship left their immediate influence, the crew realized that their minds had been influenced. The ship was sent back to capture the immoral young people. To show the Colonists’ power and their dedication to the Colony, John declared any one of them that the British sailors attempted to capture would make themselves die rather than be captured. When hands were laid upon two of the Colony members, they willed themselves to die. Horrified, the British sailors left. John then used his psycho-physical ability to cause the bodies to burst into ash.
One of the Colonists designed a device that could fire a destructive ray capable of devastating any ship coming to the island. But the Colonists chose not to build it, claiming that doing so would leave them “ruined, hopelessly distorted in spirit” therefore unfit for their real work, “the founding of a finer species, and for worship” (p. 149, ch. 21).
Eventually a fleet from the Great Powers of the world was sent to capture the colony. Once again they offered passive resistance. Another Colonist forced himself to die rather than be captured. Once again the colony was left in peace as the horrified representatives of the Great Powers left.
John asked his confidant Fido to leave, knowing that the end was near.
We do not believe that the narrator of the work can be fully trusted as he is almost entirely enthralled by John. Examples of this enthrallment are his utter fascination with John as a child, even though John considers him about the same level as a dog. When John wished him to come to the island, Fido at first refused because he was about to get married but then found himself agreeing despite himself. He was so completely in John's thrall Fido even referred to himself as John's slave.
John used Fido as a sounding board and for his own perverse amusement from the outset. The biography of John was of course primarily composed of events that the narrator had no personal knowledge of, but which were related to him by John.
The story of the Colony's end comes second-hand, told to the Fido by a sailor who took part in the final assault on the colony and by Pax, who received a telepathic view of the Colony’s destruction from John. The governments of the major powers launched a final assault on the mind-bending freaks. The Colonists made the soldiers turn upon each other, killing one another.
After the surviving soldiers fled back to their ship, the island began to blaze and then blew up, beginning to sink. Rather than be captured or killed, the Colonists apparently blew up their power station and went out in a fiery blast.
Odd John and his small band of Homo superior vanished from the earth in a spectacular explosion, perhaps like the one that created their mutant ancestors.
Or did they?
Let’s look at some various clues in the novel.
Fido was asked to come to the island to observe it, but this was only a short time prior to the sudden discovery of the Colony by the outside world. Prior to this discovery, several of the members of the Colony had remarked that they only had a short time left. Either they possessed a form of prescience or something else was going on.
Let's say for the sake of argument that indeed something else was going on.
The Colony was fated to be destroyed as part of John's master plan. Fido was asked to come to the island so that he could write a "truthful" yet still biased account of what happened on the island. Fido ascribed the actions of John and his people to a desire to develop spiritually away from humanity. Their project of self-isolation and self-improvement set a precedent for the idea that mutants do not want to rule the world but want only to be allowed to live in peace.
The Colonists used their telepathic powers to lure the first ship to the island, setting up the chain of events that followed. John probably had several purposes in exposing his colony to the world. One was to bring attention to the fact that Homo superior existed in the world; another was that they did have great mental powers and would use them to defend themselves. He also wanted to create the motif of the persecuted, peaceful minority.
Fido was told about the supposed destructive ray, which may not have actually existed, so that it could shown that the persecuted mutants were so peaceful they chose not to wage justified war on humanity. They chose to attempt to coexist rather than destroy.
Another proof of their great power and also the dedication to their cause was that they chose to commit suicide rather than be captured. When touched by a sailor, a colonist would keel over dead. John later destroyed the bodies. Or did he? Were there really bodies? Is it possible that this was another ploy to play on civilized sensibilities and possibly the fear of the unknown? It was one thing to shoot a person in battle, but to have someone die when you touch them would most likely be horrifying to anyone, especially if the telepaths were heightening this horror.
It should be remembered that Odd John was often said to have great control of his body—as an infant he had been able to control his heartbeat and respiratory systems. This seems to be a common ability among Oddian mutants. The "dead" actually put themselves into a state resembling death. John destroyed the bodies in front of Fido, who was in most respects John's mental thrall. John could have easily planted the idea that the bodies had been destroyed. It should also be remembered that John had showed an ability to disguise himself and to misdirect attention. The pyrokinetic destruction of the bodies may have been a bit of prestidigitation. The “dead” colonists probably hid on another part of the island out of sight, preparing for the final act.
John and his followers deliberately escalated the conflict against them by using seemingly ineffective mind control that made the Great Powers fear the mutants. Yet at the same time John was sowing the seeds for sympathy for the mutant cause by portraying them as persecuted. It may be that part of this was a cunning plan, but it may have also stemmed from his inner dichotomy of feeling superior to ordinary humanity yet also experiencing great self-loathing for his abnormal appearance.
John's final act to create sympathy for the mutant cause and also to protect his colony was martyrdom. It should be remembered, however, that Fido did not observe the final days of the colony.
That the colonists were not truly given over to pacifism can be demonstrated by how they dealt with the soldiers attacking the island. They could have coerced them to leave the island without firing a shot or fall asleep or join them. While it is true that they did coerce the soldiers to leave three times and each time the troops returned, they could have continued to do it as long as necessary had they really wished. Instead they made the soldiers attack one another. The soldiers returned to their ship preparing for another assault when the island suddenly exploded.
The explosion of the island's power plant apparently sank the island and nearly destroyed the ship that had come to attack them. In all probability, the colonists slipped away from the island after the first attack and before the power plant went off. Once they were thought to be dead they were able to form a new colony in relative freedom. Meanwhile the world would be aware of the existence of mutantity, and other mutants would be made aware of more of their kind’s existence and of humanity’s true feelings toward mutantkind. Knowing this, they might be more amenable to joining John when contacted.
 The clue that the
 That this intercourse occurred is confirmed, indirectly, in several photocopied pages of what appears to be Pax’s diary that have come into our possession.
 In the novel Odd John, Adlan is reported to have died in 1896 and to be communicating with Odd John across time through the medium of one of John’s mutant adherents. While Adlan supported the idea of the colony, he had no desire to belong to it. Given the tragic fate of the colony, Odd John may have reported that Adlan had died many years prior to the founding of the colony so that the still living Adlan would not be connected to the colony. It is also possible that Adlan was more skilled with his mental powers and merely made John believe that the dead could talk through the living.
 Mental Telepathy: An Unfortunate By
Product of the Malformed Hypothalamus by Caliban and Crane, a joint paper
read at the Symposium on An Exploration of Psionic Abilities Through a Study of
Brain Function in
 Dr. Robert Hartley, “A Mask of Insanity: The Psychological Roots for the Motivations and Appearance of ‘Super-Villains’,” American Journal of Psychology, 18(2), May 1977.
 It was important to Odd John's self image and theory of Homo superior that he was thought of as unique. Therefore when he later learned that he had brothers who had also inherited some of the psionic gifts he believed were the unique talents of Homo superior, i.e. atavistic mutants like him, despite not displaying the other attributes such as deformities or slow aging, he studiously ignored them.
 That the soldiers assaulted the island with landing parties without first pounding the island with shells is a bit odd in itself. One possible explanation is that John prevented this thought from occurring because he could not chance a stray shell prematurely setting off the explosives that they had laid out.