|“||Ghost Lady told me it all be okay. She so sad, so sad, but she say it all be okay. I remember. Remember when I was Paolo. Remember when I had job protect Ghost Lady before she Ghost. I remember fire, and pain, and after. I live, and she live, in a way. Job not over. Not over 'till she finally safe. 'Till she at peace.||„|
Wretch is sidekick and bodyguard to Ghost Widow of Arachnos in the MMO City of Heroes. Wretch is slavishly loyal to the supervillainess Ghost Widow and gained his super strength and freakish appearance trying to save her life. While he seems to be a slow-witted brute he is in fact perhaps the only person Ghost Widow trusts completely.
Paolo Marino was one of Arachnos's many Wolf Spider Commanders, troop leaders of the base units that make up Arachnos. Paolo was not the only one in his family with ties to Arachnos, he had a sister named Pia who was part of the Arachnos Widows as a Seer. Paolo was also in a long term relationship with a woman named Belladonna Vetrano also within the Widows as a Night Widow. In 1989 Paolo and Belladonna were sent to Mercy Isle by Arachnos to track down a member of the Mafia style crime syndicate known as 'The Family'. The Family member was wanted for crimes against Arachnos and was known to be particularly well stocked on guns, explosives and chemical weapons, so rather than send in a simple raiding squad Arachnos treated the fugitive as a high-risk and sent a two part team to weed him out of his hideout. Widow Vertrano was the head of the stealth unit which was to go in and take out the Family member quickly, Wolf Commander Marino was in charge of the back-up unit, if a distraction was needed or Vertrano was discovered the Wolf Spider unit was to be support fire. However something went wrong. Since his hunters were closing in on him and not wanting to take the chance of being bought before Lord Recluse the Family member decided to go out in a literal blaze of glory and blew his chemical weapons once inside his hideout before Vetrano could get to him. When the explosion occured it wiped out the Family, and the Stealth squad, Widow Vetrano included. Paolo charged the flames, wreckage and chemcials to try to go inside and save Belladonna. He retrieved her body but she was already dead and Paolo himself became badly burned by the chemicals and was rushed off to an Arachnos medical facility for treatment as the only survivor.
A New Life
Though his life signs were stablized Paolo underwent a radical mutation from the chemicals and was transformed into a twisted hulking brute. Paolo's face was never normal again, whether this is because his features were too warped for plastic surgeons to do anything or he just refused out of depression is never stated. Arachnos units were sent later to do a follow up on the wreckage of the building but were attacked by a ghost. Mu'Rakir, a member of the Mu Mystics of Arachnos, was in charge of the expedition and the one man who escaped the carnage, Mu'Rakir reported the attack by what he believed to be the ghost of Belladonna Vetrano killing off his men. Lord Recluse then ordered a follow up unit of Mu Mystics to go to the building and release Widow Vetrano's ghost from it's unfinished bussiness...and instead bind her to Arachnos! The Mu unit returned and reset Belladonna's anchor to this world not as anger, regret or sadness but as her duty to Arachnos and so the same things that bound Belladonna's ghost to the world and allow her to manifest her ghostly powers also bound her in service to Lord Recluse until Arachnos itself ceased to be. Widow Vetrano was given the new title "Ghost Widow" and was appointed as one of Lord Recluse's Patrons - his right hands and amoung the most powerful and "trusted" among Lord Recluse's minions. Each Patron os allowed to choose a sidekick, a go to henchman/bodyguard within Arachnos so they do not need to leave Lord Recluse's side for busy work, Belladonna chose Paolo, whom the other soldiers were now calling "The Wretch".
Paolo kept the name Wretch and Arachnos officially declared Paolo Marino dead to protect him and by extension Ghost Widow from any unresolved issues with his former life. The player may find all this out by agreeing to help Pia Marino discover the mysterious circumstance of her brother's death from levels 15-20.
Wretch appears to be dimwitted because of his simplistic manner of speech that apparently resulted from some light brain damage from the explosion, however he still has the military training common to all Arachnos soldiers. As a Wolf Spider Commander Paolo would have received the psychically induced hypo-therapy from the Seer Network of Arachnos to reinforce loyalty and protect them from mental manipulation; considering his links to the head of the Widows now this psychic conditioning seems even more likely. But hypo-therapy aside Wretch is extremely loyal to Ghost Widow by his own right. Though Wretch is still in love with Ghost Widow and she is fond of him she is currently incapable of returning the feelings to him or displaying any emotion that exceeds her now muzzle-like loyalty to Arachnos. Ghost Widow's inability to fully reciprocate love has not discouraged Wretch in his duty to her though and he aims to protect her from anyone that might seek to further hurt her.
In the alternate reality of Praetoria - where heroes took over the world as villains and Lord Recluse never existed, Paolo serves Emperor Cole, as a well trained soldier. Up for promotion many times, Paolo had sabotaged his own advancement in-order to remain bellow notice of higher officers in-order to continue to feed The Resistance information. The reason for Praetorian Paolo's secret defection is because Belladonna Vetrano is one of the heads of The Resistance. However when Paolo is found out and killed he is killed by Praetor Sinclair - Emperor Cole's right-hand-assassin. Belladonna swears a bloody vengeance on Sinclair and goes to kill him. As Arachnos had crossed into that reality to help The Resistance, assured they would inherit whatever society was left after the fall of Cole, Ghost Widow and Wretch became aware of the fate of the alternate Paolo. Ghost Widow's response was to isolate Praetor Sinclair from the rest of his troops and let her Praetorian self have her way with him or die trying to join Paolo. These Praetorian counter-parts show how Paolo and Ghost Widow really feel about each-other despite Ghost Widow's repressed nature and Wretch's slavish loyalty that prevent either from expressing their love.
Powers and Abilities
Wretch has super human strength and is highly resistant to most damage. He has been known to knock clear through walls with a single punch, rip apart concrete and tear people apart with his bare hands. Though more vulnerable to psychic assaults than anything else his mind is very difficult to manipulate; this is likely due to both the hypo-therapy he would have received as a Wolf Spider Commander and his empathetic link to Ghost Widow. An additional effect of the chemicals was that Wretch's immune system steadily mutates when encumbered, making any drugs used on him eventually ware-off and render him immune to further doses. Wretch and Ghost Widow can sense when the other is in danger and home in on the other. Mu'Rakir in an attempt to destroy Ghost Widow once and for all, to pay her back for killing his team, masterminded a plot to kill her by destroying Wretch as her link to the world. However Mu'Rakir would find his theory wrong and that Arachnos itself was her binding and all he had done by trying to kill Wretch was effectively get on Ghost Widow's bad side. Mu'Rakir is never heard from again.