Real Name: John Billings
Identity/Class: Normal human (1950s Era)
Occupation: Inspector for an unidentified construction firm
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: His co-workers (none identified)
Known Relatives: Lisa (wife)
Aliases: Honeybun (as called by Lisa)
Base of Operations: An unidentified American city
First Appearance: Mystery Tales#40/6 (April, 1956)
Powers/Abilities: John Billings was a normal human who was somehow able to repeat a day of his life with foreknowledge, and could thus avoid a disastrous event in the near future.
(Mystery Tales #40/6 (fb) - BTS) - John Billings' past is unknown, but at some point he married Lisa and was employed as an inspector at a construction firm.
(Mystery Tales #40/6) - Waking up one morning, Billings tore off the previous day's date from his bedside calendar to show the current date: March 31st. He drove to his office to begin his work day. He was scheduled later to make a final inspection of a new bridge before it officially opened to traffic. While going through the mail, John received a phone call from his wife Lisa, who asked him to meet her at the airport to see her off on her trip. John was obligated to the inspection appointment, but he felt he could not deny his beautiful wife--besides, he was confident nothing would go wrong with the bridge--so he met Lisa at the airport at 11:15 AM to see her off on her flight. At 11:17 AM, the new bridge collapsed. Billings drove to the site of the disaster, and was tormented by overwhelming feelings of guilt. Although a news report on the radio said that no lives were lost (see comments), the bridge was a total loss and completely out of service. That evening, John was haunted by the memories of the day's mishap and regretted going to the airport--if only he'd inspected the bridge instead, the catastrophe could have been avoided. Then John heard a mysterious voice in his head which told him if he had the day to live over again, he would still have gone to the airport. Billings cried out a denial to the accusation, then blacked out...
When Billings' eyes fluttered open, he was at home, lying in bed. He glanced at his bedside calendar with the previous day's date, March 30th, on it. Yet he remembered tearing that page off earlier. As he drove to his office, John was struck with the idea that he had been given the day to live over again. Later, John got the phone call from Lisa, asking him to meet her at the airport, but this time he emphatically refused to see her off because he had to inspect the new bridge. He was overheard by his work associates, who were shocked by John's harsh demeanor. A co-worker assured John that he had inspected the bridge himself the previous night, found it to be in perfect shape, and told John he should go to see his wife. But as John drove to the airport on that second March 31st, he realized he was doing just what that mysterious voice said he would do! Determined not to miss out on this chance to intervene on destiny, John veered his car away from the airport and drove to the bridge, where he demanded to inspect it before traffic was allowed to cross... and he found a basic structural flaw. The defect was corrected and the collapse of the bridge was averted. Later, as the exhausted John Billings thought over the strange events of the stressful day, he attributed everything to a bad dream.
Sometime later, a consortium of scientists and astronomers somehow determined that the past month of March had 32 days, but they were at a loss to explain where the extra day came from... (Somebody cue the Twilight Zone theme).
Comments: Created by uncredited writer and Steve Ditko (art).
Unless the whole bridge collapse was some kind of clairvoyant premonition, I guess John Billings somehow found himself shifted to an alternate timeline where he was able to prevent the calamity. Since the day seemed to repeat itself, maybe Immortus or the Time Variance Authority were somehow involved.
(It's surprising that the bridge collapsed on that first March 31st, yet no one was killed--since the Comics Code had recently come into effect shortly before this story was published, the writer probably wanted to tone down any perceived violence.)
Pop Culture Note: This particular issue of Mystery Tales, and this story -- "March Has 32 Days" -- have some significance on the US ABC TV series "Lost". For more information, see HERE.
Along with the story "There'll Be Some Changes Made" in Journey Into Mystery I#33 (published in the same month), this story was Steve Ditko's first published work for Atlas/Marvel Comics.
And a BIG Thank You to Atlas Tales for the scans!
But what were the ramifications
of not seeing his wife off -- something far worse?
Profile by John Kaminski.
John Billings has no known connections to:
Mystery Tales #40/6, p1, pan3 (main image - waking up)
Other Appearances: None
Last updated: 12/29/09
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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