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Real Name: Johnny Downes

Identity/Class: Human mutant (see comments) (1950s Era)

Occupation: School student

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Dr. R. Wright (full name unrevealed), U.S. Defense Council (including Professor Grant)

Enemies: None

Known Relatives: Mr. & Mrs. Downes (parents, first names unrevealed)

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: An unidentified city, USA

First Appearance: Mystic#41/3 (November, 1955)

Powers/Abilities: Endowed with mental telepathy, Johnny could "hear" the thoughts of others and perceive thought images. The limits of the youngster's mind reading ability are unknown, but on one occasion he was able to sense the thoughts of an individual from a distance of over 3,000 miles away (see comments).


(Mystic #41/3 (fb) - BTS) - The past of Johnny Downes is largely unknown (except that he was born after July 16, 1945 (see comments)). 

(Mystic #41/3) - One Sunday, Johnny brought his father a copy of the newspaper he heard him ask for, yet Mr. Downes denied ever requesting it; he'd only been thinking about it. The next morning, Johnny brought his mother a bag of groceries before she actually requested him to do so, but Johnny claimed he distinctly heard her tell him what to buy. Johnny's parents were concerned about their son's apparent "mind reading" episodes, so they decided to take him to a psychologist to have him examined. Johnny's mother took him to Dr. Wright's office, where the doctor tested the boy with a deck of playing cards--as Wright concentrated on the cards, Johnny was able to tell him the number and suit of each individual card 156 times in a row without a mistake. Amazed at these results, the doctor declared the boy had telepathy. Three days later, Wright arranged another test in which Johnny was able to duplicate a sketch drawn by one of Wright's colleagues, even though the man was over 3,000 miles away! Mrs. Downes met with Dr. Wright and asked him why her son had the strange power to read minds, but Wright could offer no explanation--he only told her that Johnny wasn't the only child with that ability, and showed her reports from other psychologists around the world regarding children who'd been brought to them with similar powers. 

    A month later, Johnny told his parents that he sensed someone was thinking of launching a guided missile at the USA, and he implored them to contact Dr. Wright. Mr. Downes spoke to the doctor and told him of Johnny's warning, and Wright confirmed that some of his other patients also "heard" the plans for the attack. Shortly thereafter, Johnny accompanied Dr. Wright and four other psychic children to Army Defense Headquarters, where Johnny told the military officials the exact date and time of the missile's launch plus its intended flight-path; the other children concurred with Johnny's assertion. The U.S. military was then able to set up counter measures and launched an interceptor missile, which destroyed the apparent threat in mid-air.

Comments: Created by an uncredited writer and  Vic Carrabotta (art).

The word "mutant" was never actually used to describe Johnny or any of the other mind reading children; however, at the end of the story, the kids' telepathy was attributed to the fact that they were all born into a world with increased radiation levels following the first atomic explosion in 1945 (for more info on this event, see HERE). 

None of the other children was identified except for the little blond girl in the pink dress--"Zelda" (see the second pic in the Dr. Wright sub-profile).

Ted Lestron was also born after the early A-bomb tests, although there are other earlier confirmed mutants (such as Roger Carstairs, and Gloria "Beasley" & Perry Hammond (see "Weird Woman") who were obviously born before the beginning of the "Atomic Age". 

Johnny (and the other kids) could only "hear" thoughts (i.e., he was a "receiver" and not a "transmitter"), but I guess his powers could have increased as he got older. 

Dr. Wright seems like a prototype for Charles Xavier; maybe that report he wrote about the telepathic kids was later used to enlist recruits for S.H.I.E.L.D.'s ESP Division. 

The events of this story could probably fit into Earth-616 continuity, with one possible exception: As Wright was compiling his report, he thought to himself, "...a generation of children has been born with the ability to read minds!" This could imply that all the world's children were telepathic at that point, so maybe this is actually an alternate Earth where telepathy became the human norm. 
Alternatively, their powers may have diminished as they grew older, with the children being just part of a small group and their families in some way connected/near to the atom bomb's detonation. This admittedly contorted explanation may shunt the story into Earth-616 reality.
---Grendel Prime

This story -- "I Can Hear You Think" -- was reprinted in Journey Into Mystery II#9/2 (February, 1974), which is where the images are from. 

And a BIG Thank You to Grendel Prime for the scans!

Profile by John Kaminski.

Johnny Downes has no known connections to:

Dr. Wright has no known connections to:

Johnny Downes' parents

Mr. & Mrs. Downes

The parents of Johnny Downes became concerned when their son began to demonstrate the power to read minds, so they consulted the services of Dr. Wright.



Professor Grant

Professor Grant

Grant, a nuclear physicist, and seven unidentified government and military officials from the U.S. Defense Council were attempting to develop a perfect defense to protect the country from foreign missile attacks. They enlisted the services of psychologist Dr. Wright to examine the growing numbers of children who were exhibiting the powers of mental telepathy. They secretly arranged a simulated attack against the U.S. with a dud missile to test the feasibility of using the young mind readers as an early-warning system against sneak attacks. Following the successful completion of the test, a military official asked Grant why and how the youngsters got their mental powers. Grant theorized that the children had all been affected by the increased levels of radiation in the world, and he pointed out that the young telepaths had something in common: They were all born after July 16, 1945, the day the first atomic bomb was detonated.



Dr. Wright

Dr. R. Wright

Dr. Wright was a psychologist who was said to be at the top of his field. He was skilled at conducting tests to determine if his patients had telepathy. Wright's past is unknown, but at some point he became affiliated (perhaps unknowingly) with Professor Grant and the U.S. Defense Department. He was part of a covert plan to utilize the increasing number of telepathic children and thereby develop a defense against foreign sneak attacks. 

Dr. Wright with the telepathic children

    Wright tested the mind reading abilities of Johnny Downes and was amazed by the results. He began to receive reports from other psychologists around the world about children who'd been brought to them with similar powers. Wright continued his research, and every child brought to him seemed to exhibit the same extraordinary ability to read thoughts. He compiled his findings in a report and sent it to the authorities (Professor Grant et al.) for their perusal. A month later, some of Wright's young patients sensed that someone was thinking of launching a guided missile at the USA. Wright took five of the children (including Johnny Downes) to Army Defense Headquarters and told the military officials of the children's warning--he stressed that he strongly believed in their telepathic powers. The children were able to unanimously confirm the exact date and time of the missile's launch, as well as its intended flight-path; with this early warning, the U.S. military was able to launch an interceptor missile that destroyed the apparent threat in mid-air.



images: (without ads)
Journey Into Mystery II#9/2, p1, pan3 (main image)

p2, pan6 (headshot)
p4, pan1 (parents)
p5, pan6 (Grant)
p3, pan1 (Wright)
p4, pan4 (Wright with children)

Other Appearances: None

Last updated: 12/01/10

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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