Real Name: Jason Wilkes
Identity/Class: Human mutate technology user
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Unidentified Communist agent
Known Relatives: Sister (name unrevealed)
Aliases: "The Unseen" (in story title only)
Base of Operations: An abandoned mansion at 412 Elm Street, somewhere in an unidentified American town
First Appearance: Tales of Suspense I#25/3 (January, 1962)
Powers/Abilities: Apparently an expert in the field of optics, Wilkes built two Electromagnetic Ray Projectors for his experiment in invisibility. Following his exposure to the energy beam of one of the projectors, Wilkes was permanently left in a ghostly state where he was immaterial and imperceptible to other humans.
(Tales of Suspense I#25/3 (fb) - BTS) - The past of Professor Jason Wilkes is unknown, although he did gain a reputation for his scientific work with vision and light. He lived in a small American town, in a house that he shared with his spinster sister. Wilkes' renown attracted the attention of an unidentified nation behind the Iron Curtain, which dispatched a representative to America to contact the scientist.
(Tales of Suspense I#25/3) - "In the fall of 1961," Wilkes received an anonymous letter promising him great wealth if he came to an abandoned mansion at 9:30 that evening. Although his sister was curious about the content of the letter, Wilkes angrily told her to mind her own business because if the offer was real, he had no intention of sharing with her. Later that night, Wilkes went to the old mansion and met the Communist agent. The spy told Wilkes that his nation knew of the scientist's work, and offered to pay him the sum of $1 million if he developed a workable method of invisibility for the foreign power. Feeling no loyalty for his own country, Wilkes was willing to turn traitor and took the agent's offer. The next day, Wilkes told his sister he was going on vacation to South America (to cover his absence), then he moved into the old mansion and began to build the Commies the greatest weapon of modern times--with an invisible army, they would be able to conquer any nation on Earth! After long weeks of work, Wilkes completed the two ray projectors. He first used the invisibility ray to make a bowl of fruit vanish, then made it reappear with the "antidote" ray. With his initial trial a success, Wilkes next conducted three separate tests on some animals--a cat, a fishbowl containing three goldfish, a canary--and made them all disappear and return to normal with no ill effects. The projectors seemed to work perfectly each time, but Wilkes wanted to give the machines the crucial test, to see if the process would work on a human being. The scientist had such confidence in his work that he was willing to be the "guinea pig" in his own experiment, so Wilkes activated the invisibility ray and stepped into the path of the beam, then completely vanished from sight. He rejoiced his scientific achievement because the Reds would now have their weapon and he would get the million dollars. But as Wilkes was about to turn himself visible and contact the spy, he tried to activate the "antidote" ray and was shocked to find that when he had become invisible, his body had lost its substance--as a result, he was unable to touch the "antidote" ray's activation switch! And he further discovered that since his vocal chords were also immaterial, he wasn't able to speak to anyone or call for help. Unable to interact with the physical world, Jason Wilkes realized he was paying the price for betraying his nation, and he was forever condemned to the existence of an unseen phantom.
Comments: Created by an uncredited writer, Jack Kirby (pencils) and George Klein (inker).
Wilkes' circumstance seems to be similar to the condition suffered by Gustav "Schultz".
Unlike Karlos Konak (who also experimented with invisibility), Wilkes was still able to see the world around him while he was invisible.
Unlike the depiction of most other invisible characters in comics (where they are shown as transparent outlines), Wilkes was completely gone after he faded away, and his presence was only shown by a thought balloon.
Wilkes' attempt at invisibility reminds me of the real-life urban legend of "The Philadelphia Experiment".
Recently, a character named Jason Wilkes appeared on a few episodes of the ABC TV series "Marvel's Agent Carter" -- he was an African-American scientist who had been rendered into an invisible/intangible ghost-like state, so he was probably based on this comic-book character.
And a BIG Thank You to Monsterblog for the scans!
Profile by John Kaminski.
Jason Wilkes, "the Unseen", has no known connections to:
Electromagnetic Ray Projectors
Two devices built by Jason Wilkes, the invisibility ray (right) emitted a beam that rendered matter invisible, while the "antidote" ray (left) fired a beam that counteracted the effects of the invisibility projector. After successfully testing both projectors, Wilkes tried the invisibility ray on himself, only to discover that it caused him to become intangible as well; because of his incorporeal condition, Wilkes was unable to activate the "antidote" ray to return himself to normal.
--Tales of Suspense I#25/3
Unidentified Communist Agent
A representative of a country behind the Iron Curtain, the spy came to America to recruit the services of Jason Wilkes; he offered the scientist $1 million if he developed a process to render things invisible.
--Tales of Suspense I#25/3
Tales of Suspense I#25/3, p1 (main image)
Tales of Suspense I#25 (January, 1962) - Jack Kirby (pencils), George Klein (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Last updated: 03/09/16
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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