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THE WITNESS

Real Name: Unrevealed

Identity/Class: Human magic user (World War II to modern era)

Occupation: Undercover agent; former vigilante, police officer

Group Membership: The Twelve (Black Widow/Claire Voyant, Blue Blade/Roy Chambers, Captain Wonder/Jeff Jordan, Dynamic Man, Electro, Fiery Mask/Jack Castle, Laughing Mask/Dennis Burton, Master Mind Excello/Earl Everett, Mister E/Victor Jay, Phantom Reporter/Dick Jones, Rockman)

Affiliations: Tommy Atkins, Danni (waitress), Colonel Frank Dexter, SHIELD, Nick Fury

Enemies: Dynamic Man, Vic Duval, Imp (Booie Dawdly), Nails Jenks, League of Blood (Ignacio Natas and unidentified others), Mr. Flint (aka Herr Falkenstein), Nazis, Spike, Schutzstaffel

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
                                   formerly the Twelve's mansion, New York;
                                   formerly a bunker in Berlin, Germany;
                                   formerly New York City, New York

First Appearance: Mystic Comics I#7 (December, 1941)

Powers/Abilities: The Witness possesses no known superhuman powers except for a mystical form of precognition he cannot control. The Witness is shown flashes of people dying in terrible tragedies and is then tasked to find them to judge whether they deserve this fate or not. If he deems them innocent, he is allowed to save them, if not he must make sure his vision comes to pass. Despite his relative lack of height, the Witness is an intimidating presence because of his piercing, large eyes coupled with his whispery, ghostlike voice. The Witness has all the skills and training of a 1930s police officer and is proficient in the use of handguns. He is of Jewish ancestry.

Height: 5'6"
Weight: 180 lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black

History:

(The Twelve I#5 (fb) ) - The man who would become known as the Witness was born in a Jewish family in late 1910s Chicago. From an early age on, he dreamed of becoming a cop and finally joined the Chicago police force in the mid 1930s. He was good at his job, but went to jail when he accidentally shot and killed an innocent man because he was too impatient to find out if he was guilty or not. He served a two year sentence during which the other inmates made his life a living hell. Once he got out, he was unemployable and shunned by everyone he loved. Forced to live on the streets, he got desperate enough to commit suicide. An unknown force rescued his life and offered him a chance to save his immortal soul by becoming the Witness. He was granted a precognitive sense that showed him glimpses of terrible events often days before they happened. It was up to the Witness to visit the future victims and judge whether they deserved this tragic fate or not. If they were worthy of salvation he was allowed to help them, if not he was forced to make sure the horrors in his vision came to pass.

(Mystic Comics I#7) - The Witness was guided to intervene in the schemes of Chicago based criminal Natas, leader of the lethal League of Blood. He arrived too late to stop them from killing football player Sid Stern (whose death was ordered for 5000 dollars by Nick the Gambler who wanted the player dead to influence the football season). After capturing one of the League members, the Witness learned of Nick the Gambler's involvement and went to see him. However, his intimidating presence caused Nick to have a fatal heart attack just as Natas arrived to collect his fee for killing Sid Stern. After a brief struggle, Natas managed to escape but the Witness caught up with him a day later when he and his men tried to rob the Rollings Trucking Company on a mountain road. During the conflict, the Witness defeated the Leagers and made sure Natas fell to his death.

(Mystic Comics I#8) - The Witness intervened when infamous robber Nails Jenks and his accomplice Spike robbed Cartiffy's Jewelry Shop , on orders from crime boss the Imp. The Witness captured Spike, but Nails escaped with the loot to the Imp who was less than pleased that the Witness was on the case. The following day, while investigating the robbery, the Witness visited the pawn shop of Booie Dawdly (actually the Imp in disguise), claiming he had heard the kindly old man might know more of the Imp. To his surprise, Booie revealed that the Imp had his base under his shop and opened a trapdoor to allow the hero to enter the basement. As soon as the cellar door slammed shut, Booie rushed down to confront the Witness as the Imp. However, the Witness had very little trouble defeating the Imp and Nails, bashing both bad guys repeatedly but giving the Imp an extra punch because he simply didn't care for imps in general. He left the defeated criminals with the stolen jewels for Officer William O'Brian to pick up.

(Mystic Comics I#9) - The Witness, briefly trading his red hooded costume for a conventional three piece suit, traveled to New England. There, he became aware of the criminal Vic Duval who ran a crooked gambling ring aboard his yacht right out of territorial waters. The Witness rescued Tommy Atkins from the water, he had been tossed overboard after complaining about Duval's rigged gaming tables. Determined to intervene, he sent Tommy home and then commandeered a water taxi to reach the yacht. He made short work of Duval's henchmen and then exposed his cheating to all the players aboard. The Witness then made sure the yacht was returned to the harbor where Vic Duval was arrested and charged with illegal gambling, blackmail and attempted murder.

(The Twelve: Spearhead#1 (fb) - BTS) - When the United States declared war on Germany and Japan, the Witness eventually joined the war effort and accompanied the troops to Western Europe. He carried out several, undocumented covert missions behind the lines.

(The Twelve: Spearhead#1 (fb) ) - After an undercover mission to deliver vital intelligence from the Red Army, the Witness was invited to take a tour of the Auschwitz concentration camp the Russian troops had recently liberated. There, the Witness was confronted with the engine of genocide: the gas chambers and the furnaces as well as the thousands of Jewish prisoners and the bodies of the tens of thousands who didn't make it. As a Jew himself, it left a distinct impression on the Witness.

(The Twelve I#5 (fb) - BTS) - In Auschwitz, the Witness had a vision about camp guard Herr Falkenstein who would one day get hit by a bus. Not needing too long to contemplate whether he deserved that fate or not, the Witness was determined to make sure Falkenstein would get what was his.

(The Twelve: Spearhead#1) - In early 1945, the Witness was stationed at an allied army base in Germany along with several other costumed heroes. He kept to himself most of the time, even deciding not to attend the USO show featuring Blue Blade. However, he did recount the horrors of Auschwitz to his fellow vigilantes the Phantom Reporter and Mister E.

(The Twelve I#1) - On Wednesday April 25th, 1945, the Allies began their final assault on Berlin. The Witness and eleven other vigilantes found themselves teaming up to investigate the largely abandoned headquarters of the SS for possible snipers or other opposition. The search led them to an underground lab facility which actually turned out to be a trap. Once they were all inside, the doors closed and a special knock out gas was pumped in. SS officers hurried in to put the heroes in freezing tubes, planning to study and dissect these "supermen" after the war so they could turn the next generation of Nazis into a true master race.

(The Twelve I#1 - BTS) - The SS officers hadn't counted on the Russian army reaching strategic parts of Berlin before the allied forces. The Russians captured and executed the SS officers responsible for keeping the Witness and the other heroes on ice.

(The Twelve I#12 - BTS) - All the heroes were bombarded by the continuous cybernetic thought waves of the robot Electro who was desperate and alone after the impenetrable bunker cut off his connection to its inventor Philo Zog. Eventually, he'd form a bond with the android Dynamic Man, but the continued exposure to Electro's brainwaves left all the heroes present uniquely capable of connecting with Electro.

(The Twelve I#1 - BTS) - In recent years a German construction crew accidentally unearthed the underground facility where the heroes were being kept. The American authorities were informed and quickly took charge of the situation, bringing everyone back to the United States where they were revived and led to believe it was still the 1940s in an attempt to gently reintroduce them to today's world.

(The Twelve I#1) - Phantom Reporter and Captain Wonder eventually saw through the ruse, forcing the military to inform the others of their current predicament as well. The Witness and his compatriots all agreed with the army's offer to help them get adjusted so they could be what they were before: heroes serving their country in its hour of need.

(The Twelve I#2) - The Witness and the others moved to a luxurious mansion outside of New York supplied and funded by the army. Their liaison Colonel Dexter showed them around and assured the heroes they were welcome to stay there rent- and expense free for 12 months while they got their bearings in this new world.

(The Twelve I#3) - In an attempt to get reacquainted with the new world they found themselves in, Fiery Mask and the Witness went to visit one of the Mask's old 1940s watering holes, formerly known as Flannery's. At the bar, the Witness' morose appearance caught some attention from the local patrons but all the attention went to the Fiery Mask when he used his flame powers to stop a drive by shooting.

(The Twelve I#4) - The Witness kept to himself most of the time, though he did attend the going away party of Master Mind Excello who had reclaimed his enormous wealth and had decided to move out. During the get-together, he had a heart-to-heart with Mister E who, after a disastrous reunion with his family, was finally ready to confess he was a Jew. All the stone faced vigilante said in reply was that he was Jewish as well. 

(The Twelve I#5) - Sensing the vision he had in Auschwitz about prison guard Falkenstein was about to come true, the Witness travelled to New York City. He spent some time at a local diner, recounting his origins to waitress Danni who had a hard time believing his fantastical story. When she saw her regular customer, the elderly Mr. Flint, approaching the diner for his daily cup of coffee, the Witness quickly changed into his costume and went outside. He addressed Flint by his true name: Falkenstein, a fact that stunned the man to such a degree he didn't realize he was standing still in the middle of the road. Seconds later, he was hit and killed by the Yancy Street bus. Satisfied justice had been served, the Witness took in the spectacle. The Witness returned home and the next morning, having coffee with Fiery Mask, Phantom Reporter, Dynamic Man and Captain Wonder, calmly commented he merely went for a walk the other night. His story was quickly forgotten when the arrogant Dynamic Man began to needle Captain Wonder who was still grieving the loss of his family. Wonder hit Dynamic Man who was eager for a fight, but the Fiery Mask used his flame powers to break them up.

(The Twelve I#6) - The Witness watched a news report covering Captain Wonder's recent heroic exploits, including saving a malfunctioning space shuttle, along with Dynamic Man, Mister E and the Phantom Reporter.

(The Twelve I#10) - The Witness, along with the surviving 1940s heroes, gathered at their mansion to hear the Phantom Reporter and Master Mind Excello's proof the robot Electro wasn't responsible for the recent death of their ally Blue Blade's. Slowly establishing the evidence, they revealed the overly zealous, moral Dynamic Man was the true culprit and a sexless android to boot. Infuriated his true, inhuman origin was uncovered, the superbly powerful creature vowed to kill every last one of them.

(The Twelve I#11) - The Witness fired several rounds at Dynamic Man, but his bullets simply bounced off him. He was eventually trapped with the others when Dynamic Man destroyed the support beams of the house causing the structure to collapse on them. Thanks to Rockman's strength, everyone escaped unscathed even though Rockman himself seemingly perished underneath the vast amount of rubble. The Witness was not involved in the final fight against Dynamic Man, which ended with both the evil android and Fiery Mask dying in the line of duty. He attended the hero's funeral, along with the others and witnessed how the Phantom Reporter (who had inherited the Mask's fire powers) lit the hero's tombstone as a lasting tribute.

(The Twelve I#12 - BTS) - The Witness was contacted by SHIELD who offered him the resources needed to track down and deal with the men he saw in his visions. He agreed to their proposal and joined their cause.

Witness with Nick Fury (The Twelve I#12) - On a mission in the Mediterranean, the Witness made a brief telephone call to the Phantom Reporter to explain his new mission in life. He felt that the world had changed during the time they were asleep. Murderers now felt they could hide from man's justice and God's wrath because they'd left no witnesses alive to judge them. He was going to show them they were wrong. And though he was now living in the shadows, a man without a name or a country he did have a purpose and that would take him far. The Phantom Reporter never saw the Witness again.












Comments: Created by Stan Lee (writer), Mike Suchorsky (pencils & inks).

The Twelve were found in Germany on Wednesday August 2nd, 2008. This was during the rise of the Initiative in comics. The date is topical.

The Witness' precognition/crime spotting powers are a bit iffy. Sure, he knows someone's sins, but he couldn't tell Dynamic Man was responsible for all those deaths? Maybe his supernatural sight can't detect the crimes of robots or androids, but that doesn't explain why he didn't foresee the SS officers trapping him and the other heroes in 1945 Berlin (unless, of course, this was exactly what he wanted to happen... After all, that was Master Mind Excello's excuse too).

Nathan Adler hypothesized: Could the Chicago detective "Witness" from Mystic Comics#7 have been part of the Order of Witnesses (shown in John Francis Moore's X-Men: Phoenix miniseries) and the "mysterious voice" that empowered him from the order's founder (the order was founded in the late 21st century by a mutant seeking redemption for the sins of his past, which was obviously intended to be Gambit).

The Witness received a profile in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z Update#5 (February, 2011).

Thanks to Brandon Nash for pointing out the first name of Natas, the real name of Imp, Colonel Dexter's first name and the name of the officer Witness left the criminals behind for from Witness' handbook profile.

Profile by Norvo.

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Witness should not be confused with


images: (without ads)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Update#5, the Witness entry (main image)
The Twelve I#5, p8, pan4 (given a new chance after suicide)
Mystic Comics I#8, p39, pans3&4 (confronts the Imp)
The Twelve I#5, p11, pans4&5 (sees what he already saw)
The Twelve I#10, p11, pans4&5 (confronts Dynamic Man)
The Twelve I#12, p14, pan6 (with Nick Fury)


Appearances:
Mystic Comics I#7 (December, 1941) - Stan Lee (writer, editor), Mike Suchorovsky (pencils & inks)

Mystic Comics I#8 (March, 1942) - Stan Lee (writer, editor), Mike Suchorovsky (pencils & inks)
Mystic Comics I#9 (May, 1942) - Pierce Rice (pencils & inks)
The Twelve I#1 (March, 2008) - J. Michael Straczynski (writer), Chris Weston (pencils), Garry Leach (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
The Twelve I#2 (April, 2008) - J. Michael Straczynski (writer), Chris Weston (pencils), Garry Leach (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
The Twelve I#3 (May, 2008) - J. Michael Straczynski (writer), Chris Weston (pencils), Garry Leach (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
The Twelve I#4 (June, 2008) - J. Michael Straczynski (writer), Chris Weston (pencils), Garry Leach (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
The Twelve I#5 (July, 2008) - J. Michael Straczynski (writer), Chris Weston (pencils), Garry Leach (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
The Twelve I#6 (August, 2008) - J. Michael Straczynski (writer), Chris Weston (pencils & inks), Garry Leach (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
The Twelve: Spearhead#1 (May, 2010) - Chris Weston (writer, pencils, inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
The Twelve I#10 (April, 2012) - J. Michael Straczynski (writer), Chris Weston (pencils & inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
The Twelve I#11 (May, 2012) - J. Michael Straczynski (writer), Chris Weston (pencils & inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
The Twelve I#12 (June, 2012) - J. Michael Straczynski (writer), Chris Weston (pencils & inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)


Last updated: 09/04/16

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