Real Name: John Marcus

Identity/Class: Human (1950s era)

Occupation: None

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: Unidentified doctor, Voice at the Gate

Enemies: None

Known Relatives: Frances (sister)

Aliases: "The Man Who Wasn't" (in story title only)

Base of Operations: His home, somewhere in America

First Appearance: Uncanny Tales I#25/3 (October, 1954)

Powers/Abilities: John Marcus was a normal human with no paranormal abilities; possibly suffering from lifelong depression or agoraphobia, Marcus had a cold and aloof personality, and he isolated himself from world.

After contracting an unspecified minor illness, Marcus lapsed into a coma and died, for he had no will to live; but during his experience in the afterlife, he learned a valuable lesson and revived with a new-found resolve to change his life for the better.

Height: 5'10"" (by approximation)
Weight: 170 lbs. (by approximation)
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Brown

(Uncanny Tales I#25/3 (fb) - BTS) - Born to a wealthy family, John Marcus led a completely sheltered life; because of his circumstances, he never found it necessary to work, never married, and never made any friends--like a spectator, he dispassionately stood apart from the world, but never seemed to enter it.
Having reached adulthood with no personal accomplishments, Marcus still remained in his family home with his sister, Frances.

   One day, Marcus contracted a minor illness, and as he lay unconscious in his bed, the concerned Frances arranged for a doctor to make a house-call.

(Uncanny Tales I#25/3) - After examining his patient, the doctor's diagnosis was that John Marcus was in a coma; but the physician couldn't understand why--Marcus wasn't old, he was in good physical shape, and his illness wasn't fatal, yet he didn't fight to become better, and seemed to be dying. Frances explained to the doctor that her brother had no will to live, and that was the way he had always been. The doctor could barely hear Marcus' faint heartbeat with his stethoscope, and he predicted that it would stop--a moment later, John Marcus was dead...

   In complete and utter blackness, the spirit of John Marcus seemed to slide away and leave the confines of his earthly flesh, and his last living thought was that perhaps in death, he'd find something he never found in life.

   Marcus floated through the eternal darkness peacefully, but then the blackness lightened, and he found himself walking in fleecy clouds; out of the swirling mists, a structure appeared--Marcus approached closer and saw it was a huge, golden Gate. Finding no knob or buttons to open the Gate, Marcus began to pound on the golden barrier, then called for someone to open it; but there was no answer, and the Gate remained closed. Suddenly, a chill wind lanced through him, ending the peacefulness and bringing an unknown anguish to him--he wondered why no one would open the Gate to let him in, instead of leaving him to stand out in the cold like a lost soul.

   Suddenly, all was still with a deep penetrating silence. Then a Voice boomed out, seeming to come from nowhere at once. The Voice addressed Marcus and asked what qualifications he possessed to enter what was beyond the Gate; Marcus answered that he had always been a decent man, and he never harmed anyone. But unsatisfied with Markus' response, the Voice further questioned if he had ever done anyone any good, and asked him to name some of the good things he had done in life... to tell of his little kindnesses... and of his tears and laughter.

   But Marcus could think of no specific good deed he had done in his life; he could remember no little kindnesses, no tears or laughter, for he had always remained aloof from the world, and he admitted that he had passed life by.

   Marcus saw the error of his ways--he now understood that life gave him nothing because he gave nothing to life. Not wanting to wander through the eternal darkness forever, he begged the Voice to send him back so he could actually live and do some good.

   At first there was silence...then a great sigh came, and the Voice spoke again--the Voice granted John Marcus' request, and bid him to return to his body. The great Gate vanished, wind blew as through a vast tunnel, and the spirit of John Marcus' was carried down to the blackness again, down... down... down...

   As the doctor consoled the sobbing Frances over the death of her brother, they were both shocked when the deceased John Marcus suddenly opened his eyes and sat up in bed!

   With renewed vigor, Marcus got out of bed and told Frances and the doctor that he wanted to change out of his pajamas and into his clothes--there was a lot he had to do, for the whole wide world waited outside the windows for him! Feeling a zest for life for the first time, Marcus was grateful for his second chance--this time he would LIVE...he would do good things... and he would accomplish something! John Marcus swore to himself that when death came to him again, he'd be ready!

Comments: Created by an unidentified writer and an unidentified artist (see comments).

No credits were given for this 4-page story--The Man Who Wasn't--but once suggested Bob McCarty for pencils.

This was the cover-story of this issue, but the scene depicted really didn't match--it featured two men watching a woman in a red dress (possibly Frances?) walking up the sidewalk with an invisible man (who could only be "seen" because he was wearing a hat, necktie, and shoes).

Marcus' afterlife encounter with that unidentified Voice at the Gate reminds me of the origin of DC's Spectre, who was also resurrected by "The Voice".

Although the splash-panel depicted the skeletal robed figure of Death looming over John Marcus' bed, this was only a symbolic illustration, and the entity of Death didn't actually appear in the story.

Profile by Ron Fredricks.

John Marcus has no known connections to:

Frances has no known connections to:

The Voice at the Gate has no known connections to:


Frances (last name unrevealed) was the sister of John Marcus; she lived with him in their family home.

When John contracted a minor illness and lapsed into unconsciousness, Frances arranged for a doctor to make a house-call to treat him.

But the doctor told Frances that John had lapsed into a coma and seemed to be dying; Frances explained to the doctor that the aloof John didn't fight his illness because he didn't have the will to live.

John Marcus died, but while the sobbing Frances was being consoled by the doctor, John suddenly revived, and his near-death experience left him with the resolve to change his attitude and begin to take part in life.

--Uncanny Tales I#25/3

Unidentified doctor

When John Marcus' sister Frances found him unconscious in his bed, she called the doctor to make a house-call to treat her brother.

The doctor's diagnosis was that John Marcus was in a coma, but he couldn't understand why--Marcus was young, he was in good shape, and his illness wasn't fatal, yet he was dying. Frances explained to the doctor that her aloof brother didn't have the will to live. As the doctor listened to Marcus' heartbeat with his stethoscope, he found it to be faint, and he predicted that John Marcus would be dead in moments.

When Marcus died, the doctor consoled the sobbing Frances over her brother's death, but they were both shocked when John Marcus suddenly revived with a new vigor for life.

--Uncanny Tales I#25/3

Voice at the Gate

When John Marcus died and his spirit ascended to the misty afterlife, he came upon a great golden Gate; but he could find no way to get past the barrier.

Then the Voice of an unseen and unnamed entity asked Markus what good things he had done in his life; having always lived a life of aloofness, Marcus was unable to provide an adequate answer, and he was therefore denied entrance to what was beyond the Gate.

Not wishing to wander in eternal darkness forever, Markus begged the Voice to return him to the world of the living, so that he could actually LIVE life and take part in the world.

The Voice granted Marcus' request and returned his spirit to his earthly form; the resurrected John Marcus revived, and his near-death experience left him with an improved outlook on life.

--Uncanny Tales I#25/3

images: (without ads)
Uncanny Tales I#25/3, p3, pan7 (Main Image - in afterlife, John Marcus' spirit, stands before Gate, as Voice agrees to return him to life)
Uncanny Tales I#25/3, p4, pan7 (Headshot - John Marcus)
Uncanny Tales I#25/3, p2, pan4 (John Marcus' spirit leaves his dead body)
Uncanny Tales I#25/3, p4, pan4 (John Marcus returns to life and sits up in bed; doctor and Frances (background))
Uncanny Tales I#25/3, p1, pan1 (Death looms above John Marcus' bed)
Uncanny Tales I#25/3, p1, pan3 (Frances tells doctor about her brother)
Uncanny Tales I#25/3, p2, pan1 (Frances tells doctor about her brother)
Uncanny Tales I#25/3, p1, pan3 (unidentified doctor)
Uncanny Tales I#25/3, p2, pan2 (unidentified doctor checks John Marcus' heartbeat; Frances (background))
Uncanny Tales I#25/3, p3, pan3 (in afterlife, John Marcus speaks to Voice at Gate)
Uncanny Tales I#25/3, p3, pan4 (in afterlife, Voice questions John Marcus about his qualifications to enter Gate)

Uncanny Tales I#25/3 (October, 1954) - unidentified writer, unidentified artist, Stan Lee (editor)

First Posted: 05/14/2019
Last updated: 05/14/2019

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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