Real Name: John Bentley

Identity/Class: Human technology user (1960s era)

Occupation: Scientist

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: None

Enemies: None

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: "The Frightened Man" (in story title)

Base of Operations: Unidentified American city

First Appearance: Tales to Astonish I#33/2 (July, 1962)

Powers/Abilities: Having no paranormal physical abilities, Bentley was skilled in some unspecified branch of science.

After he accidentally discovered the secret of time travel while working on an X-ray machine, Bentley used this knowledge to build a time machine.

Height: Unrevealed (6'; by approximation)
Weight: Unrevealed (180 lbs.; by approximation)
Eyes: Unrevealed
Hair: Blond

(Tales to Astonish I#33/2 (fb) - BTS) - The past of John Bentley is largely unrevealed, but he eventually became a scientist.

(Tales to Astonish I#33/2) - At the height of the Cold War in 1962 (see comments), Bentley was suffering from anxiety because he feared that global tensions would erupt into nuclear war. To take his mind off the world's international problems, he went to his lab to work on an X-ray machine; but being too frightened to concentrate on his scientific experiment, Bentley mistakenly caused the device to project a beam at an ashtray upon the table -- he was shocked when the ashtray suddenly vanished! Shortly afterward, the ashtray reappeared, and Bentley figured he had accidentally adjusted the machine such that it sent the ashtray a few seconds into the future. Realizing that he had inadvertently discovered the secret of time travel, Bentley theorized that by reversing the process, he could send people and objects into the past. Using this discovery, he began to build a time machine, for he was determined to transport himself to the past...before nuclear bombs and missiles existed, and the world was a safe place to live.

   Several weeks later, Bentley completed work on the time machine and decided to travel to the 18th Century, when the world had no knowledge of modern warfare. But after his journey, Bentley found himself in France, in the midst of the French Revolution! When the French citizens saw his "peculiar" clothing, they believed Bentley to be an aristocrat and were about to send him to the guillotine; Bentley rushed back into the time machine and activated it, sending himself further back in time to the 16th Century.

   Bentley next found himself in 1588 A.D., during the Spanish Inquisition! When they saw Bentley "magically" appear, the people of that era accused him of witchcraft, so they took him and his machine to face the Inquisitors. But using trickery, Bentley was able to escape in his machine, and he set the controls to take him back to the 14th Century.

   Appearing in an unidentified European city, Bentley noticed how ominously quiet everything seemed to be -- he soon learned that he had arrived during the Black Plague, so he rushed back into the machine to go back further in time to the First Century, A.D.

   After his arrival, Bentley went outside and found himself in the middle of the Colosseum during the barbaric days of the Roman Empire, where he was attacked by gladiators; he immediately got in the machine and went back to his own century.

   Returning home to 1962, Bentley didn't consider his voyage to have been in vain, for he had made the greatest journey in all history. He also learned a valuable lesson and gained a new perspective that alleviated his fears of nuclear war, for he realized that every era had its dangers, so it was useless for him to flee from his own time-period; instead, Bentley resolved that mankind had to do what its ancestors had done: Face the problems of their own time...and solve them, for that was how humanity had always survived...and how it would continue to survive!

Comments: Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

This story would seem to be a retelling of "Time Machine," a text-story that was first published in Mystic I#57 (March, 1957), and subsequently reprinted several times. It shared the same basic plot structure and ending moral, although the motive for building the time machine was different.

A caption on page 6 specifically mentioned that Bentley lived in the year 1962.

It seemed rather coincidental that Bentley's voyages to the past always took him to troubled locations -- maybe Immortus was manipulating Bentley's travels behind-the-scenes, so as to discourage him from making any more voyages through time, and thus prevent Bentley from creating alternate timelines.

Profile by Ron Fredricks.

John Bentley has no known connection to:

John Bentley's time machine has no known connection to:

John Bentley's X-ray machine

It was an ordinary X-ray machine in Bentley's laboratory; while adjusting it, the distracted Bentley inadvertently discovered the secret of time travel.

The machine emitted a beam which struck an ashtray, causing it to vanish; shortly afterward, the ashtray reappeared, and Bentley theorized that it had been sent a few seconds into the future.

With the knowledge gleaned from this accidental discovery, Bentley built his time machine.

--Tales to Astonish I#33/2

John Bentley's time machine

Fearing a nuclear war, Bentley built this device after he accidentally discovered the secret of time travel with his X-ray machine; he intended to transport himself to a past era -- one where atomic missiles didn't exist, and the world was a safe place to live.

But after completing the time machine, Bentley found that every time-period of the past that he visited had its own dangers, so he returned home to his own century.

About the size of a telephone booth ( know, those obsolete things where Clark Kent used to change into Superman), the time machine had a single seat for the operator. It could transport an occupant through time and space.

--Tales to Astonish I#33/2

images: (without ads)
Tales to Astonish I#33/2, p2, pan1 (Main Image - John Bentley reacts to television news broadcast)
Tales to Astonish I#33/2, p5, pan6 (Headshot - John Bentley accidentally discovers the secret of time travel)
Tales to Astonish I#33/2, p2, pan7 (John Bentley working on time machine)
Tales to Astonish I#33/2, p6, pan6 (after returning to his own time, John Bentley realizes that every time-period has its own dangers)
Tales to Astonish I#33/2, p2, pan2 (John Bentley adjusting X-ray machine)
Tales to Astonish I#33/2, p2, pan3 (beam from X-ray machine causes ashtray to vanish into the future)
Tales to Astonish I#33/2, p2, pan5 (ashtray reappears from future)
Tales to Astonish I#33/2, p2, pan8 (completed time machine; John Bentley (left))
Tales to Astonish I#33/2, p3, pan4 (time machine materializes in 18th Century France)

Tales to Astonish I#33/2, p6, pan3 (interior of time machine; John Bentley (right), sword of Roman gladiator (background))

Tales to Astonish I#33/2 (July, 1962) - Stan Lee (plot/editor), Larry Lieber (script), Jack Kirby (pencils), Dick Ayers (inks), Stan Goldberg (colors), Artie Simek (letters)

First posted: 08/28/2022
Last updated: 08/28/2022

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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