Real Name: Walter Phelps
Identity/Class: Transtemporal human technology user (1965 AD (see comments) to 25 AD)
Group Membership: None
Enemies: Romans of 25 AD (including Marcus and two unidentified soldiers)
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: "The Man from Tomorrow" (in story title)
Base of Operations: Rome in 25 AD;
originally his workshop in the Creyton house
First Appearance: Tales of Suspense I#21/3 (September, 1961)
Powers/Abilities: Having no paranormal abilities, Phelps was an ingenious inventor who built a time machine; he also seemed to be fluent in Latin (see comments).
The selfish Phelps wanted to use his invention for his own personal gain--he transported himself and a cargo of modern technological conveniences to ancient Rome, where he tried to impress the people of that era with his 20th Century gadgets so they'd make him their king; but his plan didn't work out as he'd hoped.
Height: Unreveald (5'8"; by approximation)
Weight: Unrevealed (180 lbs.; by approximation)
(Tales of Suspense I#21/3 (fb) - BTS) - The past of scientist Walter Phelps is largely unrevealed, but he eventually set up a workshop in the basement of an abandoned house; hidden away from the prying eyes of other men, Phelps secretly began to build his invention: The world's first time machine!
(Tales of Suspense I#21/3) - One evening in 1965 (see comments), after months of work, Phelps completed his time machine; but he was unconcerned with sharing his invention with the rest of the world--for his own benefit, Phelps planned to use the device to travel to ancient times, where the simple-minded people would be so impressed with his superior 20th Century knowledge that they would surely make him their king!
To prove to the people of the past that he was from the future, Phelps first packed a box with his cargo--a TV set, a portable radio, a camera, and a cigarette lighter. He then set the controls of his time machine for 25 AD, the age of the Roman Empire; he also activated a self-destruct mechanism that would cause the machine to explode after he was safely in the past, because he didn't need competition from any other "future" men. When the electromagnetic waves of the time machine bombarded him, Phelps sank into a deep sleep as he and his cargo were transported back through the months...past years...back through the miracle of space and time...
It was with a sudden start that Phelps awoke and found himself in the ancient city of Rome! He wasted no time in making his presence known to the citizens, and he called them to gather around as he introduced himself and told them that he was from the future year of 1965. However, none of the Romans believed the oddly-dressed stranger, so to prove his claim, Phelps began to unpack the cargo box and prepared to demonstrate his 20th Century gadgets.
But all of Phelps' attempts to impress the Roman people with the devices failed because he neglected to think his plan through thoroughly--in that era, there was no electricity to power the television, no broadcasting stations to receive on the portable radio, no way to develop the photographs he'd taken with the camera, and he'd forgotten to fill the cigarette lighter with fuel.
The crowd dispersed, because they thought the stranger to be either a fool or a madman; then a pair of Roman soldiers approached and informed Phelps that no one was allowed near the amphitheater after three o'clock--they ordered him to leave and to take his rubbish with him; they also warned him that the next time he violated one of the emperor's laws, he'd be sent to the salt pits.
Having no way to prove that he was from the future, Phelps could only lament to himself over the irony of the plight in which his greed had placed him--he had traveled back in time, hoping that he'd be made a ruler; but instead, he was just a misfit who didn't even know the simple customs of the age.
And so Phelps was left stranded in 25 AD because he had destroyed his time machine, so there was no way for him to be rescued by his own people...unless somebody else invented a time machine--Walter Phelps could only pray that someone would...
Comments: Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Although this story was first published in 1961, Phelps
specifically told the Romans that he was from 1965.
I say that Phelps was fluent in Latin because he was able to speak to the Romans of 25 AD--Latin was the official language of the ancient Roman Empire; and that emperor that the Roman soldiers mentioned to Phelps would have been Tiberius.
I wonder if Walter could be related to either of the other two inventors of time machines who had the same surname (see clarifications).
The basic plot of this 5-page story--The Man from... Tomorrow!--was a reworking of the earlier story of Jason Grubb.
Profile by Ron Fredricks.
Walter Phelps has no known connections to:
Walter Phelps' time machine has no known connections to:
Creyton house has no known connections to:
Located on a hill somewhere in America, it had been deserted
for an unspecified number of years prior to 1965 (see
The creation of Walter Phelps, it appeared to be a large
booth-like device that could project people and objects on a one-way
voyage through time and space, while the time machine itself remained in
When he used his time machine to transport himself to ancient
Rome in 25 AD, Phelps took along some commonplace 20th Century items--a
television set, a portable radio, a camera, and a cigarette
lighter--packed in a large box. He planned to use these items to impress
the simple-minded people of that era and convince them that he was from
But Phelps' scheme ultimately failed because the gadgets didn't function in that more primitive era--there was no electricity to power the television, no broadcasting stations to receive on the radio, no way to develop the photographs that he took with the camera, and he had forgotten to add fuel to the cigarette lighter.
--Tales of Suspense I#21/3
images: (without ads)
Tales of Suspense I#21/3, p2, pan3 (Main Image - Walter Phelps)
Tales of Suspense I#21/3, p2, pan3 (Headshot - Walter Phelps)
Tales of Suspense I#21/3, p3, pan1 (Walter Phelps and cargo box materialize in ancient Rome)
Tales of Suspense I#21/3, p5, pan3 (Walter Phelps; two Roman soldiers (background))
Tales of Suspense I#21/3, p1, pan1 (Creyton house; unidentified boy and Charlie (foreground))
Tales of Suspense I#21/3, p2, pan1 (Walter Phelps by time machine)
Tales of Suspense I#21/3, p2, pan5 (Walter Phelps operates controls of time machine)
Tales of Suspense I#21/3, p2, pan7 (Walter Phelps and box of cargo traveling through time)
Tales of Suspense I#21/3, p3, pan4 (Walter Phelps about to demonstrate television to ancient Romans)
Tales of Suspense I#21/3, p3, pan6 (Walter Phelps about to demonstrate portable radio to ancient Romans)
Tales of Suspense I#21/3, p4, pan3 (Walter Phelps demonstrates camera to ancient Romans)
Tales of Suspense I#21/3, p4, pan6 (Walter Phelps tries to demonstrate cigarette lighter to ancient Romans)
Tales of Suspense I#21/3 (September, 1961) - Stan Lee (plot/editor), Larry Lieber (script), Jack Kirby (pencils), Dick Ayers (inks), Stan Goldberg (colors), Ray Holloway (letters)
First Posted: 08/28/2021
Last updated: 08/28/2021
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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