John Kowalski

First Appearance: War is Hell #9 (October 1974).
Appearance: War is Hell #9-15, Man-Thing #10-11, Solo Avengers #3.
Years Active: 1937-present.

Kowalski's story begins on March 16, 1937. A sergeant-major in the United States Marine Corps and a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Kowalski is dishonorably discharged for espionage and high treason. The charges are false, but that doesn't help Kowalski. Because of his record he is not imprisoned; the Army deports him to Poland. (He's a naturalized American.) Kowalski spends two years in Krakow working for his uncle and being involved with a local named Analie, but refuses to heed or care about an early warning about Hitler from a member of the underground. He pays for this when, on September 1, 1939, he is killed during the Germans' initial bombing of Poland.

Unfortunately for Kowalski, he is not allowed to go on to the afterlife. Because of his ignoring the warning, he is made into a ghost, a "damned soul," cursed by Death to possess the bodies of war victims at the time of their death. Kowalski, in his new host bodies, has the memories of the departed and is forced to try to make a difference, only to be killed again and again and again.

Among the people Kowalski became were:

In the modern era Kowalski, who has been occupying the same body for decades, gets involved in an adventure with the Serpent Crown, Man-Thing, and reveals that in the modern era he actually claims souls and sends them on to their just rewards, and moreover has been doing this for four decades or more. Kowalski also reveals that he is a manifestation of Death. He begins wandering, has various adventures, and finally gets ready to give up the ghost (so to speak), having three years to prepare for the next entity to become the avatar of Death.

Apart from his possession abilities, Kowalski has no powers, apart from an ability to sense death and to gain the occasional glance into the future of World War Two. (In the modern era he acquires plot device powers that enable him to do whatever the writer wants him to do.)

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