- There are no dark corners for evil to hide in... no shadows too deep for the ever-vigilant eyes of Dr. Mid-Nite to penetrate.
- -- Doctor Mid-Nite src
In early 1941, Doctor Charles McNider and his nurse/assistant Myra Mason had been collaborating on a new anti-viral serum, when a local police officer knocked on his office door. He told McNider, that a known gangster named "Killer" Maroni had attempted to assassinate a key witness scheduled to testify against him at his trial. Although Maroni's men shot the man in the back, he was still alive, but fated to die unless McNider could save him.
Charles grabbed his medical bag and raced down to the hospital room to operate. Maroni likewise discovered that the witness was still alive, and sent a thug named Mike to finish him off. While McNider conducted his operation, Mike lobbed a hand grenade through the hospital window. The explosion killed everyone in the room except for McNider. However, shards of exploding glass flew into his eyes, permanently robbing him of his sight.
Never one to rest, McNider placed himself into an intense therapy program. He found that he developed more energy during the nighttime hours, and spent many evenings practicing gymnastics and working out. Myra Mason stayed by his side every second, and quickly began to fall in love with the strong-willed man.
Realizing that his medical career was over, Charles turned his attention towards writing. He was determined to expose the criminal underworld of the city and set about writing a magazine column, specifically targeting men like "Killer" Maroni. He often dictated his diatribes to Myra, who subsequently typed them out and mailed them to the publisher.
One evening, McNider was resting in his study contemplating his next scathing expose, when something occurred, which would change his life forever. A wood owl crashed through the window of his study, falling onto the floor. Startled by the noise, McNider tore the bandages away from his eyes. It was then that he realized he could see perfectly in the dark. Believing that his eyesight had been fully restored, he turned on a light switch, only to discover that he was blind once again. He shut out the light, allowing his night vision to focus, and took to mending the owl's wounds. McNider adopted the owl as a pet and named him Hooty.
The entire experience came as a revelation to McNider. With the aid of his secret night vision, he could now actively strike back at the criminal world that had taken his eyes from him. He developed a pair of specially modified infrared goggles that temporarily allowed him to see during the daylight. He also created a supply of Blackout Bombs that could emit clouds of inky, black smoke that only he could see through. Completing his arsenal was a black and red costume he acquired from a costume shop, and so Doctor Mid-Nite was born.
his first mission was to bring down "Killer" Maroni. Maroni's men had discovered that a local grocer named Schultz had failed to pay Maroni protection money, so the crime lord sent his goons down to the grocery store to take care of him. They attacked Schultz, but failed to kill him. Word of the attack reached the ears of Charles McNider, and his services were called upon to save Schultz' life despite being blind.
Maroni learned that McNider was attempting to operate on Schultz and had his men cut the power to the hospital. What they did not realize, was that Doctor Mid-Nite could operate just as easily in total darkness. He succeeded in saving Schultz, and then immediately set off to track down Maroni.
He raided Killer Maroni's townhouse and cut the power lines running through the basement. Several thugs tried to grapple with Doctor Mid-Nite, but with the aid of his Blackout Bombs, he easily overpowered them. Maroni himself even squeezed off a few bullets in Mid-Nite's direction. Doctor Mid-Nite evaded the gunshots and apprehended the mob boss. Killer Maroni was finally brought to justice.
Doctor Mid-Nite continued to focus on organized crime, and busted up several racketeering outfits run by the likes of Gallows Gallagher, Diamond Jack Gillen and Snakey Scarlatti. He quickly realized thought, that the criminal element was not isolated to mobsters and gun runners. His own medical profession was rife with ambitious scientists who were only too eager to use their advanced knowledge for their own amoral aims.
On one such occasion, Doctor Mid-Nite learned of a man named Professor Elba. Elba had developed an "Insanity Formula," that caused normal human beings to behave as animals. Elba sold his formula to several underworld rackets, and before long, prominent businessmen and politicians were falling sway to the effects of the drug. Unable to track down Professor Elba on his own, Doctor Mid-Nite (and Hooty) enlisted the aid of several other mystery men – the Justice Society of America. Together they broke up Elba's Insanity Formula ring and Mid-Nite tackled Elba directly. Although he tried to apprehend him alive, their fight accidentally led to Elba's death. However, Mid-Nite's bravery and commitment distinguished himself, and he was awarded a place on the roster of the Justice Society.
Mid-Nite continued to serve faithfully on the Justice Society, and also operated with the expanded war-time team, the All-Star Squadron. He remained with the Squadron until the close of World War II in April 1945, but stayed on as a faithful member of the Justice Society.
In 1951, the immortal villain, Vandal Savage, manipulated the American government into believing that the Justice Society was secretly aiding hostile foreign nations. A congressional meeting was called, and a Senate subcommittee ordered the Justice Society to publicly reveal their secret identities before the panel. Refusing to endanger their own careers for the sake of a false charge, the group disbanded, and the individual members retired from active service.
During the 1950s, Charles McNider kept a low profile, but continued to work on his magazine articles exposing organized crime. Rumors circulated, that he had taken up a position within the Federal government as an intelligence agent, but there is very little evidence to support such findings (See notes). In truth, McNider resumed his mystery man career for a brief time, but not as Doctor Mid-Nite. He took up the mantle of Starman after his longtime colleague Ted Knight decided to retire after suffering a nervous breakdown, but later passed it on to a time displaced David Knight, Ted's son. In 1953, McNider suffered a devastating blow when the girl he loved, Myra Mason, was murdered by Mid-Nite's foe The Shadower. Mid-Nite spent the next decade tracking the murderer down.
Years had passed before anyone else had heard word from any of the old Justice Society members. In that time however, a new generation of super-heroes began to spawn. These heroes ultimately gathered together as the successors of the old JSA, naming themselves the Justice League of America. In response to this new era of heroism, the surviving members of the JSA decided to come out of retirement. They operated briefly out of Gotham City, occasionally teaming up with their younger, modern counterparts in the JLA.
As Charles McNider grew older, he focused less on adventuring and turned his attention back towards his first passion – medicine. He became a medical instructor and mentor to several future prominent physicians, including Doctors Beth Chapel and Pieter Cross.
McNider rejoined his comrades in the Justice Society of America, when the cosmic entity known as the Anti-Monitor threatened to destroy the Multiverse during the Crisis on Infinite Earths event. Immediately following the Crisis, the Justice Society embarked upon an adventure that cast them out of this reality, placing them into a Limbo dimension, where they found themselves fighting the Gods of Nordic legend – seemingly for all time.
Following that battle, Doctor Mid-Nite shared in one final adventure with his lifelong brothers-in-arms. The villain known as Extant had sought to remake the entire universe and began manipulating multiple time streams to suit his own ends. The JSA, as well as dozens of other heroes banded together to stop the threat of Extant. Doctor Mid-Nite, along with the original Atom, and the futuristic android known as Hourman lost their lives during an event that has come to be known as Zero Hour.
The legacy of Doctor Mid-Nite did not end with Charles McNider however. Even before his own demise, his former student, Beth Chapel, took on the identity of Doctor Midnight and joined Infinity, Inc. (Note the difference in spelling). Another of McNider's students, Pieter Cross, later suffered an accident similar that of his predecessor's and became the most recent blind hero to adopt the name Doctor Mid-Nite. Accompanied by his own owl companion (named Charlie), Cross currently fights crime as a member of the modern incarnation of the Justice Society of America.
- Infrared Vision: Doctor Mid-Nite could see perfectly clear in total darkness without the aid of artificial enhancements, despite the fact that he was blind.
- Animal Training: Charles aided a young owl back to health and it inspired him to become Doctor Mid-Nite.
- Hand-to-Hand Combat (Basic)
- Journalism: He was also an experienced journalist with an acute knowledge of criminal subculture.
- Medicine: Doctor Mid-Nite was a qualified surgeon and medical researcher.
- Blindness: Doctor Mid-Nite was blind, and could not see in daylight without the aid of special infrared goggles.
- Specialized Lenses: Doctor Mid-Nite wore special infrared goggles that enabled him to see clearly despite his physical handicap. He did not require these goggles for purposes of night vision.
- Mid-Nite Gauntlets: Cross's gauntlets carry a wide variety of chemicals, medicines, and small-scale equipment.
- Blackout Bomb: A small bomb which release pitch-black gas that blinds villains; these "blackout bombs" could be modified to create smokey illusions or flash-bang effects.
- Cryotuber: Charles created an invention which allowed him to take full control of another person's central nervous system. Using the Cryotuber, Doctor Mid-Nite could temporarily paralyze his adversaries. The Cyrotuber also contained laser and "freezing" capabilities.
- Originally, Doctor Mid-Nite's adventures were exclusive to the continuity of Earth-Two. Following the collapse of the Multiverse in Crisis on Infinite Earths, the DC editorial staff retroactively displaced all Earth-Two Doctor Mid-Nite appearances, re-establishing his history on the modern Earth. Although there have been small, subtle changes to Doctor Mid-Nite's Post-Crisis existence, his history and background remain largely intact.
- In Martian Manhunter: American Secrets, Charles McNider appears in the 1950s as a secret agent, working behind the scenes helping to protect American interests. However, this limited series is largely considered to take place out of continuity, and as such, cannot be construed as a canonical aspect of Doctor Mid-Nite's entire history.
- In Roy Thomas' re-telling of Doctor Mid-Nite's origin, he makes use of a location known as Schultz's Grocery. This is also the name of the grocery outlet that Ma Hunkel inherited in All-American Comics #20. However, as Ma Hunkel had already taken ownership of the grocery five issues prior to Doctor Mid-Nite's first appearance, the Schultz Grocery that appears in Mid-Nite's origin cannot be the same location. Roy Thomas likely named the grocer in homage to Ma Hunkel, who featured prominently in her own stories within the same title.
- McNider's brief career as Starman in 1951 was actually a retcon created by writer James Robinson, based on a 1957 Batman story. Originally, the Starman of 1957 (not 1951) was Bruce Wayne.
- In the early months of World War II, several of the male members of the Justice Society of America, enlisted in the United States army to help out the war effort. Doctor Mid-Nite became a Captain in the US Medical Corps.
- Doctor Mid-Nite is also known as the Master of Darkness.
- For a few years, a some fans speculated that Doctor Mid-Nite may have been homosexual. This rumor was perpetuated by the apparent notion that Mid-Nite never reciprocated Myra Mason's affections, nor did he ever maintain a romantic relationship with anyone during the entire run of his publishing history. In mitigation, these stories were on average merely six to eight pages long, thereby leaving little room for romance or other subplots. The source of the speculation was a mysterious, highly ambiguous line from the Doctor Mid-Nite story in Secret Origins (Volume 2) #20. In a narrative monologue, McNider states, "She had love for me. It was a love doomed from the start... but I could never quite bring myself to tell her." Author Roy Thomas put the rumor to bed in an interview, where he clarified that Mid-Nite's sentiment referred to the fact that he was living a dual secret life as Doctor Mid-Nite – not that he was homosexual. Charles McNider's true feelings towards Myra Mason were revealed in flashback in the Bad Medicine story-arc in JSA #40. Since then, other stories have been published confirming McNider's love for Myra.
- All-American Comics
- All-Star Comics
- Smash Comics
- Doctor Mid-Nite
- Justice Society of America (Volume 1)
- Justice Society of America (Volume 2)
- 384 Appearances of Charles McNider (New Earth)
- 41 Images featuring Charles McNider (New Earth)
- 9 Quotations by or about Charles McNider (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Charles McNider (New Earth)
Justice Society of America member
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