Doctor Mid-Nite

Character Data

Dr. Charles McNider of Earth 2

Residence: New York City; later Los Angeles, California
Occupation: Physician, Author
First Appearance (Golden Age): All-American Comics #25 (April 1941)
First Appearance (Silver Age): The Flash vol. 1 #137 (July 1963)

Joined JSA: All-Star Comics #8
 

 

Character History

Little is known of the early life of Charles McNider. In 1941, McNider was an accomplished physician and researcher working in New York City. Late one evening he was called upon by police to treat a mob informant by the name of Brown. Brown had run afoul of local Mafioso "Boss" Maroni. As McNider tended Brown, a local gangster threw a grenade into the room and the resulting explosion killed Brown, his nurse, and the attending police officer. McNider survived, but the explosion left him blinded for life. He abandoned his medical practice at this point, devoting himself to research. His nurse, Myra Mason, became his personal assistant. McNider also resolved to battle crime through other media, by writing scathing editorials and detective stories based on figures in organized crime.

McNider was meditating in his study one fateful evening when an owl broke a window, startling the physician. In his haste, McNider loosed his bandages and discovered that, in the darkness, he had the ability to see. However, upon turning on the lights, he was blinded once again. His vision was only functional in the absence of light. Energized by this discovery, McNider studied a variety of lenses in an attempt to find a kind that shielded him from the light and heightened the infrared in the darkness. He also adopted the owl who had led to this discovery, naming him Hooty. Eventually, McNider perfected his lenses and decided that his ability to see in absolute darkness would give him an advantage in battling the criminal element. He devised a series of chemical explosives called "blackout bombs," which produced thick clouds of black smoke in which only he could see. McNider also devised a costume and code-named himself Doctor Mid-Nite.

Doctor Mid-Nite's first act as a "mystery-man" was to track down the criminal that had led to his blindness: "Boss" Maroni. After saving the life of an informant critically injured in a Maroni reprisal, Doctor Mid-Nite ambushed Maroni in his lair. Cutting off the power to his home left the crime lord and his lackeys in complete darkness, allowing Mid-Nite to thrash them as they fumbled blindly. With Maroni in jail, McNider worked harder in his writing and promoting anti-crime messages. Eventually, McNider chronicled some of his own exploits as Doctor Mid-Nite (All-American Comics #25).

As a mystery-man, Mid-Nite was an inveterate foe of organized crime. Unlike many of his colleagues, Mid-Nite rarely encountered costumed adversaries, preferring to concentrate on breaking up the various racketeer and Mafia operations infesting New York City. As McNider, Doctor Mid-Nite continued to shield Myra Mason from the knowledge of his true identity. He also continued making contributions to medical research and serving as a consultant to the military (as shown in Wonder Woman vol. 1 #234-235).

In 1941, Doctor Mid-Nite joined the Justice Society of America as Green Lantern resigned his active membership (All-Star Comics #8). Mid-Nite was also a charter member of the All-Star Squadron called together later that year by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (All-Star Squadron #3). Throughout World War II, Doctor Mid-Nite rarely involved himself individually with national-level cases but was a steadfast member of the JSA.

After the war, Mid-Nite encountered occasional costumed villains such as The Baleful Banshee (All-American Comics #65) or the Sky-Raider (All-American Comics #98). A recurring foe was Doctor Light, a scientist with a rather odd appearance (All-American Comics #82, 89, 91) who countered Mid-Nite's science with science of his own. As McNider, Mid-Nite largely abandoned his writing as his medical research contributions reached a prominence they had originally held before his career as a mystery-man. He particularly excelled at optics research as he tried to apply the work on his own blindness to blindness in general.
Doctor Mid-Nite was an active member of the JSA during its last case in 1951 (Adventure Comics #466). Along with the other JSA members, he retired from active service rather than expose his identity to the world. Doctor Mid-Nite's subsequent activities are unclear. No mention of a marriage has been made, nor have any children come forth to claim his heritage. When Vandal Savage kidnapped several members of the JSA in 1963, Doctor Mid-Nite was among them (The Flash vol. 1 #137). He then returned to active duty in the JSA for several years. Aside from these duties, McNider's activism as a costumed adventurer seems to have taken a back seat to his medical duties. It is known that as he aged, his eyesight began to fail, and McNider seemed to become truly blind. A medical school comrade, Gordon Ogilvy, perfected a device that allowed the blind to see shadows in the dark, though little more. As an ophthalmologic researcher, McNider was able to use this technology to improve his ailing vision (DC Comics Presents #29). 

In the 1980s, Doctor Mid-Nite was rarely active, but it is known that he moved to Los Angeles to become private physician to Earth-2's second-generation super-team, Infinity Incorporated. One of his star pupils, Dr. Beth Chapel, was blinded during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, but later took up the  mantle of Mid-Nite as "Doctor Midnight" (Infinity Inc. #21). She maintains This role to this time. Whether the original Dr. Mid-Nite of Earth-2 remains active or is retired or deceased remains to be seen.

Multiversity

New Earth/Earth-0 = The history of Dr. Midnight, prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths, is though to be largely similar to his Earth-2 counterpart, minus the obvious encounters with characters without New Earth parallels. In the Earth-0 timeline, after the Crisis, McNider joined the rest of the Justice Society in Limbo (Last Days of the Justice Society #1). Upon his return from Limbo (Armageddon: Inferno #3), McNider resumed his practice and his role as a part-time member of the Justice Society (Justice Society of America 1-10, Justice League Europe #47-50). During the crisis known as Zero Hour, the Justice Society made one of the first assaults on Extant, a master of chronal energy. During this battle, Extant used his powers to undo the spells that had kept the JSA vigorous beyond their age. Almost immediately, Doctor Mid-Nite and Hourman engaged Extant in hand-to-hand combat and were aged even further. Hourman died almost instantly, and Mid-Nite suffered a heart attack from advanced old age. The JSA retreated and Mid-Nite and the other JSA members were rushed to the hospital (Zero Hour #3). Sandman and Wildcat recovered, but Mid-Nite died on the operating table (Zero Hour #2). He was later laid to rest alongside Hourman and the Atom in a memorial ceremony (Showcase '95 #1). Since Beth Chapel (Doctor Midnight) has been slain by Eclipso (Eclipso vol. 2 #13) leaving the mantle unfilled for a time.

Approximate 6-8 years ago, Portsmouth physician Pieter Cross was blinded in an altercation with criminals. When an owl disturbs his post-injury melancholy, he realizes that, like the golden age super-hero, he also can see in the dark, an advantage he turns to new career as a doctor who works at midnight, both ministering to the needs of the poor and downtrodden and opposing Portsmouth's criminal element (Dr. Mid-Nite LS). When the Justice Society eventually re-formed, he assumed a role as their physician and member where he has remained since.

Earth-9 = A Dr. Mid-Nite cloaked all in black appeared in the Seattle of Earth-9 shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis ended badly for the United States in 1962.  Nothing of his actions or current fate is known.

Earth-21 = The Dr. Mid-Nite of Earth-21 had by all accounts an essentially identical early history to his Earth-2 counterpart. Nothing is known of his later career after the dissolution of the JSA in 1951  (DC: The New Frontier LS).

Earth-22 = The history of the Dr. Mid-Nite of Earth-22 is largely similar to that of Earth-0. He was present at the battle with the Ultra-Humanite in 1950's but was quickly defeat by the removal of his goggles and blackout bomb. (The Golden Age LS). At some point after, McNider died and his spirit fused with the chemicals oh his blackout bombs, forming a living cloud. The cloud animated the cloak of his old costume, allowing him a role in 21st century super-heroics. Whether he survived the nuclear events at Kansas in that timeline is unknown  (Kingdom Come LS).

Earth-40 - Charles "Chaz" McNider of Earth-40 was born in 1900 and during the second world war, became a government agent known as The Owl. His primary partners were Bruce "The Bat" Wayne and Rex "The Clock" Tyler. A footloose womanizer, the McNider of Earth-40 was ultimately murdered by The Scarecrow, a Nazi Assassin "cleaner" in 1944 (JSA: The Liberty File).

Powers/Skills

Doctor Mid-Nite's only "power" was the ability to see in total darkness. In addition, Mid-Nite used a combination of athletic training and equipment designed to compensate for his principal liability, a lack of "day vision." This equipment included a specialized pair of goggles that gave him the ability to see during the day, and a variety of "blackout bombs" that created clouds of blackness in which only he could see. In recent years, Doctor Mid-Nite's vision had begun to fade, and the infra-red goggles were updated with technology designed by an old medical school colleague, Dr. Gordon Ogilvy.

Weaknesses/Limitations

Doctor Mid-Nite, like many of his comrades, relied on his equipment for his skills. Without it, he was merely mortal and blind besides.

Related Links

List of Appearances for the Golden Age Dr. Mid-Nite (Alphabetical)

List of Golden Age Appearances (Detailed, 1939-1955)

Golden Age Dr. Mid-Nite Merchandise/Memorabilia (Pics and Links)

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