Charles McNider as the original Doctor Mid-Nite, as he appeared on the cover of Smash Comics #1 (March 1999).
Art by Dave Johnson
|First appearance||All-American Comics #25 (April 1941)|
|Created by||Charles Reizenstein|
Stanley Josephs Aschmeier
|Alter ego||Dr. Charles McNider|
|Team affiliations||Justice Society of America|
Black Lantern Corps
|Notable aliases||Doctor Mid-Nite|
|Abilities||Perfect night vision|
Ability to see in the dark via infrared lenses
Brilliant doctor and mathematician
Gifted physician and author
Superb athlete and hand to hand combatant
Employs "blackout bombs"
Charles McNider (the original Doctor Mid-Nite and a bearer of the name Starman) is a fictional superhero in DC Comics. The character appeared for the first time in All-American Comics #25 (April 1941).
Like many Golden Age heroic characters, the original Doctor Mid-Nite appeared as a member of DC's Justice Society of America.
As a blind character, Doctor Mid-Nite is widely regarded as the first superhero in comics to exhibit a physical impairment, pre-dating the creation of Daredevil of Marvel Comics by more than twenty years.
Dr. Mid-Nite made his live appearance on the second season of DC's Legends of Tomorrow played by Kwesi Ameyaw. Doctor Mid-Nite appeared in the first episode of the first season of the DC Universe series Stargirl portrayed by Henry Thomas along with the rest of the JSA. Thomas also voiced the goggles that the new Dr. Mid-Nite Beth Chapel acquires.
Charles McNider is a surgeon who was called one night to remove a bullet from a witness set to testify against mobsters. A mobster named "Killer" Maroni threw a grenade into the room, killing the witness and blinding McNider, with the injury causing him to believe his career as a surgeon was over. One evening, as he was recovering, an owl crashed through his window. Removing the bandages covering his eyes, McNider discovered that he could still see, but only in perfect darkness. McNider developed a special visor allowing him to see in the light and "blackout bombs" capable of blocking out all light, becoming a costumed crime fighter. He adopted the owl, naming it 'Hooty', and it became his sidekick. Upon becoming Doctor Mid-Nite, his first outing had him bringing "Killer" Maroni to justice.
He later joined the Justice Society of America (JSA) and the All-Star Squadron. In 1942, McNider enlisted in the U.S. Medical Corps as a physician during World War II, rising to the rank of Captain.[volume & issue needed] Ten years after his debut, McNider briefly assumed the role of Starman after the JSA disbanded when Ted Knight, the original Starman, suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of his participation in the development of the atomic bomb.
According to Jess Nevins' Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes, "his opponents include the minstrel the Baleful Banshee, the hypnosis-wielding Doctor Light, the angling-themed Fisherman, and the gang lord Tarantula".
McNider suffered a devastating event in 1953, when the woman he loved, Myra Mason, was murdered by the Shadower, a foe who had learned Doctor Mid-Nite's secret identity. McNider's later romantic history is unrevealed, but another "old friend" of McNider, Miss Alice King, made an appearance in All-American Comics #90 (October 1947). McNider apparently had no children, but at one point McNider rescued a pregnant woman from attack in Sogndal, Norway and delivered her baby, Pieter Cross, who later became the third Doctor Mid-Nite. McNider was also one of the JSA members captured and placed in suspended animation by the Immortal villain Vandal Savage, before being freed by the Flash.
Charles McNider eventually met his end as one of the casualties of Zero Hour, when he and fellow JSA member Hourman were aged to death by Extant. He was briefly reanimated as a member of the Black Lantern Corps during the Blackest Night event, only to be destroyed by Mr. Terrific.
McNider possesses the metahuman ability to see perfectly in the dark. Utilizing special infrared lenses, McNider can see in light; later in his life, his lenses become more ineffective as his eyesight continues to deteriorate even further, inhibiting his daylight vision. McNider also employs "blackout bombs" which release pitch-black gas that blinds villains yet allowing McNider to see. For a time, he used a weapon called a "cryotuber" which can either control the nervous system of an opponent or fire bursts of heat or cold. He is also a brilliant doctor and a mathematician. In All-Star Comics #13, he is able to communicate with a Neptunian using mathematical equations. As Starman, McNider uses various star-themed gadgets, including an airship designed by the Red Torpedo. McNider is also a superb athlete and fighter, as well as a gifted physician and author.
In Kingdom Come, Alex Ross portrays Doctor Mid-Nite (known here simply as Midnight) as a disembodied cowl amid thick black smoke reminiscent of his "blackout bombs". The wraith is said to be the vengeful spirit of Dr. Charles McNider.
Another version of the character was shown in Dan Jolley and Tony Harris' JSA: The Liberty File as a World War II-era United States intelligence agent code-named the Owl. This character, though presented as a rich playboy, resembles other versions of Doctor Mid-Nite. Though derided for his dalliances with the ladies, McNider was trusted as a valued field operative.
In the Elseworlds novel Batman: Holy Terror - set in a world where Oliver Cromwell lived long enough to extend his rule to America, which is now run by a corrupt theocracy - Doctor Charles McNider was a friend of Thomas and Martha Wayne before their deaths, losing his eyes and his wife for his defiance of the state. When Bruce comes to visit him, he warns Bruce against fighting the system, but also confirms that the Waynes were killed by the ruling Privy Council for providing medical services to those the council has deemed undesirable, such as Jews or homosexuals.
Charles McNider appears in the prequel comic to Injustice 2. Charles isolated himself from society on Longyearbyen in Norway's Svalbard Archipelago, with only Ted Grant knowing of his location. Ted brings Batman to Charles' location as Bruce needs Doctor Mid-Nite's help to perform an open heart surgery on Superboy by transplanting the deceased General Zod's heart into the Kryptonian's body.
The original Dr. Mid-Nite (Charles McNider) is one of seven JSA-related heroes whose solo appearances are collected in an anthology entry in the DC Archive Editions series:
|JSA All-Stars Archives Vol. 1 HC (2007)||All-American Comics (1939 series) #25-29|