February 5, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #115: Dr. Mid-Nite

A blind surgeon-turned-superhero, decades before Daredevil came along.

Last week, we looked at Hourman, a largely forgotten member of the Justice Society of America.

This week, we should take a look at his JSA teammate Dr. Mid-Nite.

Dr. Mid-Nite was, well, he actually was a doctor.  A surgeon in fact.  Dr. Charles McNider was called in to remove a bullet from a trial witness, and during the procedure, a mobster with a taste for overkill tossed a hand grenade into the room McNider was working on.  The grenade killed the patient and blinded the doctor.  Since this all happened in All-American Comics #25 in 1941, you might think that would be the end of things, or the actual hero would come to avenge his good buddy McNider, but that’s not what happened.

See, McNider’s blindness worked in a way that blindness never should.  While recovering, an owl burst through his window, and when McNider removed the bandages around his eyes, he discovered he could see perfectly…but only in absolute darkness.  Yes, he was blind but only if there was any light at all.  The darker it was, the more he could see.  Developing a pair of special goggles to allow him to see during the day and a colorful costume that, yeah, does look like a blind man might have designed it, McNider became Dr. Mid-Nite, and he even took the owl as a sidekick named Hooty.  He also developed something called a “blackout bomb” which was a fancy smoke bomb that plunged an area into darkness where only he could see a dang thing.

Much like Hourman, Dr. Mid-Nite was never successful enough to star in his own solo series.  He’d get back-up tales here and there, and eventually joined the Justice Society so DC Comics could give him more exposure.  But here we have a blind superhero that came along in 1941 as opposed to the better-known Daredevil who first premiered in 1964.

As it is, McNider is basically remembered as a member of the JSA.  He disappeared with them and returned at the same time.  He died in the same attack that nearly killed Hourman in Zero Hour, and he had a couple inspirations.

First was a woman named Beth Chapel.  She joined a second generation JSA called Infinity Inc., though she was no relation to McNider.

She was likewise killed by the supervillain Eclipso.

Then there was Pieter Cross.

That’s actually his picture at the top of the column for this week’s header.  I would have used Charles, but that one of Pieter is painted and awesome.

And there was even a version of the character that appeared on the TV show DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

What do all these characters have in common?  You know, aside from the name?  Well, they all had the superhero codename “Doctor” and were all actual medical doctors.  That’s a nice change of pace, and maybe if saving lives on the operating table isn’t enough, maybe a little nighttime strolling and crimefighting is more satisfying than golf.

Besides, you can also scold children not to be like Hitler.

Hey, kids: don’t be like Hitler.

You know, I think the Hitler thing is about the right point to end stuff this week.  Apparently, if you’re a blind superhero surgeon, that doesn’t mean you have an extensive history to chronicle.

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