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Cover to JSA: All-Stars #6. Art by John Cassaday and Mark Lewis.
All-American Comics #25 (April 1941)
Infinity Inc. #19 (October 1985)
As Doctor Midnight:
Infinity Inc. (vol. 1) #21 (December 1985)
Doctor Mid-Nite #1 (September 1999)
Stanley Josephs Aschmeier
John K. Snyder
|Alter ego||-Dr. Charles McNider
-Dr. Elizabeth Chapel
-Dr. Pieter Anton Cross
|Team affiliations||(McNider, Cross)
Justice Society of America
U.S. Medical Corps
Black Lantern Corps
Perfect night vision
Ability to see in the light via infrared lenses
Brilliant doctor and mathematician
Gifted physician and author
Superb athlete and hand to hand combatant
Employs "blackout bombs"
Great physician and scientist
Employs special ultrasonic lenses and "blackout bombs"
Doctor Mid-Nite (also Doctor Midnight) is a fictional superhero physician in DC Comics. The figure has been represented in the comics by three different individuals, Charles McNider, Beth Chapel, and Pieter Anton Cross. Dr. Mid-Nite was originally created by writer Charles Reizenstein and artist Stanley Josephs Aschmeier in 1941. The hero, represented first by Charles McNider, 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. His two successors were also represented as members of the group or an offshoot. Doctor Mid-Nite has never appeared as the solo protagonist of a regular title magazine, but the figure has been the subject of an anthology and a mini-series.
All three versions of Doctor Mid-Nite have exhibited the same basic features: a cowled costume featuring a crescent moon symbol, keen ability to see in the darkness at the cost of near or total blindness in sunlight, the use of special visors and “blackout” smoke bombs to gain tactical advantage in combat, a high degree of skill in martial arts, and jobs as physicians serving both normal human beings and "metahuman" superheroes. Additionally, two of the doctors have been accompanied by sidekick owls.
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 by more than twenty years.
Fictional character biographies
The following biographies are presented "in universe."
Charles McNider, a surgeon, was called one night to remove a bullet from a witness set to testify against mobsters. A mobster 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." 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.
McNider suffered a devastating event in 1953, when the girl 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 Barry Allen 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.
As the aging McNider spent less time in action, Beth Chapel, a medical doctor, stepped into the role of Doctor Midnight. Beth Chapel was a native of Orangeburg, South Carolina, with a pastor father, a mother who sang in the church choir, and four brothers. Chapel first appeared when Jade of Infinity, Inc. was rushed to her hospital for treatment after encountering Mister Bones' cyanide touch. During the onset of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Beth was blinded by an oxygen explosion, only to be rescued by Hourman's son Rick Tyler, who had taken McNider's drug that enhances ability to see in the dark. Beth used the formula to similarly treat her blindness, and she and Rick assume the mantles of their predecessors as Doctor Midnight and Hourman, with her mother crafting a super hero costume from a choir robe. Along with a new Wildcat, Chapel and Tyler applied for membership in Infinity, Inc, eventually gaining admission; however, the association was short-lived, as Infinity, Inc. disbanded shortly thereafter, though Chapel and Tyler began a romantic relationship during their tenure.
Doctor Midnight and Wildcat were subsequently recruited by the U.S. government for a mission to defeat the supervillain Eclipso, only for Chapel to die on the mission along with Wildcat, the Creeper, Commander Steel, Peacemaker, and Major Victory.
Cross is the Norwegian-born son of a noted scientist, the late Theodoric Cross. Pieter was delivered as a baby by the original Doctor Mid-Nite, Charles McNider, who had just rescued his mother from vagrants. As an adult Pieter is later unable to save his mother from Chagas disease, which she catches in Brazil while visiting him. Cross otherwise has no known relatives.
Cross's crime-fighting career begins as he runs a free clinic in Portsmouth, Washington. His work leads him to investigate a new street drug called A39, an accidental derivative of the steroid-like Venom. The drug, he soon learns, is produced by an evil corporation named Praeda Industries, run by the Terrible Trio (former foes of the Batman). Cross is drugged by company enforcers and soon involved in a car accident. The accident takes the life of a young woman named Katherine Blythe. After the accident, he finds that he can only see in pitch darkness via infrared vision (he can also employ ultrasonic vision). He takes the name Doctor Mid-Nite and resolves to fight crime. Cross joins the newest incarnation of the Justice Society of America, and enjoys a brief romance with teammate Black Canary.
Cross is usually portrayed as being a physician first and vigilante second. Scanners in his cowl-lenses identify health risks as well as threats. He is a vegetarian and practices yoga (JSA). Cross carries high-tech medical equipment in addition to weapons (including blackout bombs). Some individuals whom Cross assists eventually come to aid him in his work as both crime fighter and community surgeon. Allies gained in this way include reformed street kids "Nite Lite" and "Ice Sickle" and writer Camilla Marlowe. (Ice Sickle is later killed by the vengeful Spirit King.) Dr. Mid-Nite also serves as a wise and kind mentor to young Jaime Reyes, the latest Blue Beetle.
Cross's Doctor Mid-Nite is one of the most prominent physicians in the DCU. He and his JSA colleague Mr. Terrific function as "go-to" scientists for the superhero set. Among Cross' notable achievements: the discovery that Alan Scott is composed of the green flame of the Starheart; conducting tests and annual checkups for Power Girl; emergency surgery on Hourman; removal of the Brainiac virus from Oracle; the autopsy of Sue Dibny (Identity Crisis); removing the sniper bullet that wounds Lois Lane in Umec (Battery story arc in Adventures of Superman); conducting DNA tests on Terra (Terra #3, 2009).
Cross is also called upon by medical agencies such as S.T.A.R. Labs during unusual cases. At one point he is called by S.T.A.R. to investigate the reappearance of Delores Winters, the first host for the Ultra-Humanite. Winters now steals the body parts of metahumans and calls herself Endless Winter. Doctor Mid-Nite puts an end to the thievery and helps restore the health of her victims. (JSA: Classified #19-20, 2007)
The Batman conducts covert research on Cross's abilities and concludes that the full extent of his enhanced vision has not yet been reached (JSA 31). The Batman has apparently not revealed this information to Cross.
When the Justice Society encounter Gog, last survivor of the Third World, the benevolent being restores Pieter's vision. Although initially a blessing, this later works to Pieter's disadvantage in the field, as he is no longer able to see through his own dark bombs, and the loss of his infrared vision prevents him from saving a mortally-wounded Lance as well as leaving him feeling challenged when trying to perform even normal operations. Eventually, the full JSA mount an all-out assault on Gog, having learned from Sandman that Gog is rooting himself into the Earth, and if he remains for one more day, the Earth will die if he ever leaves, leaving them with the one option of killing Gog and separating his head from the Earth, which is the only way to save the planet. The other society members following Gog attempt to protect him, until they see him attempt to attack a society member. All of the followers take up the fight, and Gog punishes them all by taking away his blessings, including Dr. Mid-Nite's sight.
After being contacted by current Teen Titan leader Beast Boy, Dr. Mid-Nite is called in to help Raven when she is attacked and possessed by an unknown demonic entity. Appearing in Titans Tower via hologram technology, Dr. Mid-Nite and Static are successfully able to drive the demon from Raven's body.
Owls of Doctor Mid-Nite
Both Charles McNider and Pieter Anton Cross train owls as sidekicks.
McNider trains the same owl which crashes through his window, an event that leads to the discovery of his powers. This owl, named "Hooty" (sometimes "Hootie"), shares many adventures during the Golden Age.
Cross keeps company with an owl named "Charlie". The bird is named after the original Doctor Mid-Nite, Charles McNider. Charlie keeps a mini-camera around his neck that can feed video directly to a display in Cross's goggles.
Powers, equipment, and abilities
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 even as it allow 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 1965, DC Comics had no plans to revive Doctor Mid-Nite. DC editor Julius Schwartz gave M.I.T. student and comic book letterhack Rick Norwood permission to publish a Dr. Midnight story in his fanzine, Five. The story written by Norwood and illustrated by Steve Sabo features a doctor named Tom Benson who is blinded in battle. He discovers that his other senses are super-sensitive and dons the Doctor Midnight costume to fight crime.
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 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 United States intelligence agent code-named the Owl. This character, though a playboy, resembles other Doctor Mid-Nite representations. 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 longer and America is 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 privy council for providing medical services to those the council has deemed undesirable, such as Jews or homosexuals.
In the Tangent: Superman's Reign series, a version of Doctor Mid-Nite his body completely covered by a black cloak is briefly seen.
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|
The introductory mini-series of the modern Dr. Mid-Nite (Pieter Cross) has been collected in a trade paperback.
|Doctor Mid-Nite TPB (2000)||Doctor Mid-Nite #1-3||Matt Wagner, John K. Snyder III||ISBN 1-56389-607-9|
In other media
In The CW series Legends of Tomorrow, Dr. Mid-Nite's blackout bombs appear in Rip Hunter's office. The character appears in the second season as a member of the JSA, portrayed by Kwesi Ameyaw. This version is blind, but possesses the metahuman ability to see perfectly in the dark. According to his former teammate Obsidian, he's presumed dead after going missing on a mission in 1956 with the rest of their team who went. However, it is revealed to the audience and Legends that he was placed in the distant future of 3000, where he used the futuristic tech to restore his eyesight. He is murdered by a brainwashed Rip Hunter sometime later.
- Doctor Mid-Nite makes several brief appearances without dialogue in Justice League Unlimited, most notably in the episodes "Dark Heart", "Divided We Fall", and "Destroyer" (where he's highlighted along with fellow JSA members Doctor Fate, Hourman, and Wildcat).
- Doctor Mid-Nite appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episodes "The Golden Age of Justice" and "Crisis 23,000 Miles Above the Earth", voiced by Corey Burton. He is shown as a member of the Justice Society of America and the team's resident doctor.
- Doctor Mid-Nite also appears in the Smallville episode "Absolute Justice", not in person but in the painting showing the roster of the Justice Society of America.
- In the Young Justice episode "Coldhearted," Pieter Cross (voiced by Bruce Greenwood) appears as a surgeon who performs a heart transplant on Count Vertigo's niece Perdita. He is never named onscreen, but is identified in the credits. He later appears in the second season episode "True Colors" assisting Ray Palmer and Bumblebee in attempting to remove the Blue Beetle scarab from Jaime Reyes following the discovery of its connection to the Reach.
- Doctor Mid-Nite appears in Mad. In a musical segment, Doctor Mid-Nite joins the other superheroes into asking Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman about being called "Super Friends." Doctor Mid-Nite's part has him mentioning how he once asked Batman to take him to the airport, but Batman answered that it was "best to take a cab."
- Dr. Mid-Nite was featured as an action figure in the twelfth wave of the DC Universe Classics line. His accessory was his owl, Hooty, who rested on his arm.
- Mattel released an action figure of the Justice League Unlimited version of Dr. Mid-Nite in its DC Universe: Justice League Unlimited Fan Collection line in November 2011.
- DC Direct released two action figures of Dr. Mid-Nite (Charles McNider and Peter Cross). The Charles McNider version was released in 2001 and had exchangeable right wrists. One wrist came with Dr. Mid-Nite's pet owl, Hooty.
- Greenberger, Robert (2008), "Doctor Mid-Nite I & II", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 104, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- All-Star Comics #11 (June–July 2012)
- Starman (vol. 2) #77
- Greenberger, Robert (2008), "Extant", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 117, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- Blackest Night #4
- Blackest Night: JSA #1–3 (February–April 2010)
- Infinity Inc. #21
- Eclipso #13
- JSA #11
- JSA #60
- Blue Beetle - Boundaries (2009) - ISBN 978-1-4012-2162-1
- Birds of Prey #85
- Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #17
- Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #18
- Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #21
- Teen Titans (vol. 3) #75
- Justice Society of America Annual #1
- Injustice 2 #40
- Bucksbaum, Sydney (July 23, 2016). "Comic-Con: 'Legends of Tomorrow' to Tackle Legion of Doom Villain Team In Season 2". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
- Byrne, Craig (September 29, 2016). "Commander Steel, Obsidian, Dr. Mid-Nite, Vixen & Stargirl In New "Justice Society of America" Photos". DCLegendsTV. Retrieved September 30, 2016.
- St-Louis, Hervé. "Golden Age Dr. Mid-Nite Action Figure". ComicBookBin.com. Retrieved 17 October 2016.