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|First comic appearance||Adventure Comics #48 (March 1940)|
Ken Fitch (writer)|
Bernard Baily (artist)
|Full name||Rex Tyler|
Hourman (spelled Hour-Man in his earliest appearances, also referred to as the Hour-Man, and the Hourman) is the name of three different fictional superheroes appearing in comics published by DC Comics. The original Hourman was created by writer Ken Fitch and artist Bernard Baily in Adventure Comics #48 (April 1940), during the Golden Age of Comic Books.
Fictional character biography
Scientist Rex Tyler, raised in upstate New York, developed an affinity for chemistry, particularly biochemistry. Working his way through college, he landed a job researching vitamins and hormone supplements at Bannermain Chemical. A series of discoveries and accidents led him to the "miraculous vitamin" Miraclo. He found that concentrated doses of the "miraclo" given to test mice increased their strength and vitality several times that of normal. After taking a dose himself, Rex found he could have superhuman strength and speed for the hour that the vitamin's effects lasted, before returning to human levels.
Keeping the discovery of Miraclo a secret, Tyler decided that human trials would be limited to the only subject he could trust: himself. Feeling that the Miraclo-induced abilities should be used for good purposes, he decided to use the abilities to help those in need; in other words, he would become a superhero, based in Appleton City. He received his first mission by placing an ad stating that "The Man of The Hour" would help the needy. Tracking down one responder to the ad, he aided a housewife whose husband was falling in with the wrong crowd, and stopped a robbery. Using a costume he found in an abandoned costume shop, he started to adventure as The Hour-Man (later dropping the hyphen). In November 1940 Hourman became one of the founding members of the first superhero team, the Justice Society of America. After leaving the JSA in mid-1941 Tyler became one of Uncle Sam's initial group of Freedom Fighters. He later became part of the wartime All-Star Squadron.
Hourman was one of many heroes whose popularity began to decline in the post-war years. Eventually, his adventures ended. However, with the resurgence of super-heroes in the mid-1950s and early 1960s, interest in the Golden Age heroes returned, and Hourman was soon appearing as a guest star in issues of Justice League of America. Like all the other Golden Agers, he was now considered an elder statesman of the super-hero set.
Unlike some other Golden Age heroes, his character would continue to grow more and more complex. The idea that Miraclo was addictive, combined with the suggestion that Tyler himself was addicted to crime fighting, made Hourman one of the superhero world's first cautionary tales. Rex would continue to fight both of his addictions throughout the rest of his appearances. His character was seemingly killed off along with other Golden Age heroes fighting a time-traveling villain named Extant, during the Zero Hour crisis, when Extant increased Rex's temporal rate to age him to death. He was rescued from that fate by the third Hourman and put in a pocket dimension called the Timepoint. Rex would remain there for one hour, but that time would only pass when he was visited by his son, after which Rex would have to return to the confrontation with Extant so that history would unfold as it had. However, when Rick was wounded in a fight with Nemesis, he transferred himself to the Timepoint. Rex was sent back in the role of Hourman until the android Hourman returned to take the JSA to the Timepoint and retrieve Rick. When the Timepoint ended just as Rick's injuries had been treated, Rick and Rex fought to try and return to Zero Hour, but the android Hourman took his place in that battle. Rex now lives in semi-retirement with his wife Wendi, noting that he intended to rebuild his relationship with Wendi and also work on reconstructing the android Hourman based on his remaining pieces. Rex has his old Hourman costume, and a bowl full of Miraclo inside a secret compartment of the grandfather clock in his bedroom which opens when both hands are turned to 12.
Due to the addictive nature of Miraclo (he later invented a non-addictive formula), the way that Hourman accessed his powers changed somewhat over the years. At one point in his career, he would use a black light lantern (similar to the Golden Age Green Lantern) that would activate a residue of Miraclo still in his body. Later, in JSA (Vol 2), Johnny Quick theorized that his power stemmed from Rex's metagene, and that his powers could be accessed without the need for Miraclo. Rex used the mantra "Man of the Hour" taught to him by Quick (who used a similar mantra to access his own powers) to gain his strength and speed, though they were still limited to one hour's time.
Rex later provides technical support for the new JSA All-Stars team, of whom his son was a member, helping them put together their new headquarters. He is enjoying a semi-retirement with his wife, Wendi.
Rick Tyler, Rex's son, took over the Hourman mantle during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Rick swallowed some of his father's Miraclo pills to help him save people trapped in a burning hospital. After serving for a few years as a member of Infinity, Inc., a team composed largely of other JSA-member children, Rick began to grow addicted to Miraclo just as his father did. He spent many years after leaving the group critically ill until Amazo, posing as a future incarnation of the android Hourman, cured him of his Miraclo addiction. Having conquered his personal demons and regaining his health, Rick joined the JSA in its incarnation as a small band of freedom fighters during the "Stealing Thunder" arc. The android had given him an hourglass full of tachyons that gave Rick random visions one hour into the future. As a second gift, Rick could visit with his father in an otherworldly dimension called the Timepoint, frozen in time, just before Rex's death. At one point, Rick is severely injured in battle, and switched places with his father to save his life. Tyler, the android known as the third Hourman, took Rex and some other JSA members to the Timepoint to save Rick's life. The one hour Rex was allotted in the Timepoint expired just as Doctor Mid-Nite and Tyler had healed Rick of his injuries. Father and son fought over who would perish in the battle with Extant. Ultimately, Tyler the android took Rex's place and was destroyed when Rick and Rex returned to Earth. Rick is once again active as Hourman and is an active member of the JSA. He is married to Jesse Chambers.
In the 853rd century another Hourman, an android that was modeled on Rex Tyler's DNA, served with both the Justice League and the Justice Society for a time. He often perceived himself as Rex and also as Rex's descendant. Originally possessing the time-manipulating cosmic artifact known as the Worlogog, he divested himself of most of its power at the suggestion of Snapper Carr and went about learning to be human. After failing to stop Extant from escaping a fight, Hourman quit the JSA and began travelling through the timestream, returning when he received a distress call from the JSA. As noted above, he is believed to have been destroyed at the hands of Extant in Rex's place, although the time-traveler Rip Hunter mentioned that his actions would leave him inactive for a relative year, indicating his probable return. Before he died, the android also gave his hourglass to Rex Tyler, who hopes to rebuild him. The android briefly used the alias Matthew Tyler and was often simply called Tyler.
Powers and abilities
Neither Rex nor Rick have any innate powers (though it was once theorized that their powers derive from a metagene, like many DC superheroes). Any superhuman abilities they display are derived from the use of Miraclo. Taking Miraclo grants a user several abilities for the span of an hour. Most obvious are the superhuman strength, durability, increased resistance to physical damage (to the extent of being impervious to small arms fire) and speed enhancements. Other, lesser known and mentioned powers include night vision and the ability to survive underwater. Rex and Rick both took Miraclo in pill form, but Rick later changed to using a transdermal patch.
The amount of Miraclo that can be taken per day has varied. Normally, it is once a day, but in some instances, Rex has been shown taking another pill as soon as an "Hour of Power" runs out. One story states that Rex needed to wait another hour after the Miraclo wore off before taking another dose. Miraclo works specifically on the Tylers and may or may not work on others who take it. In one instance it worked on an animal, Dr. Mid-Nite's owl Hootie, as well as the villain Bane.
Rex and Rick both wore an hourglass around their necks given to them by the Hourman Android. It was filled with energized tachyons, time in its most basic form. It gives Rick "time vision," flashes of events that will happen exactly one hour later as well as the ability to touch those out of phase with normal time. The latter effect comes to anyone holding the hourglass. Rex displayed neither of these abilities.
"Tyler" is often simply called an android, but is actually an intelligent machine colony (possibly a form of nanotechnology) created by Tylerco in the far future. If damaged, this colony can effortlessly multiply and repair. His software is encoded with the genetics of Rex Tyler, giving him all of Rex's memories. He originally possessed the Worlogog, which gave him complete control over time. He later gave all but a shard of it up, but not before he absorbed all of Batman's memories of the JLA.
Though not as powerful as he was originally, Tyler still retained super strength, durability, and speed equivalent to a person using Miraclo. He was able to access an "Hour of Power," sixty minutes during which he had power over time. He can do many things with this control: move between picoseconds, travel though time, use his own time vision (which allows him to see a person's past and future, as well as their age) or make people and things younger, slow a person down until essentially frozen, create tunnels between different time periods, and share power with other individuals (though the amount of time that he provides them power for directly takes away from his sixty minutes). Tyler activates the Hour of Power at will and the hourglass on his chest keeps count of the time. There seems to be some doubt how often he can use his Hour of Power. Like the other Hourmans' use of Miraclo, sometimes Tyler is said to only have one Hour of Power a day, while at other times he simply must wait another hour to recharge before he can reactivate, and it is unclear if he must use that Hour of Power in one go or if he can spread it out over the course of the day.
Tyler also has a timeship that he can summon from the timestream. It is connected to him and reacts to his thoughts. It normally appears as a Viking-style wooden sailing ship adorned with clocks, but it can change form as Tyler dictates to anything from a simple wooden skiff to a futuristic spaceship and also be used as a weapon, as when Hourman made a large hand out of it to trap Extant. The ship can travel through time, to alternate timelines, or through hypertime.
In other media
- The Rick Tyler version of Hourman appears as a member of the Justice League in Justice League Unlimited. In the episode "Panic in the Sky", he can be seen injecting Miraclo via a button on the wrist of his gauntlet, the same way Rick does in the comics.
- The Rex Tyler version of Hourman appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Golden Age of Justice" voiced by Lex Lang. This version uses an hourglass shaped device to fuel his powers instead of Miraclo. He appears as a member of an aged Justice Society.
- The Rex Tyler version of Hourman appeared in the Robot Chicken episode "Tapping a Hero" voiced by Seth Green. He was promoting an erectile dysfunction pill guaranteed to make "you an hour-man, just like me! (If you become four-hourman, see a doctor)"
- In November 2013, a live action Hourman series was revealed to be in development at The CW. Michael Caleo was writing the script, to executive produce the series alongside Dan Lin, and Jennifer Gwartz. The premise of the series "centers on a brilliant-yet-troubled pharmaceutical analyst who discovers that the visions that have plagued him since childhood are actually glimpses of tragic events occurring one hour in the future. Determined to win back his ex-wife and son, he heroically prevents these tragedies from unfolding, finding both purpose and redemption along the way". As of 2018, no progress on the series was made after its announcement.
- The Rex Tyler version of Hourman appears in Legends of Tomorrow, portrayed by Patrick J. Adams. He was introduced at the end of the first season. He is the leader of the Justice Society of America. He appears in the final scene, where he warns the team not to board the Waverider, due to their impending deaths, and warns them not to travel to 1942, only to vanish shortly afterwards. The Legends subsequently meet Tyler's past self when they do travel back to 1942. Rex Tyler was killed by the Reverse-Flash at the end of the episode, "The Justice Society of America", as he found out Reverse-Flash's plan in the future, causing his future self who warned the Legends to be erased from existence. Before his death, Rex was shown to be in a relationship with Amaya Jiwe, the 1940s-era Vixen.
- In Justice League: The New Frontier, Superman briefly mentions to Wonder Woman that Hourman is dead; Superman was probably referring to the Rex Tyler version. Hourman is also seen in the opening credits of the film, which show how he dies (being chased by police officers on the rooftops, due to the ban of the vigilantes, and he falls to his death). In the original comic of New Frontier, it is revealed that Hourman is alive and held by the government; this sequence is not in the adaptation.
- Gardner F. Fox (w), Bernard Baily (a). Adventure Comics 53: 1 (August 1940), DC Comics
- Gardner F. Fox (w), Bernard Baily (a). Adventure Comics 48: 1-6 (March 1940), DC Comics
- Greenberger, Robert (2008). "Freedom Fighters". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 131. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. OCLC 213309017.
- Greenberger, Robert (2008). "Extant". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 117. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. OCLC 213309017.
- JSA All-Stars #1 (Feb. 2010)
- Goldberg, Natalie (November 5, 2013). "The CW Developing Drama Based on DC Comics Hero 'Hourman'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 19, 2016.
- Abrams, Natalie (May 19, 2016). "Legends of Tomorrow to introduce Justice Society of America in season 2". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 19, 2016.