Nite Owl

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Nite Owl
Nite Owl 01.jpg
Promotional art for Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #1.
Art by Andy Kubert and Joe Kubert.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceWatchmen #1 (1986)
Created byAlan Moore
Dave Gibbons
In-story information
Alter egoHollis T. Mason
Daniel Dreiberg
Team affiliations(Mason)
Silk Spectre II
Notable aliases(Dreiberg)
Sam Hollis
  • Physical strength and agility
  • Hand-to-hand combat
  • Crime investigation


  • Owl-themed weapons, gadgets and equipment
  • Hand-to-hand combat

Nite Owl is the name of two fictional superheroes in the comic book limited series Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and published by DC Comics. The duo are modified analogues of the first two Blue Beetle characters created for Fox Feature Syndicate and later sold to Charlton Comics. The second Nite Owl parodies the appearance of the iconic popular superhero Batman while the first parodies The Phantom. The second Nite Owl received a four-part miniseries as part of the Before Watchmen prequel franchise, and made it to number 115 on Wizard's Top 200 Comic Book Characters list.

The Daniel Dreiberg version of Nite Owl made his first live adaptation in the 2009 film Watchmen played by Patrick Wilson.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Hollis T. Mason[edit]

Hollis T. Mason was the first Nite Owl. At the age of 12, his father left the family farm in Montana and moved to New York City, working at Moe Vernon's Auto Repairs.

Starting out as a New York City policeman in 1938, he was inspired by Action Comics' Superman and the real life exploits of Hooded Justice to take up the life of a vigilante. He was nicknamed "Nite Owl" for spending his evenings working out in the Police Gymnasiums as much as possible and going to bed at 9:00pm to rise for a 5:00am workout before donning his badge and uniform. His costume was designed to free his arms and legs while protecting his chest, abdomen and head with a tough leather tunic. With the tunic hiding his hair, a domino mask concealed his identity.

He became a member of the Minutemen, a "masked adventurer" league in mid-1939. Mason was an "old school" crimefighter, a real "Boy Scout" in the eyes of Captain Metropolis. He stopped colorful criminals like the Screaming Skull and went on to fight supposed Axis operatives including Captain Axis during World War II. He retired in May, 1962 to open an auto business and write his memoir of his crime-fighting exploits, Under the Hood. By reading Under the Hood, Silk Spectre II later learned of the Comedian's attempted rape of her mother Silk Spectre I.

Soon after Hollis retired, Daniel Dreiberg sought him out and asked if he could use the name and persona of Nite Owl to fight crime. Mason acceded and Dreiberg became the second Nite Owl.

After Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II broke Rorschach out of prison on Halloween night, the Knot-Tops street gang became angered by what they perceived to be vigilantism. Under the influence of the drug KT-28, the Knot-tops believed Mason to be the same Nite Owl who participated in the prison break and decided to attack him. Mason mistook their pounding on his door for trick or treaters and opened the door to their attack. Mason put up a good fight, but the gang leader killed Mason by hitting him with the very statue of himself that was given to him by the city as an acknowledgment and reward for his service as a costumed adventurer. Dreiberg learned about Hollis's murder and vowed revenge on the gang. As Nite Owl, he beat up one of the Knot-Tops and threatened to kill him and the whole gang before Rorschach drew him away to continue the more important mission they were on. The entire gang eventually died at the hands of Ozymandias' monster.

After being forced to change their identities to avoid government persecution Dan and Laurie changed their names to Sam and Sandra with the married surname "Hollis" in tribute to Hollis Mason.

Daniel Dreiberg[edit]

Born on September 18, 1945, Daniel Dreiberg, a Batman-like figure, relied on both technical wizardry and tools as well as his skills as a fighter, which set him apart from his fellow costumed adventurers. All of his gadgets and costumes are based on an owl theme. He uses an owl-shaped flying vehicle nicknamed the "Owlship" or "Archie" (short for Archimedes, after Merlin's pet owl in T.H. White's novel The Once and Future King), equipped with a variety of offensive and defensive devices, such as flamethrowers and "screechers"—devices capable of producing a sharp screech-like sound.

Dreiberg (as Nite Owl) met fellow costumed adventurer Rorschach, who suggested they partner to take on organized crime. The two became, not only a team, but also best friends. He supported the idea of costumed vigilantes forming a group to fight crime strategically, but Rorschach and the Comedian rejected the idea. Having already come to understand that his expensive activities were too limited in scope to make any real difference, Dreiberg retired after the passing of the Keene Act on August 3, 1977. In 1985 (when the story takes place) he seemed to regret his decision to give up crime fighting, having no sense of personal fulfillment without it. Rorschach said regarding his retirement, "No staying power". Following the Keene Act, Dreiberg contributed scholarly articles to ornithological journals.

His owl-ship represents advancements in propulsion, nautical engineering, and aerodynamics that would have exceeded the level of technological innovation known at that time, suggesting that Dreiberg was a genius. As a costumed adventurer he would also have had access to fellow hero Doctor Manhattan's futuristically advanced level of nuclear technology.

Events of Watchmen[edit]

Dreiberg became romantically entangled with the second Silk Spectre, Laurie Juspeczyk, after she left Doctor Manhattan. He returned to vigilantism along with her following the murder of the Comedian. Their first foray was the successful rescue of the occupants of a burning building. The excitement of aiding the residents awakened Dreiberg's sexual feelings for Laurie and the two made passionate love following the rescue. They later broke Rorschach out of prison in an attempt to stop Ozymandias' scheme to "save the world from itself." Unfortunately, the freeing of Rorschach indirectly resulted in the brutal murder of Hollis Mason, which Dan learned of only when he and Rorschach interrogated suspects. Upon learning of Mason's death, Dreiberg became violent, attacking the informer and loudly swearing vengeance against Mason's killers with such ferocity that Rorschach, a notorious sociopathic killer, had to restrain him. In the end, Hollis' killers (the Knot-Tops) were killed along with half of New York City by Ozymandias' plot.

Dan and Rorschach traveled to Ozymandias' Antarctic fortress. They battled with and were swiftly defeated by Ozymandias, who revealed his plan to unleash a telepathic monstrosity on New York City that will release massive psychic waves that will kill half the city. Nite Owl expressed the desire to stop him and was told that it already happened. Millions were dead, and the world's nations agreed to work together to combat this new "extraterrestrial threat". Reluctantly, Dan and the recently arrived Dr. Manhattan and Laurie Juspeczyk agreed to keep this secret for the sake of world peace.

The morally absolute Rorschach left, attempting to take Dan's vehicle back to civilization to tell the world. Unseen by the others, Doctor Manhattan killed Rorschach to stop him. Dan and Laurie were offered hospitality by Ozymandias, which they accepted. Before leaving for another galaxy, Manhattan seemed satisfied and happy at the sight of Laurie now in a relationship with Dan.

In the conclusion of the story, having been assumed to be dead in the attack, they were seen in their new identities of Sam and Sandra Hollis (in homage to the late Mason), with dyed blonde hair. They traveled to California and made a brief visit to Laurie's mother Sally Jupiter, the former Silk Spectre, in which Laurie reconciles with her mother over the discovery that the Comedian was her father. They promised to visit again soon and left with the intent of continuing their adventures in crime-fighting.

Events of Doomsday Clock[edit]

Nite Owl and Silk Spectre have yet to appear but Ozymandias mentions that Nite-Owl is retired and had planned to bring Silk Spectre with him to Earth-0 to convince Doctor Manhattan but refused.

Other versions[edit]

Kingdom Come[edit]

Character differences in the script drafts of the film[edit]

In the 1989 Sam Hamm film draft script and the 2003 David Hayter film draft script the superhero name is Night Owl. Further, the characters that adopted the Nite Owl persona are combined into one character, and there is no showing or mention of Hollis Mason as the first Nite Owl. In the climax of the 2003 script Dreiberg kills Veidt after sleeping with Laurie while in Antarctica. In addition Dreiberg and Laurie have a child at the end of the story.[1][2]

In other media[edit]


Nite Owl appears in the Teen Titans Go! episode "Real Boy Adventures." During the "Real Real Boy" song performance, Nite Owl makes a cameo appearance in the crowd, singing along with Robin and Cyborg and standing beside John Stewart and Control Freak.


Nite Owl's costume as seen in the Watchmen film adaptation

Patrick Wilson portrayed the second Nite Owl, Dan Dreiberg, in the film.[3] Although not a comics fan, Wilson enjoyed Watchmen upon reading it and opted to gain weight for the part, rather than wear a fatsuit. Stephen McHattie portrayed the elder Nite Owl, Hollis Mason. Clint Carleton played the younger Mason in the Minutemen flashbacks. During several attempts to get Watchmen adapted as a film, Kevin Costner, Christopher Walken and Richard Gere were each considered for the part. John Cusack, who is an admitted fan of the graphic novel, expressed great interest in playing the role.[4] Although Wilson's role remained relatively faithful to his comics counterpart, the Nite Owl costume was radically changed, because Zack Snyder wanted him to look more intimidating.[citation needed] While he retains his night vision goggles, utility belt and thick cape from the comic, the brown spandex/leather bodysuit has been replaced with chain mail-type armor.

Motion comic[edit]

Nite Owl appears in the 2008 animated short film series Watchmen: Motion Comic where he, along with every other character in the series, is voiced by actor Tom Stechschulte.[5]

Video games[edit]

The 2009 video game series Watchmen: The End Is Nigh features Rorschach and Nite Owl II as the two playable characters. Patrick Wilson reprises the role of Nite Owl by providing the character's voice in the game. The game serves as a prequel to the Watchmen film, and follows the partnership of Rorschach and Nite Owl during their vigilante acts prior to the film's events.


  1. ^ Hamm, Sam. Watchmen Screenplay (1989) Archived 2008-12-29 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Hayter, David. WATCHMEN --3rd draft--. September 26, 2003. Accessed on December 8, 2008. 132.
  3. ^ "Watchmen Cast Confirmed!" on (July 26, 2007).
  4. ^ Shawn Adler (2007-06-13). "John Cusack Calls Hilary Duff 'A Revelation'; Has His Eye On Watchmen". MTV. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
  5. ^ ""Watchmen" (2008) TV Series". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 25, 2009.