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365 Reasons to Love Comics #85

Doctor Week, day two! Who’s the doctor du jour? Well, it’s not so much “jour” as “nuit.”

In comics, two major characteristics are associated with “Doctor” characters: The Golden Age and the occult. Today’s star is just the former.

3/26/07

85. Dr. Mid-Nite

Dr Mid-Nite 4.jpg

Dr. Mid-Nite is the best (and first!) blind superhero. Sure, Daredevil’s a lawyer, but Mid-Nite is an actual medical doctor, even though he can’t see. That takes a lot of skill.

There have been three Dr. Mid-Nites over the course of superhero history, but I’d have to say the first is my favorite. Dr. Charles McNider was a doctor blinded by a mobster (Killer Maroni. Any relation to Boss Maroni, the guy who scarred Two-Face? That’d be neat). He then discovered he could only see in perfect darkness, and so designed a visor and his handy blackout bombs to assist him in his new crimefighting career. He’s one of my favorite original JSA members (along with Sandman, Hourman, and the Atom). Back in the day, he was featured in All-American Comics, and later All-Star Comics, never getting the cover spot unless he was in the back of a group shot. He also appeared in All-Star Squadron but suffered the same fate. Finally, in the fantastic Strazewski/Parobeck Justice Society series, he got a cover of his own. Of course, they killed him off shortly after in Zero Hour. Bah.

Dr Mid-Nite 3.JPGDr Mid-Nite 1.jpg

Man, what a fun costume design, with the half-moon buttons and the vest and the random conglomeration of colors. At least Dr. Mid-Nite has an excuse for the gaudiness– he’s blind! Alan Scott is just fashion deficient. Even the blind guy dresses better than him. Heh.

McNider also had a pet owl, with the totally awesome name of Hooty. As far as animal sidekicks go, an owl is probably tops. Maybe Zabu or Beppo is cooler, but that’s about it.

The second Dr. Mid-Nite was actually Dr. Midnight, a young medical student of McNider’s named Beth Chapel who ended up with the same powers, joined Infinity Inc, and was killed off by Eclipso in the early 90′s. Shame she was never used to a fuller advantage.

The third (and current) Dr. Mid-Nite is Pieter Cross, a member of the current JSA and chief medical advisor of the entire superhero community, it seems. He uses all the same gimmicks of the original, but there’s a greater focus on his medical abilities. My favorite touch is his pet owl, named Charlie in honor of Dr. McNider. And he’s had a lot of covers to himself, making up the deficit from McNider’s run. Heck, he even had his own three issue mini, written by Matt Wagner, which served as his debut:

Dr Mid-Nite 7.jpgDr Mid-Nite 2.jpgDr Mid-Nite 6.jpgDr Mid-Nite 5.jpg

Mmm. Images.

Now, let’s talk concept. Dr. Mid-Nite is Batman if Bruce had followed in his father’s footsteps and become a doctor. I love it when medical doctors become superheroes, especially when their backgrounds and careers as physicians are not forgotten by the writers. I like that he’s blind but can still “see” simply through his medical skills. The goggles and the “can see in the dark” thing takes away from his triumph over his handicap, but it also makes him extremely unique, a hard feat to achieve back in the Golden Age superhero explosion. A series starring Mid-Nite would be a medical mystery noir! That’s a cool genre hybrid.

Hell, I love that he spells his name “Mid-Nite.” There’s some ’40s flavor for you.

Links!
Toonopedia.
Wikipedia.
Biography (McNider).
Biography (Cross).
JSA Member page.

There are so many great Doctors in comics that this theme might have to run slightly longer than intended. I’m trying to fold other really cool ones into other themes to come later in the year. We’ll see what happens in the end. As for next month, I have a very exciting plan. (Oh, yes. Now you’re scared.)

15 Comments

While I can agree that Dr. Mid-night is awesome, and Hooty doubly so, the best animal sidekick ever was Chubby Da Choona. No contest.

Great series! Keep ‘em coming!

(hmmm.. Dr. Fate or Dr. Strange.. which will he choose!?!)

I’m pleased you mentioned Dr. Midnight, though it’s a shame you didn’t include an image of her.

Actually, of the three incarnations of the character, she was definitely the weakest. Her costume design discarded the cape, and instead of crescent-moon buttons, a large crescent moon dominated her black-and-yellow togs. It was a poor design from the start (just as Hourman II’s original design was). If memory serves, both designs can be attributed to Todd McFarlane, the regular artist on Infinity Inc. at the time.

Nice one!
I’ve always loved the costume as well. and thanks for posting one of the great Parobeck covers from the unsung JSA series too, that made my day.

Oooo…I’m hoping for Dr. Demonicus next! *crosses fingers*

Scared? Hah! I’ve been reading this feature since…around mid-January sometime! I survived Joe Simon Week! I laugh in the face of scared!…

…mind you, I do admit to a teensy bit of concern over the April 1st entry. But that’s it, I swear.

The current Mid-Nite is one of the characters I would love to write. There’s just so much material to delve into there. And the fact that my mom works in the medical industry has always given me a fascination for the subject.

And yes, he does have a great costume.

Pretty interesting. I didn’t know the current Dr. Mid-Nite wasn’t the original. But if he can see in perfect darkness and he made goggles to simulate that, then he’s not really blind is he? By that logic, I know Daredevil really isn’t either, but still…it’s not a big character element.

Does he have a specialty in medicine, or is he just a general physician with extensive meta knowledge (the current Mid-Nite, that is)?

Is there a resource out there that compares the professionals in the Marvel and DC universes? That might be a fun project. Who’s the better…

Lawyer: Daredevil or Manhunter?
Doctor: Dr. Strange or Dr. Mid-Nite?
P.I.: Dakota North or Question?
Organized Crime Boss: Kingpin or Mannheim?
etc…

Thank you so much for including the Parobeck cover. It’s one of my very favorites (plus that issue straight up kicked ass!).

Doing a tribute to Marshall Rogers fits in for this week, too, what with his great run on Doc Strange, if you’re of the mind to do something like that.

Hooty isn’t totally useless. In the pre-JSA miniseries, Hooty got burned by radiation from some guy-turned-demon. Hourman fed Hooty a half of Miraclo…and the owl got buzzed, flew out, and went through the villains midsection, killing him almost instantly. I think this qualifies as “guy was dead the moment Stalker changed him” deal, but damn, that was badass.

So, who would have the advantage in a fight, Dr. Mid-Nite with his perfect dark vision or Daredevil with his radar vision?

Well, Mid-Nite’s vision is limited by line of sight, whereas DD’s radar vision is, I believe, a full-360 effect, so DD would have the slight edge there.

"O" the Humanatee!

March 27, 2007 at 8:25 am

You know what my problem with Dr. Mid-Nite is? I can’t read his name without immediately mentally placing it into J.J. Cale’s song “After Midnight” (best known in Eric Clapton’s version):

Dr. Mid-Nite
He’s gonna let it all hang down
(Dr. Mid-Nite, Dr. Mid-Nite)
Dr. Mid-Nite
He’s gonna chug-a-lug and shout
(Dr. Mid-Nite, Dr. Mid-Nite)
He’s gonna stimulate some action
He’s gonna get some satisfaction
He’s gonna find out what it’s all about

etc., etc.

That’s what my problem with Dr. Mid-Nite is. (And if I have done my work correctly, it is now your problem too.)

You know what my problem with Dr. Mid-Nite is? I can’t read his name without immediately mentally placing it into J.J. Cale’s song “After Midnight”

My problem is it’s not spelled “Midnight”.

The best comic book doctor ever.

Now to wait for Dr. Forklift.

I get Sand man. I like his pulp look(his second costume is horrible). I also thought the original Dr. Mid- Nite was kinda cool. BUT WTF, the original Atom! He sucked so bad.

He got knocked out all the time. He was a worst fighter then Good Ole Ted. His costume(save his cowl, and cape) was dumb. He was an awful idea. His gimmick isn’t that he’s a good fight but that he’s tiny(not even super tiny). I don’t care if they gave him a power afterwards…

Found this a little late while looking up Dr. Mid-Nite (yeah, love the spelling). As a hardcore Daredevil fan, I would say that DD would easily take Mid-Nite in a fight. What we have is a ninja with super-senses against a guy with goggles. Really there’s no doubt.

On the other hand, DD is also quite obviously the “blinder” of the two (which wouldn’t matter in a fight though). If my understanding of Dr. Mid-night is correct, his blindness goes away completely when he wears his special googles, right? With DD, you have the situation of having his radar restore some, but not all, functions of normal sight. The radar is 360 degrees so that’s a nice bonus, but he can’t see the way a normally sighted person would. Just go to the nearest bookstore and imagine having all color removed from everything you’re seeing. Now try to find your favorite book by touch alone, and you’ll see what I mean. The “Daredevil isn’t really blind” argument doesn’t actually hold up very well on closer examination.

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