The Brave and the Bold: Doctor Mid-Nite and the Guardian
Times Past, 1947
Shedding Some Light
Just how has Doctor Mid-Nite remained so young over the years like his fellow Justice Society members, even though he wasn’t with them during the 1941 Ian Karkull case, in which they gained extended youth? Find out in this untold tale in which the blind avenger and the Guardian team up against a bank robber wielding a light-gun, with explosive consequences!
Garfield Lynns was one happy man. Considering that the business suit-clad criminal was engaged in a duel with the police in front of one of Manhattan’s larger banks while wearing a gray mask over his face, things were going swell.
The novice bank robber, for this was was indeed Lynns’ first robbery, held his loot in one gray-gloved hand and fired blasts of machine-gun-like light bursts from a special gun of his own design. The police cowered behind their squad car as the dangerous light bursts exploded around them. No help of the costumed variety was in sight. Yes, Lynns was riding high.
As the self-proclaimed world’s foremost lighting-effects genius, Garfield Lynns’ work on the stage had consumed his life for the past two decades. While he had originally been satisfied with the critical acclaim that his lighting effects had brought him, he had grown increasingly bitter as he watched others profit from his genius, while he earned a meager salary for his efforts. His bitterness increased as he watched from backstage, night after night, the elite of Gotham City show up at his theatrical productions, flashing signs of wealth wherever they went. As far as he was concerned, he deserved such wealth far more than those talentless fops.
Thus, after years of planning, Lynns finally decided to use his unsurpassed knowledge of lighting-effects to pull off the perfect crime, by robbing a bank in New York City. Besides the arrival of the police, it couldn’t have gone more smoothly. But even the vaunted NYPD were no match for the advanced light-gun that Lynns had developed over the past few years. He would make his escape easily and return home to Gotham, where he could live the same life of luxury that wealthy playboys like Bruce Wayne enjoyed.
But then the Guardian showed up to spoil his fun.
Jim Harper, who was secretly the mystery-man known as the Guardian, was only visiting this part of New York City when the action broke out. As a police officer for over half a decade now, he was almost attuned to trouble. Having heard over the police band radio the trouble that this bank robber was giving them, he reached the scene in his patrolman’s uniform. The battle between the bank robber and the police was still raging, but it was fairly one-sided, since the police were helpless against this robber’s high-tech, light-based weapon; a special vertigo ray shot from his light-gun had already put two of them on their knees.
Taking a quick detour, Harper took off his uniform in a nearby alleyway and returned in the blue and gold costume of the Guardian. As the unofficial protector of New York’s poorest neighborhood, nicknamed Suicide Slum, he had been a well-known and well-loved (or feared) mystery-man since 1942. However, few outside of his neighborhood had heard of him, especially after he had retired from costumed crime-fighting last year. Jim Harper had originally become the Guardian to help out the Newsboy Legion, but the boys were quickly growing up and would be men soon. They had even started their first semester in college just last week. So it had been pure chance that Harper happened to have had his costume with him this day.
As the Guardian charged in behind his gleaming gold shield, Garfield Lynns’ gloating suddenly changed to dismay. “Who in the world–?!” he cried.
Grinning, the Guardian used his shield to deflect a blast of concentrated light that would in later decades be called a laser. As he closed in on the panic-stricken robber, the masked Lynns pushed yet another button on his light-gun. A huge, blinding flash was emitted.
Although the Guardian was momentarily blinded, he kept on charging, and sure enough, he soon brought down the now-screaming Lynns.
At the same time that the robber fell, a cop fired his gun, and the shot hit Lynns in the arm. The masked criminal screamed out again, this time in pain, and dropped the bag of money, which spilled out all over the floor. But his cry allowed the still-blinded Guardian to deliver a strong right hook.
Lynns fell down, holding his left arm. The pain was great enough to cause him to consider giving up, but he couldn’t stand the thought of going to jail after his very first major crime. He had deliberately avoided robbing a bank in Gotham City, because he didn’t want to get caught by Batman and Robin. But it seemed that these costumed freaks were everywhere. He could just picture being thrown into jail thanks to his carelessness, where he would be ruthlessly mocked by the other prisoners for his failure to profit at all from his one and only bank robbery.
“No!” shouted Lynns, firing his light-gun in his right hand, and the Guardian was struck by three odd light-bolts at once. The masked hero staggered back and then passed out.
The delighted Lynns blinded the cops with a strobe light, then raced down an alley in search of medical help, forced to leave the money on the floor behind him. Maybe the day wouldn’t turn to be a total loss, after all.
Myra Mason was typing up a report for her employer and friend, Dr. Charles McNider, when the office door burst open. A gray-masked man wearing a business suit with gray gloves and wielding a strange-looking weapon pushed his way in. The pretty blonde nurse had seen far more than her share of costumed creeps, but she still hesitated. Was this one a good guy or a villain? He looked like he was up to no good with that mask and weapon, but nearly a decade ago the police had originally mistaken the Sandman and the Crimson Avenger for criminals as well, and their original costumes were not unlike the one this man wore — a business suit with a mask and gloves, carrying a special gun.
The man’s actions quickly told her that this was no hero, as he grabbed her, wincing from the pain of his gunshot wound. “Fix this, girlie,” demanded Lynns, “or I’ll make you sorry!”
Long moments passed as Myra tried to push herself away from the masked intruder. She gasped as she saw that blood had dripped across her white nurse’s uniform. It was obviously the injured man’s blood, but it still startled her at first, given the situation.
After what seemed like an eternity to the nurse, the other office door swung open to reveal the red, green, and black costume of Doctor Mid-Nite. Myra Mason had long suspected her amorous prospect Dr. McNider was really the masked member of the Justice Society of America, but he had never seen fit to reveal that to her.
“It’s a good thing I happened to be visiting Dr. McNider,” said Mid-Nite as he approached the injured bank robber.
Yeah, sure, thought the mousy but pretty Myra, while aloud she cried out, “Doctor Mid-Nite!” in the approved, shocked manner she had perfected over the years.
“Yeesh! They’re around every corner of this town!” moaned a dejected Lynns.
“Just consider me your porch light!” quipped Doctor Mid-Nite as he passed Myra, who had by now safely backed into the corner.
Even amongst the mystery-man set, Doctor Mid-Nite was a very intelligent man. The first thing he did with his rapidly moving body was to grab the deadly light-gun from Lynns’ grip with his right hand while the robber was still in shock. Tossing it behind him, he tripped the masked criminal with one swinging leg to the office floor, hard, where he remained unmoving.
“Didn’t even harm this little beauty!” marveled Doctor Mid-Nite as he picked up a box from the desk and opened it. Inside this box was a device that he had been working on for a while now. It was just a crude-looking prototype for now, but its potential medical benefits were immense, since it could directly alter someone’s nervous system. That explained why he was so protective of it; if he lost the prototype, several months of research and development would be lost. Someday, Mid-Nite mused, he might even be able to miniaturize this device into a more portable form similar to the Sandman’s gas-gun, or Starman’s gravity rod. Thus his cryotuber, as he had begun to call it, would someday be quite effective in safely disabling a foe by directly altering his nervous system.
But the hero’s moment of distraction, as he ensured that the cryotuber remained unharmed, proved to be a mistake. Garfield Lynns, who had been playing possum, pretending to be unconscious, lashed out at the crime-fighter with a light-bolt from his left glove. Although Lynns had concentrated most of his tricks into his light-gun, he had realized that he might be disarmed at some point and built in a light-effect into each of his gloves, one of which he used now.
Doctor Mid-Nite, happening to notice the robber’s movement, reacted quickly. He dodged out of the path of the bolt, even as Myra ran forward. The light-bolt missed them both, but it shattered the falling cryotuber. That prototype device now shattered, surging energy into Doctor Mid-Nite, and then through him into a startled Myra Mason as she touched him. Their nervous systems flooded with powerful cryogenic energy, and they collapsed. Astonished at his luck, Lynns chuckled ruefully as he crawled to his feet, then walked over to the other side of the room to pick up his light-gun.
Before the masked bank robber could make good his escape, however, another masked figure burst through the doorway. It was the Guardian, positively gleaming in his blue and gold costume.
“I don’t believe this!” cried Lynns.
Despite having the light-gun in his hands once again, Lynns had little time to react except to flinch as the Guardian struck him with several fast blows, knocking him to the floor, which also sent his light-gun skittering to a far corner, where it made a cracking sound.
“Tracked you down, you sneaky rat!” said the Guardian of Suicide Slum. But as he looked over, he saw to his astonishment Doctor Mid-Nite and Myra Mason huddled on the floor. Thinking they might have been killed by the masked criminal, he quickly bent over their prone bodies and said, “Oh, no! Are you two hurt?”
Mid-Nite moaned and sat up slowly, and Myra also followed suit soon after. They both looked dazed, but otherwise unharmed.
Unfortunately, when the Guardian looked back over his shoulder, the bank robber was gone. The hero muttered a curse about making such a rookie mistake and ran back out the door, looking for any trace of the man. But he was nowhere in sight. The only thing left behind was the discarded and broken light-gun.
The Guardian quickly returned to Dr. McNider’s office to ensure that his fellow All-Star Squadron alumni was all right, then headed back out again to see if he could pick up on the robber’s trail. After assuring himself that Myra was unhurt from the blast, Doctor Mid-Nite made his own exit moments later to help in the manhunt.
But the masked criminal with the light-gun would not be found by either of those mystery-men this night. Despite his wounded left arm, Garfield Lynns had managed to make a clean getaway, and he would make it back to Gotham City that night without being found out. There, he would procure the services of a particular doctor he knew who had lost his medical license, but had his own private practice with a select clientele consisting solely of criminals. The wound in his arm would take several months to fully heal, but his wounded pride would take even longer. Lynns had lost all the money that he’d stolen, and he’d lost his invaluable light-gun as well.
Garfield Lynns vowed that, if he ever tried something like this again, he would remain in Gotham, which he was much more familiar with, and he would be better prepared. Yes, the next time he faced one of those costumed mystery-men, he would have a colorful costume of his own, including build-in weapons, so he couldn’t be easily disarmed. He just had to come up with the right inspiration. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Human Firefly,” Detective Comics #184 (June, 1952).]
Even decades after this event in 1947, Myra Mason and Dr. Charles McNider would show few, if any, signs of aging. The good doctor would rightly assume that the powerful energy that had come from the mixture of the odd light shot by the robber, and the explosion of the prototype cryotuber device, had affected their nervous systems permanently.
That would solve a mystery that had puzzled the other JSA members over the years. For it had amazingly given them the same extra years of youth and vitality that his allies in the Justice Society of America had received on the Ian Karkull case that had occurred before Doctor Mid-Nite had even joined the team. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Justice Society Adventure the World’s Not Ready to Learn About Yet,” All-Star Squadron Annual #3 (1984).]
In the 1950s, Doctor Mid-Nite would build another cryotuber device that he would first use after he and other Justice Society members came out of retirement in the 1960s. (*) Taking inspiration from the design of the unknown robber’s damaged light-gun, the new cryotuber would be in the form of a hand-held weapon that looked much like Garfield Lynns’ original light-gun, and it would be able to do more than the original device ever did. Until Mid-Nite’s forced retirement, however, he would abandon even his medical plans for the cryotuber, since he would come to the conclusion that altering anyone’s nervous system was too radical a step for a man of healing. Doctor Mid-Nite would stick to his ever-faithful blackout bombs, as well as his capable fists, for the foreseeable future.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Crisis Between Earth-One and Earth-Two,” Justice League of America #46 (August, 1966).]