It’s funny how something like a newspaper article could affect different people in so many different ways. Or how it could create a similar response in widely different people. Take as an example the small photo and announcement of the impending wedding of Myra Mason Martin to Dr. Charles McNider. The photo of the lovely, young-looking blonde and her dignified, yet smiling husband-to-be created three very different emotional responses in three readers.
In Gotham City, an angry, guttural growl or howl of rage came from a throat that was not human. “It can’t be!” he roared as shifty-looking gangsters ran into the room. “That bum ain’t gonna marry my Myra! I’ll rub him out! Yeah, I’ll have the boys take care of him for good!”
In a different locale, a sick old man blinked and said, “This McNider punk was the one who started my troubles, and yet he is not much older than he was back then! He and Mid-Nite ruined me, but it’s not too late for me to pay ’em back!”
His family listened, and a grandson nodded. “I’ll get him for ya,” he vowed to his grandfather. “I know a guy who can take both of ’em down!”
The old man smiled bitterly from his hospital bed.
A young woman read of the wedding, although she had been informed of the blessed ceremony by the couple themselves before it appeared.
“It isn’t right!” she yelled. “I should be his bride, not Myra. Not a Barbie-doll nurse! He favors her and that insipid Beth Chapel, and even that med student Cross, but never me — his intellectual soulmate!”
Her name was Dr. Louisa Soliz, and she was a woman scorned; this made her dangerous. She had also learned the secret of Charles McNider after watching and working with him at her free clinic. She knew that he could see, under the right conditions, and what was worse, she knew he was Doctor Mid-Nite. That made her deadly.
Dr. Charles McNider himself was a man in pain as he sighed at his foe. “Myra, do I have to pose for one more engagement photo? I’m worn out!”
The pretty blonde smiled. “You hate having your picture taken,” she said. “I guess this album will be enough. I know you need to go play with your little friends!”
He smiled and led a waiting Rex Tyler and Wes Dodds into his lab. “I can’t thank the two of you enough for getting me out of there. Myra loves having pictures taken again and again and again!” He laughed.
“Hey, who could blame her?” said Rex. “She’s a real doll.”
“Plus, she is bagging the bachelor mystery-man who has eluded wedded bliss longer than any known JSAer, myself excluded,” joked Wes, who’d had a common-law relationship with Dian Belmont for more than forty years.
“Very droll,” said Charles. “I seriously do appreciate the wedding present, though it sure isn’t the kind of thing most grooms receive.”
“I figured, since you gave up the cryotuber years ago, and it made you and Myra still young, that we’d improve your weaponry,” said Rex, “for the wedding night, if not for duels with Doctor Light.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Brave and the Bold: Doctor Mid-Nite and the Guardian: Times Past, 1947: Shedding Some Light.]
“It was a stroke of genius on your part to modify the sleeping gas Lee developed for Wes all those years ago and put it in a milder patch format,” said Charles. “I just slap it on a thug, and before he can fire at Hooty, it goes into his skin and bloodstream, and out he goes!”
Wes grinned. “You even get to keep that M.D. motif since I’m sticking to the trusty gun, or at least Sandy will when he takes over for me.” Among all the JSAers, Wesley Dodds had aged the most, and he had not fought crime as the Sandman for a few years now thanks to serious health problems. “Plus, that mini-laser and the scalpel kit will fit in a black bag nicely.”
“You guys are too good to me,” said Charles.
Rex grinned. “Well, as Best Man over a potentially jealous Ted Knight, I owe you something.”
“Ted would understand,” said Wes. “He’s away as usual, anyway, so I couldn’t tell him about the wedding. (*) You can’t keep a Starman on Earth very easily.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Starman: Stars and Sliders.]
“To a happy life for you both!” toasted Rex.
“And to no Injustice Gangs crashing the honeymoon!” added Wes.
Amanda Martin was pleased to be her mother’s Maid of Honor; she had expected to put in as an annoyed teen flower girl. The pretty blonde posed in the pale pink gown and smiled. “It even matches my star sapphire!”
“Now, Amanda, promise me — no super-villain fighting at the wedding!” teased Charles.
She slugged him on the arm, “Now, Chuck, I won’t make any promises I can’t keep.”
Her mother smiled to see how well they were getting along. She had once feared that Amanda would always resent Charles for taking her late dad’s place. Now he approved of her super-heroine role of Star Sapphire, and they shared a world Myra knew only as a spectator.
Myra fingered one of Charles McNider’s books. “Charles, do you remember when you first started writing those anti-crime articles? I was your secretary and nurse back then.”
He hugged her and said, “You were excellent as both. I guess that career started due to one man — Killer Maroni, gang leader, who blinded me and gave birth to two new careers for me, and a new identity, too. I became Doctor Mid-Nite to combat him, and I did it both in costume and as a crusading anti-crime writer.”
“How come I never heard of your books?” said Amanda.
“No one reads them,” Charles said, shrugging. “I quit writing to do research and begin training others when I realized my sight no longer had to limit me career-wise. I guess I figured I could do more good as Doctor Mid-Nite than I could as McNider the pen-pusher.”
“Whatever became of Maroni?” asked Amanda.
“Charles put him away as Doctor Mid-Nite after first driving him on the run with heated articles,” said Myra.
“He must be dead by now,” Charles assumed wrongly.
The elderly man in the hospital bed was the infamous Killer Maroni. He was dying, but he had something to live for yet — revenge. He wanted to see McNider dead. In fact, he was one of the few criminals who hated the mild doctor as much as he hated the mystery-man, Doctor Mid-Nite. Little did he know the two men he loathed were, in fact, one and the same.
Doctor McNider was the target Maroni’s loyal grandson Anton was aiming at immediately. He felt this need to avenge his criminal grandfather that drove him relentlessly. If he could use the same agent against both men, it was all the better.
He approached a young punk. This friend of his had certain talents that made him perfect for the job of eliminating either McNider or Mid-Nite. He had scruffy black hair and a small patch of beard on his chin. His ears were pierced, and his attitude toward Anton Maroni was respectful. He knew how powerful in mob circles the family had once been, both in New York City under Killer Maroni and in Gotham City under his cousin Salvatore “Boss” Maroni, and old debts were still useful currency on the streets.
“I can kill this old doctor for you. You’ll remember me if I do? You’ll make me one of the family?” he asked eagerly.
“Yeah,” said Anton Maroni. “Though it’s a real irony that a cop’s grandson would join the crime family he once battled.”
The young thug shrugged. “That cop mentality was Granddad’s, not mine. He and I don’t even have the same name. My Ma is his kid. He’s a Langstrom, and I’m a Brooks.”
“Still, the talents you inherited came from a magical encounter your granddad the cop had back in the 1940s, right?” said Maroni. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Times Past, 1947: The New Olympians, Chapter 5: Mad Men of Gotham.]
“Yeah, somethin’ like that,” said Brooks. “I never questioned it. I just get off on it!”
“Ya got a name?” asked Maroni.
“Huh?” said Brooks.
“I mean, do you have a street name — a criminal name, like the Gambler, or something?”
“Yeah, I got it outta an old book. Call me Chiro!” At that point he sprouted thin, bat-like wings, and his body transformed into a bizarre creature more bat than man. He flew off, screeching into the night.
“Let McNider or his eagle-eyed pal Mid-Nite try to stop him,” sneered Anton Maroni.
Meanwhile, at the Martin home, Amanda was busy indulging a whim. She pulled her blonde hair back and posed in front of her mirror in Myra’s wedding gown. Mom’ll never know I tried this on, the teenager thought. She’d kill me if she found out, or worse, she’d put me in dresses from now on!
Hearing a crash, she ran downstairs. Her gem flared lightly as she slowly levitated down the steps to make less noise. She looked around and saw nothing. Nerves, I guess, she thought. Mom may be back at any time.
She turned at the sound of a creak high above. A hairy figure dropped down from balancing on the tiny frame above the stair landing, and he slapped her to the floor before she could react or use the star sapphire.
“This ain’t her! It’s her kid! From the back and in that gown, I’d’a thunk it was Myra!” he growled. “Well, this girl will just make her mom come to me!” he sneered. He tossed her across one huge shoulder, and in minutes the so-called Gorilla Boss of Gotham City was gone.
Dr. Louisa Soliz was alone in her free clinic in the slums of New York. She frowned as she recalled the way she viewed Charles McNider’s rejection of her service.
“I’ll rid myself of Myra and then Chapel, and anyone else who comes between me and Charles. Then he’ll see that, as his intellectual equal, only I can please him. And I can equal him when he puts on that mask, as well!” she declared. She held a dark costume and vowed, “I’ll win Dr. Mid-Nite’s love, or I’ll die with him!”
Doctor Mid-Nite himself was worried. Myra had been in near-hysterics when she returned to find Amanda gone and a note from the amorous mobster, George “Boss” Dyke, better known as the Gorilla Boss.
“Oh, Charles, after all these years, he resurfaces,” she wailed. “He kidnapped me back then, and you and Batman and Robin had to save me. (*) Now he wants me in exchange for poor Amanda!”
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Doctor Mid-Nite: Times Past, 1953: Bring Me Myra Mason.]
“Honey, you nursed him when he was still a human con at the prison, and he has never gotten over you. You’re just too sweet and lovely. I wouldn’t worry about Amanda. That star sapphire of hers could literally blow him to pieces! We’ll find her; just sit tight.” He gave her a kiss.
Myra paced and worried as he left and then ran to the front door when it rang. “Charles!” she cried. But instead of her fiancé, it was Dr. Louisa Soliz from the free clinic Charles volunteered at, who was standing there. “Oh, Dr. Soliz, this is not a good time,” she began. “Charles…”
Dr. Soliz smiled as she slugged the pretty blonde with a swift right. Myra dropped to the floor, and the doctor bent over her and injected a needle into her. “Sleeping Beauty, just rest. A final sleep awaits you when my Charles returns to claim me as his own,” she said.
She closed the door and went upstairs to put on the dark costume in her medical bag. She emerged anew in a black and purple costume and special lens. “The perfect partner for Doctor Mid-Nite awaits his return,” she said happily. “I am the night as well — the Niteshade!”