Hourman: Ralphie

Hourman: The Five Earths Project



by Starsky Hutch 76

When Rick Tyler and Beth Chapel — alias Surge and Midnight of Infinity Inc. — find themselves in an unexpected predicament, they would tell you their situation is complicated. But to Hourman’s oldest son Ralphie Tyler, who still sees the world through the eyes of a child, the solution is fairly simple.


May 25, 1965:

Dad told me I’m going to have a new mom. He’s going to marry his friend Wendi, who has been coming over here to visit. She’s pretty and makes him laugh, which he used to not do much, so I’m glad they’re getting married.

When I asked Dad why I didn’t have a mom like other kids, he told me my mom lives up in Heaven with the angels. He showed me pictures and said her name was Beverly.

It’ll be good to have a mom who’s alive, like the kids at school. Maybe they won’t make fun of me so much. But I hope my mom who lives up in Heaven with the angels won’t be made at me for calling Wendi Mom.


February 7, 1966:

Mom and Dad brought home a new baby brother for me today! I’m so excited! He was all tiny and squirmy and pink, but Mom says he’ll be big enough to play with someday. I can’t wait. I wish they’d let me hold him. I’d be careful.


August 1, 1976:

Rick and I were playing Batman and Robin today. I thought I should get to be Batman ’cause I’m oldest. Rick said I was too stupid to be Batman, even if I was a grown up. Boy, did Dad let him have it. After that, Rick didn’t want to play anymore. I don’t like it when Rick is upset, so I said I’d be Robin. Rick said let’s be Wildcat and Atom. I told him he had to be Atom ’cause he was shortest, and he said OK.


August 24, 1976:

Boy, was Dad mad at when they got back from the Trevors’ house! He and a bunch of the other JSA people’s kids stole Wonder Woman’s invisible jet and drove it all over the place! (*) Boy, that sounds like fun! Wish I could have been there like Rick, but my group with all my friends who are like me was going to the zoo, and I didn’t want to miss the animals. That sounded cooler, though, and I missed out! I wouldn’t have liked getting yelled at like he is, though. Plus, he got grounded again. Rick’s always getting grounded.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Memories,” Infinity Inc. #27 (June, 1986).]


December 12, 1976:

Mom is mad at Dad for coming out of retirement. She says he’s too old to be playing dress-up. He says the world still needs Hourman. She says, “No, Rex Tyler needs Hourman.” Now they’re just giving each other mean looks, but at least they’re not yelling no more. I hate when they fight.


January 13, 1980:

Rick won’t ever play super-heroes anymore. He says it’s kid stuff. He won’t play action figures, either. At least he’ll still ride bikes and play video games. But I miss some of the fun stuff we used to do. Mom says he’s becoming a teenager, so he’s outgrowing it. I never did, so I wish he wouldn’t.


February 28, 1983:

Dad and Rick fight all the time now. Rick’s pretty mean to me sometimes, too. He won’t let me come in his room anymore, and he never wants to play games with me or ride bikes like we used to. It’s always, “Ralphie, get out!” or “Ralphie, don’t touch my stuff. You’ll break it.” He thinks he’s so grown-up now, but I’m still the oldest.


July 20, 1985:

The skies are all red, and everyone says it’s the end of the world. I sure hope not. Everyone is so scared. I hope Dad and the rest of the JSA can handle it OK. Mom is crying a lot. She’s afraid Dad’s going to get himself killed like the Crimson Avenger did.


August 10, 1985:

Dad is mad at Rick again. He started taking Dad’s Miraclo and calling himself Hourman. Mom says he’s mad and proud at the same time. I don’t understand how you can be mad at someone and still be proud of them. He joined Infinity Inc. and is a super-hero, too, now. I haven’t met all of them, but I’ve seen them on TV. My favorite is Brainwave Junior. He has the best costume. I like Northwind, too. He has wings. I think Jade is pretty, and she has green skin.


September 28, 1985:

Rick’s got a new girlfriend. Her name is Beth. She’s real pretty and smart. She’s a doctor! Rick’s so lucky. I don’t think I’ll ever have a girlfriend like her. But there is a girl in my group I like. Her name is Mandy. She’s not as pretty as Beth, but she’s still pretty.

Rick and Beth take me to the park sometimes. I might ask if I can bring Mandy next time.


January 16, 1986:

Rick is sad. He can’t take Miraclo anymore, because it’s making him real sick. Now he can’t be Hourman like Dad. I wish he could. I don’t like it when Rick is sad. He never smiles anymore. Beth doesn’t smile much anymore, either. She tries to cheer him up, but nothing helps, and that makes her sad, too.


March 1, 1986:

Rick got his powers back somehow. They explained it, but I didn’t really understand. It had something to do with Dad’s last big adventure with the JSA when he was away for a while. Dad made a birthday wish for Rick a few weeks ago, and someone named Odin made it come true. I’m glad Dad helped him get his powers back, even if he did use his super-hero name without asking. Rick is gonna call himself Surge now, so that’s OK. He and Beth both have new costumes, too. They look really neat. Beth has long hair now, too.


July 8, 1986:

Rick and Beth are upset about something. I don’t know what it is. I think they’ve been fighting. It’s usually so fun when Rick and Beth come to take me to the park or the zoo. But now everyone’s unhappy.

Whenever Mom was unhappy like that, it was usually something I’d done to stress her out. I asked Beth if I’d done something wrong. She smiled at me but still looked sort of sad and kissed me on the cheek and said, “No, honey, you didn’t do anything wrong.”

I know I shouldn’t have been spying on their private conversations, but I wanted to know why they were so unhappy. I heard Beth tell Rick he was too young, and she had worked too hard to get where she was to give it all up, and they weren’t ready. She also said, “What if it’s like Ralphie? Your dad took Miraclo, too, and look what happened.”

Rick got mad and said, “We don’t know that it had anything to do with that.”

I didn’t understand what they meant. What if what’s like me? Beth told me I didn’t do anything wrong.

When they brought me home, Rick was talking to Dad, and he blew his top. He told Rick he was too young, too, and called him “damn irresponsible.” He hadn’t called Rick that in a long time, so I knew he must be really mad. Rick called him a racist, which made him even madder. “I’ve never said anything about her being black, and you know it!” he yelled. “It’s you I have the problem with.”

“What else is new?” Rick said.


July 21, 1986:

Rick moved out! I was so mad, I just screamed and screamed! I went into Dad’s study and told him it was all his fault for the way he’s been yelling at Rick. I felt real bad after, because I could tell Dad was sad about it, too.

He sat me down and talked to me like I was a grown-up for the first time ever. He told me Rick and Beth were going to have a baby! I couldn’t believe it! I don’t understand why everyone’s so sad. I remember how happy I was when Rick came home when he was a baby. In a few years there could be someone to play with again. Rick and Beth love each other and are having a baby. Why isn’t everyone happy about this?


August 20, 1986:

I asked Rick when he was going to move back in. He said he wasn’t ever moving back into the house, which made me sad. I had hoped he and Beth would move back in with the baby they are going to have, so I could play with it every day.

He said he has been living at Stellar Studios until he and Beth can get a place together. He told me he and Beth are going to have to get married. I said “Well, duh,” and he looked at me sort of surprised. I don’t know why. I always knew they were going to get married someday.


September 10, 1986:

Beth and Rick got married today! I got to be best man. I was so afraid I was gonna lose the ring, or worse. I kept taking it out to look at it so I’d know I hadn’t lost it. Both our families were there, plus Dad’s friends in the JSA, Rick’s Infinity Inc. friends, and Beth’s friends from the hospital. For once, everyone didn’t seem upset or mad. It was nice. Dad even grabbed Rick in a big hug after it was over at the reception.


October 1, 1986:

Boy, is Beth looking big these days! She laughs and says it’s a good thing she’s taking time off from Infinity Inc., ’cause she’d look funny in that belly-baring uniform. She let me touch her stomach, and I felt the baby kick. That was weird, but kind of cool. Dad and Rick get along real good these days. Mom jokes and says she’s too young and beautiful to be a grandmother, and what will her adoring fans say about Wendi Tyler being a grandmaw?

This made Dad laugh. He said they’d say she’s the sexiest granny ever.


December 31, 1986:

It’s a boy! I was hoping it would be! They named him Zachary Rex Tyler. Zach after Beth’s granddad and Rex after Dad.

I can’t wait until he’s bigger. I’m going to teach him all sorts of games. I hope he’ll like Nintendo and playing make-believe. Rick is smiling like crazy these days, and Beth looks happy, too.


January 24, 1987:

Mom, Dad, and me went to visit Rick and Beth at their new place. Beth and Mom had just fed and changed Zach and put him to bed and come back into the living room. Dad and Rick were talking about whether Zach might have powers in the dark like Beth — she can see in the dark but not light — or be super-strong when he needed it, like Rick.

Suddenly, we heard a loud crack, and we all ran to the baby’s room and looked to see what happened. Beth flipped on the light, and we all gasped when we saw what happened. He had snapped one of the bars of the baby bed in two when the lights were out.

Dad stared at Zach real surprised and said, “If I were you two, I’d invest in a nightlight for that one.” The rest of us kept watching as Zach’s little hand moved to another bar. It didn’t break like the last one. I started to back up and bumped into the light switch, and the lights went out, and then we all heard another loud crack!

The End

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