Rick Tyler had just celebrated the best birthday of his young life, having dinner with his girlfriend Dr. Beth Chapel, alias Midnight of Infinity Inc., and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Things had been rather dismal ever since the former new Hourman had found out the news.
As he headed home through the darkened park, he began to muse about his life without Miraclo — the drug that gave him an hour of power at great cost to his health. According to Beth, if he didn’t stop using Miraclo, stop being Hourman, he would die. (*) So he quit; with Beth in his life, he had too much to live for to risk everything for the rush he got from super-heroics. But it was still a hard pill to swallow, so to speak.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Infinity Inc: To Infinity and Beyond, Chapter 3: Burnout.]
A woman’s cry caught his attention, and he raced forward, uncertain how he could help without the powerful but potentially deadly drug. He saw a young girl struggling with a thug. As his heart began to beat fast — very fast — he suddenly surged forward and backhanded the thug with casual effort. The creep rolled across the greenery and did not stir. It was as if his old drug-induced powers were in effect, although he was certain that he had taken no pill.
“Thanks!” the girl gushed tearfully.
“No problem! Doing it was its own reward,” he said, smiling and wondering what had happened to him.
Hours later, he was still smiling when Beth kissed him and announced, after several tests, “The power isn’t fading! No damage is evident to your system, either! I can only guess that as the metabolism changes as we age, new things develop. In your case, your dad did return to using the drug around the time of your birth. I’d say you’ve had this latent power all along, and only your recent maturation — which never truly ended — kicked it into evidence! Guess you can’t be Hourman anymore, since the powers don’t end in sixty minutes.”
“Maybe I could call myself something based on the Miraclo theme, since this is like a new miracle for me! Maybe Miracleman?” He thought about it for a moment, then said, “I wonder if Dad could also be freed from his reliance on Miraclo. Hmm… I’m going to call him.”
Later, his father Rex Tyler smiled as Dr. Charles McNider listened. “Rick’s call got me thinking. Sure enough, I can gain my hour of power now by just thinking — though I do seem to focus it easier by rubbing the old hourglass and speaking the phrase, ‘Man of the hour’!”
“I can confirm your powers do end after the normal hour after you summon them, though,” said Dr. McNider. “I know the field of meta-genetics is brand new, so it’s hard to say for certain. You know, I’ve always wondered if John Chambers and Libby Lawrence weren’t really meta-humans who only rationalized their abilities by his spoken formula and her vibrating belt buckle.”
“You mean they don’t need them, either?”
“Maybe not, maybe so. Their mental blocks could be so firm that the formula and the buckle are needed for their adrenal surges. Still, you now don’t need the Miraclo to be hourly strong and fast. That is great news!” said McNider.
“Was it Odin’s boon or was that Rick’s gift?” asked Rex.
“One may be the boon, and the other may just be due to some metabolic change, but either way, I’m happy for you.” Charles McNider smiled and added, “I have a bit of a miracle of my own to tell you about.”
I had just checked out Myra’s daughter Amanda and had declared that it was safe for her to use her gem as Star Sapphire — with her mother’s approval, of course. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Liberty Belle: The Stars Above.]
“Oh, thanks, Charles!” she gushed and squeezed me warmly.
“Now, honey. That’s not a prescription to be a mystery lady!” I added.
“We call them super-heroines these days!” corrected Amanda as she flounced out of the room.
“She’s really growing up,” I said. “Nice to see her warming up to me finally.”
“Charles, I love you,” Myra told me. “I always have, even before I suspected you were Doctor Mid-Nite. For a man who can see in the dark, you’ve been so blind. Love is blind, they say. I married Bill Martin and fooled myself that I loved him. Oh, we were friends, and I miss him, but it was always you in my heart. I think he knew it. He had his own issues. I first dated him when our own romance never ended in marriage. I see that with Amanda growing up, time is passing. Now, it’s true that accident with the cryotuber has made us both young — young enough for a second chance. (*) I’m not letting anything stand in my way this time. I love you, and I believe you love me, too. Charles McNider, will you marry me?”
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Brave and the Bold: Doctor Mid-Nite and the Guardian: Times Past, 1947: Shedding Some Light.]
I froze. I stammered. And then something compelled me to answer.
“Myra, I could excuse myself. I could say the life of a mystery-man is deadly, full of peril, et cetera, but the truth is, I’ve always loved you, and at the same time I’ve always feared commitment. My folks divorced when I was a kid, back when that was a huge social stigma. Commitment has always been hard for me. Yes, I have always loved you, too. It broke my heart when you married Bill.”
I stopped for a moment, fearing that my voice was about to crack. Then I told her, “Yes, Myra. The answer is yes! I don’t know what magic made you ask me after so long, and I don’t know why I feel the time is right. Call it a boon. Call it the power of love. But if you want me, then I’m yours!”
“We embraced, and like the young couple we appear to be, we planned a wedding. You are to be my best man, if you’ll accept.”
“Hot dog! Congratulations, old pal!” said Rex. “That’s the best news I’ve ever heard! Looks like old Odin brought me new power and you a new lease on love!”