Alter Ego: Rex Tyler
first appeared in (Golden Age): Adventure Comics #48, First Appearance (Silver Age): Justice League of America #21
"And he showed me. I could feel myself letting go. My heart giving out. But in between those last few beats, I saw them. So bright, so magnificent, the future."
- Hourman -All Star Comics Vol. 2 #2 (May, 1999)
Occupation: Adventurer, Chemist, later CEO of Tyler Chemicals (Decesed)
Base of Operations:
Marital Status: Formerly Married
Known Relatives: Wendi Harris Tyler (wife). Richard (Rick) Tyler/Hourman II (son).
Group Affiliation: Justice Society of America
Rex Tyler was born in 1913 and spent at least part of his youth in Ithaca, New York. Unlike some of his JSA peers, Tyler grew up in rather humble environs. In 1939, Tyler was a chemist employed at Bannermain Chemical in New York. Tyler was a humble man, considered meek and timid by his colleagues and nicknamed "Tick-Tock" for his obsessive punctuality. But in the late hours of the evening, Tyler worked feverishly in a project undisclosed to his superiors: the development of a drug to imbue ordinary men with miraculous powers. Tyler called his drug "Miraclo," and after some brief experiments with animals, tested his Miraclo formula on himself. He was astonished at the effectiveness of the drug. For a single hour, he had incredible strength and speed, increased resistance to physical harm, and the ability to leap great heights. After his initial uses of his powers created a row at a local carnival, he disguised himself in an acrobat's costume and fled. He ultimately adopted the costume as his uniform. When Tyler returned to his lab, he found evidence in his animals that Miraclo was maddeningly addictive. To his later regret, he ignored this evidence as a signal for future danger to himself (Secret Origins vol. 2 #16).
Tyler decided to use his discovery to become a force of good in the form of a mystery-man called the Man of the Hour, or Hourman. He started by taking out an ad in the local newspaper, soliciting requests from those who considered themselves beyond normal avenues of aid. His first case was from the wife of a neophyte petty criminal named Johnny Kenton. Kenton had turned to crime due to the lack of work in Depression-era America, and Mrs. Kenton solicited Hourman's help in changing her husband's mind before he was apprehended by the police. The gang with which Kenton had fallen in attempted a robbery of the New York Beaux Arts Ball, but Hourman appeared, foiled the attempt, and snatched Kenton himself. After tossing him around a bit to convince him to take the straight and narrow, Hourman released Kenton, who returned to a life of law and order (Adventure Comics #48). This case also caused him to cross paths with the Golden Age Sandman, who was pursuing a case of his own (Sandman Mystery Theatre #29-32). From this point, Hourman's reputation began to grow. He encountered a number of adversaries, notably Doctor Togg (Adventure Comics #57), a criminal geneticist and Doctor Darkk, an master of robotics (Adventure Comics #65). Commonly, Hourman pursued criminals of a somewhat scientific bent, just as Doctor Fate pursued mystic matters.
In 1940, Hourman was selected by Doctor Fate to aid in the defeat of Valkyries summoned by Adolph Hitler's use of the Spear of Destiny. This case led to the to the formation of the Justice Society of America, of which Hourman was a charter member DC SPecial #29). Hourman served as a member in good standing for a year, but the two years of regular Miraclo use was taking its toll.
Following the JSA's defeat of Ian Karkull, Hourman requested a leave of absence and recommended Starman has his replacement (All-Star Squadron Annual #3). Hourman then spent several months working on an improved application of Miraclo, using "black light" to activate the Miraclo residue already present in his cells. One evening, while working late, Tyler was visited at Bannermain Chemical by Uncle Sam, the living embodiment of the American spirit. When Uncle Sam attempted to convince Tyler of an imminent Axis threat that required the service of Hourman, Tyler resisted. In a scuffle with Uncle Sam, Hourman's dual identity was revealed. Uncle Sam persuaded Hourman to join him and several lesser-known heroes on a mission in the Pacific Ocean. Most of the heroes were slain in a battle with Japanese "zeroes," but Hourman was recovered by the Japanese and later turned over to Baron Blitzkrieg. Uncle Sam, also among the survivors, led a second team of heroes to rescue Hourman, but the Baron eluded capture. During the battle with Blitzkrieg, Phantom Lady's "black light" device was dropped on the ground, and the Ray activated the device and pointed it at Hourman, activating the Miraclo residue within his body (All-Star Squadron #31-35). Tyler presumably later used this to develop his "Miraclo Ray" which he used later in his wartime career (Adventure Comics #71). Through circumstances as yet unrevealed, Hourman hung up his cowl in 1943.
Over the next twenty years, Rex Tyler attained several objectives. He greatly improved the Miraclo formula to enhance his powers, though it still had addictive side-effects. He abandoned the use of the Miraclo Ray sometime in the 1940s. Tyler also worked on his career, advancing up the corporate ladder at Bannermain Chemical. By 1962, he again became active when some of his costumed comrades returned to activity participating in the first contact between the JSA and the Justice League of America (Justice League of America #21-22). Shortly thereafter, Hourman joined Doctor Fate and Green Lantern to defeat Solomon Grundy (Showcase #55). In 1965, he bankrolled an expedition to Asia by his friend Kent Nelson (Doctor Fate) which led to the recovery of the Masks of Medusa. The masks held mystic powers of manipulating emotion. Roger Hayden, a former cell-mate of the original Psycho-Pirate, stole the masks, studied them, and adopted the role of new Psycho-Pirate. The new Psycho-Pirate was defeated by the combined might of Hourman and Doctor Fate. Shortly after this case, Rex Tyler revealed his secret identity to his fiancˇe, Wendi Harris, an aspiring actress (Showcase #56), and they were wed shortly thereafter. This union produced a son, Richard.
Through the years, Hourman battled with his addiction to Miraclo. By the 1970s, he was only semi-active in the JSA, particularly after being severely injured by the Icicle (All-Star Comics #66). Instead he devoted his time to Tyler Chemicals and the raising of his rebellious son. In one case, he donned his costume for a final battle with a recurrent adversary, Doctor Kobalt. He arrested Kobalt's henchman, Jimmy MacIntyre, the father of Billy MacIntyre (Triumph #1). Hourman took an interest in Billy, appearing in secret to encourage the youth to choose the higher road (Triumph #3). These experiences shaped Billy's decision to become the hero known as Triumph when he reached adulthood.
In the 1980s, when Rick was grown, Hourman began to make more frequent appearances. When the Crisis on Infinite Earths began, Hourman took an active part. During a hospital fire, Rick ingested some of his father's Miraclo and joined the fray. Despite the senior Tyler's strenuous objections, Rick designed a costume and became the new Hourman (Infinity Inc. #20-22) and later joined Infinity Incorporated (Infinity Inc. #25). When the JSA entered Limbo to stall the coming of Ragnarok, Hourman joined them (Last Days of the Justice Society #1). When the JSA emerged three years later, Rick Tyler had given up the role of Hourman and contracted some form of blood cancer (presumably a form of leukemia), apparently due to the Miraclo (Justice Society of America #2). Hourman himself gave up Miraclo and attempted to find some solace in a drug addicts' therapy group (Justice Society of America #5). One of Tyler's former colleagues in the All-Star Squadron, the super-speedster Johnny Quick, had become involved in marketing the idea of "releasing the metahuman potential" in individuals with the affected genes. He convinced Hourman that his powers came from a metagene, and that the metagene could be activated without Miraclo by reciting the phrase "Man of the Hour." Hourman found then that he maintained all the strength, speed and endurance of before without the drug (Justice Society of America #8). He then returned to semi-activity, including a stint with the Justice League Task Force (Justice League Task Force #10-12).
During the crisis known as Zero Hour, Hourman joined the JSA in its initial strike against Extant. During the battle, he and Doctor Mid-Nite engaged Extant in hand-to-hand combat and were aged swiftly and dramatically, more than their JSA comrades and far past what would have been their correct chronological ages. (Hourman, like most of the JSA members, had not aged normally; a combination of chronal energy absorbed during the battle with Ian Karkull, and the time the JSA spent in Limbo, had left him much younger than he ordinarily would have been.) Hourman died almost immediately from the strain (Zero Hour #3). He was laid to rest along with the other slain members of the Justice Society in a brief memorial service (Showcase '95 #1).
Hourman's powers were originally derived from the drug Miraclo, a chemical stimulant. Its effects were instantaneous and gave him superhuman strength, endurance, and reaction time for exactly 60 minutes. Later, Hourman found that reciting the phrase "Man of the Hour" activated his powers. Although Johnny Quick claimed this was because Hourman's powers were actually due to a metagene that had been triggered by Miraclo, there is no evidence to either support or disprove such a claim.
Before regular use of the drug, Hourman had no powers at all. At some point the effects of Miraclo apparently became permanent, but precisely when is unknown. Further, Miraclo had several deleterious side-effects, most importantly its strong addictive nature. The drug was also limited to Rex Tyler's specific biochemistry; its use in his son apparently caused an advanced form of cancer. Once Hourman had mastered the use of his mantra to activate his powers, it was unclear what his limitations were.