THE JSA FACT FILE
Residence: New York City of Earth-Two
Occupation: Chemist, later CEO of Tyler Chemicals
First Appearance (Golden Age): Adventure Comics #48 (March, 1940)
First Appearance (Silver Age): Justice League of America #21 (August, 1963)
Little is known of the early live of the Hourman of Earth-Two. 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
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). 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
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 fiancée, 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 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). As the Crisis concluded, Earth-2 was sealed away from multiversal contact and the exploits and continued fate of Rex Tyler is unknown. A group picture of the current evolution of the JSA, Justice Society Infinity, depicts an "Hour Girl" rumored to be Rebecca Tyler, Rex's niece. The veracity of this has not been demonstrated.
Power and Abilities
Hourman's powers were 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. Exposure to a black light
ray could also activate residual traces of the drug in system, allowing periods
of super-powers without additional dosing. Eventual refinements of Miraclo resulted in continued or improved effects and reductions of addictive behaviors or other side-effects. While the margin of the safety of the drug was 60 minutes in it's original formulation, several recorded cases exist of Hourman exceeding this limitation with some retention of his augmented abilities. Rex Tyler was also an accomplished chemist and in his later years, a highly successful leader of industry with consider resources to support his activities as Hourman. Finally, Hourman was present at the battle with Ian Karkull and the JSA and was exposed to radiation that slowed his aging process, accounting for his continued vitality in later years.
Weakness and Limitations
Before regular use of the drug, Hourman had no powers at all and when his system inactivated the drug, he returned to normal human physiology. Further, Miraclo had several deleterious side-effects, most importantly its strong addictive nature.