Created by writer Ken Fitch and artist Bernard Baily in Adventure Comics 48 (April 1940), DC superhero Hourman had the potential to be an interesting variation on the superman theme then flooding the new market for comic books.
Biochemist Rex Tyler was a real Clark Kent — that is to say, he was a timid, nervous fellow, literally afraid of the dark. But the Miraclo drug he discovered not only gave him superhuman strength, speed, stamina and senses, it altered his personality, making him bold and aggressive for an hour at a time.
Imagine the dramatic possibilities inherent in such a mind-alerting super-drug, in a cowardly hero. Unfortunately, in the simplistic storytelling of the day, they were never developed.
Like Bulldog Drummond in the 1920s and the Equalizer in the 1980s, Tyler advertised for people to help in the newspaper, offering his services free to the oppressed.
Like other early superhero features, this one played fast and loose with the secret identity concept. The hero gave himself the long-winded title of Tick-Tock Tyler the Hour-Man.
Encountering Rex Tyler at a crime scene in Adventure Comics 49, a police detective asks, “Tyler? I say, you don’t happen to be Tick-Tock Tyler, the Hour-Man?” “Me?” stammers Tyler.
People who intend to keep their identities secret might be well-advised not to tell everybody their actual last name.
A founding member of the Justice Society of America, Hourman was pushed aside early on in favor of Starman. He inspired two namesakes, his own son Rick and an android from the 853rd century.
He has the dubious distinction of having appeared on TV’s Robot Chicken in 2007, voiced by actor Seth Green. Promoting an erectile dysfunction pill guaranteed to “make you an hour-man, just like me,” Tyler warned “If you become four-hourman, see a doctor.”
As the Bible says, how are the mighty fallen.