Superhero Spotlight: Hourman

Chris Diver

Rex Tyler, AKA Hourman, is a DC Comics superhero that has been on the sidelines for most of his run. He might not be the most well known hero, but Hourman is a part of DC’s history, serving alongside several of the company’s biggest teams. There have been three people to hold the title of Hourman, but the first and most well known is Rex Tyler. Tyler was created by Ken Fitch and Bernard Baily and first appeared in Adventure Comics #48 in 1940.

Rex Tyler is a chemist in upstate New York who was working on a serum known as Miraclo. After testing Miraclo on mice, he decided to try it on himself and noticed it gave him superhero speed and strength for an hour. Because of this, Tyler took a costume from an abandoned costume shop and created the identity “Hourman,” putting an ad in the paper for stopping crime, originally being a hero for hire. His first response comes from a woman named Mary Kennedy who asked Hourman to help her husband who had became a criminal. He used his new found powers to help her husband and stop a robbery that he was planning.

After solving his first case, Tyler would go on to be a founding member of the Justice Society of America. However, his run with the JSA was short lived as Tyler developed heart failure from the Miraclo and was saved by Doctor Fate. This forced Tyler to take a leave of absence, and in his last mission, he received energies that slowed his aging. During this period, Tyler also fought alongside the Freedom Fighters and the All-Star Squadron to help out with the war effort, though unlike other heroes, Rex would help out in a more limited role. Rex would eventually settle down with his wife Wendi and run his own company Tyler Chemical Company.

With Rex retired, soon another person would take on the mantle: Rick Tyler, his son. Rick Tyler was created by Roy and Dann Thomas and Todd MacFarlane and first appeared in 1985’s Infinity Inc #20. Rick grew up without the guidance of his father, who at that point had become addicted to Miraclo. Rick would first run into the drug itself when he used it to save the life of Beth Chapel during the Crisis on Infinite Earths event. This made Rex angry as he knew the addictive effects. Rick would still manage to take up his father’s mantle and join Infinity Inc.

During his tenure, Rick was kidnapped by a group called Justice Unlimited and in the process, killed the villain The Wizard. This strained Rick and made him give up the identity of Hourman, though he would return to the mantle after the trial of the villain Mr. Bones.

Rick would later develop leukemia as a side effect of Miraclo. Johnny Quick was able to help both Rick and Rex get their powers without the help of the drug. But following Rex’s death and the death of Beth Chapel, Rick retired again. He was replaced by an android. Rick would come out of retirement after beating cancer and fight alongside the Justice Society and his wife Jesse Chambers, known as Jesse Quick. Rick Tyler currently holds the title of Hourman and exists in the Earth 2 continuity.

Hourman has appeared in several forms of media as both Rick and Rex. Rex Tyler appeared in the Batman Brave and the Bold episode “The Golden Age of Justice” voiced by Lex Lang. Rick Tyler appeared in the Justice League Unlimited episode “Panic in the Sky”; however, he had no lines. Rex Tyler has appeared in live action in the CW Arrowverse in Legends of Tomorrow in the episodes “Legendary” and “The Justice Society of America”. In this universe, Tyler was portrayed by Patrick J. Adams.