My recent experiences attempting to get people reading JSA despite the heavy amount of back-story have led me to an epiphany. If the only problem is a clear and easy history guide, then I shall write one.
Henceforth, expect a new semi-regular feature as part of the usual Looking To The Stars columns. A JSA Retrospective detailing the history and legacy of the various characters of the team. These will be done as required by the current issue of JSA or as time permits based on request. (You’d be amazed how many letters I get that would be more appropriate for “Who’s Who in the DCU”.)
This month’s retrospective: The Men Of The Hour.
Rex Tyler was a chemist in World War II, who created a drug called that would temporarily enhance the strength, speed and stamina of whoever took it for one hour. He called the drug Miraclo. He called himself Hourman. Rex would fight crime as a member of the Justice Society of America until his death, battling against the time-manipulating villain Extant.
One of the few heroes who actively enjoyed the life of a crime-fighter and saw it as much a fun way to spend an evening as it was a great responsibility, Rex still managed to create his own chemical company and develop it into a large national conglomerate. He was successful enough to marry an actress several years his junior (Wendi Harris) and had one son; Rick.
Rex was a great hero, but a less than dutiful husband and father. He was often absent, so addicted was he to the rush of fighting evil and arguably to his power-enhancing drug. Still, Rick did try to follow in his father’s footsteps and took up his role as Hourman after his father’s apparent death. Actually, Rex and the other JSA members were trapped in another dimension, fighting an illusionary end-of-the-world battle, which they later escaped. Still, for all intents and purposes, the world’s first superhero team was dead.
Rick joined Infinity Inc.; a team of next-generation heroes, who were all mostly the children of the JSA founders. Still, Rick’s tenure as Hourman was very short-lived. While Rex denied being addicted to his own drug, Rick was a definite addict. Worse, he was stricken with leukemia (a side effect of his extended drug use) and was forced to retire from heroics.
It was after this that a third Hourman appeared: this one a robot from the future, whose programming was based off the genetic code of Rex Tyler, in an odd way making the robot an ancestor of the first Hourman. Possessing far greater powers than Rex Tyler had ever dreamed of, this Hourman, who later adopted the name of Matthew Tyler, was able to control time itself.
It was Matthew Tyler who went to Rick Tyler, and used his powers to cure the cancer within him. Matthew then returned to the future, but not before giving Rick two gifts. First, he gave Rick the gift of foresight; to be able to see acts of evil he could prevent exactly one hour before they happened. Second, he established The Timepoint: a place where time stands still. It is into this time-point that Matthew pulled Rex, a moment before his death. The Timepoint will exist for one hour while father and son are together, hopefully giving them a chance to reconcile their somewhat troubled past before Rex must return to the point of his death.
Rick later joined the JSA, after being one of the few heroes not captured by long-time JSA enemy The Ultra-Humanite. Aiding then-JSA team leader Sand and a few other ignored heroes, Rick was able to save the world from the Ultra-Humanite’s plans for world-domination and offered full membership in the team his father helped found. In addition to his new vision powers, Rick is using a new-and-improved, non-addictive form of Miraclo. Instead of popping a pill, the new drug is injected directly into him by means of a special gauntlet equipped with a timer to let him know how much time he has left before the effects wear off.
This was all turned on its head in recent issues, after Rick was critically wounded by a sword-slash to the stomach. Using the portal that sent him to the Timepoint, Rick switched places with his father, sending him back to the present to help his teammates in their battle as he became frozen in time, where he could not die.
Since coming back, Rex has actively avoiding going to see his wife, afraid of reopening the wounds of his death to her. It was only in this last issue, spurred on by the words of a friend and realizing nobody had told her what happened to their son, that Rex went to his old home to see Wendi.
Matthew Tyler appeared to them both, saying he could return Rex to the time point, as well as get Rick the medical help he would desperately need once time-restarted. Between the medical skills of Dr. Midnite and Mr. Terrific as well as Matthew’s ability to increase the flow of time to speed Rick’s healing process, Rick was restored to full health just in time for the Timepoint to begin dissolve. Rex Tyler’s time was up. Or so it seemed, until Rick Tyler jumped into the vortex that would take Rex back to his death.
Where we go from here in the next JSA, I can only guess. I don’t have the ability to see the future an hour ahead, much less a month. The one thing I can predict is that whatever happens, it will be enjoyable.
Tune in next week. Same Matt time. NEW Matt Website.