Starting out as a New York City policeman in 1938, he was inspired by Action Comics' Superman and the real life exploits of Hooded Justice to take up the life of a vigilante. He was nicknamed Nite Owl for spending his evenings working out in the Police Gymnasiums as much as possible and going to bed at 9:00pm to rise for a 5:00am work out before donning his badge and uniform.
His costume was designed to free his arms and legs while protecting his chest, abdomen and head with a tough leather tunic. With the tunic hiding his hair, a domino mask concealed his identity.
2 months into building his Nite Owl persona, he was present in a police operation surrounding a battery park factory, where H.J. had hunted a couple of murderers. The deformed body of the last of them fell on a patrol car. Mason was the only one who spotted H.J.'s figure running away.
He started his costume beneath his police uniform. As a New York patrolman, he chose to have duty in the more troubled areas. In one of those nights, he saw a van with armed robbers. He ran away, took off his uniform and as Nite Owl he ran towards the van and hijacked it. In the last moment he jumped out to push away a mother and her son who were out for Christmas shopping.
While World War II was starting in Europe, Mason saw in the Daily News an advertisement by Captain Metropolis and Silk Spectre I for recruiting costumed adventurers to fight for America. He went to the audition. He was very shy and nervous, however his exploits were already known and he was chosen on the spot to join the Minutemen, a "masked adventurer" league.
Four months later, in mid-1939 they had their first mission, expose Italians smuggling weapons, which was botched, as the saboteurs turned out to be firework smugglers. Mason had double feelings about whether he should report their blunter to the police, but fearing the consequences he played along with the public who hailed them as patriotic heroes.
He established a close friendship with Ursula and met in Deli Madison; against their internal rules, he revealed to her his full identity and job, and gave her his police box number. This proved to be her salvation as she was heavily injured when she called him. Instead of notifying his colleagues, Mason wanted to be her savior himself, so he abandoned his post and as Nite Owl, he took her to Gretchen, "her doctor". The next day he paid her a visit, and there he found out that Gretchen was actually her lover.
Around 1946, after the end of the War, Ursula's lesbianism was exposed and the Minutemen voted her out, although Mason voted in favor of her. He announced her their decision but they would continue to work together. She handed him a file with murdered kids to look up in the police files. Two weeks later Hollis sent her what he could gather. Days later he received one last call from her in Marina Bay.
Mason worked with Lewis in his secret laboratory with maintaining or improving his flying suit. There they learned the death of Ursula Zandt and Gretchen. Lewis arranged for unmarked graves so that they wouldn't be defiled by haters. Soon after, and against police procedures, Nite Owl broke into their home and collected all evidence could find along with Ursula's investigations. He realised that someone was already there before him. He and Lewis skimmed through their belongings and heard Gretchen's story from an audio tape.
When Japanese saboteurs planned to destroy the Statue of Liberty, Nite Owl led the mysterious helpers Bluecoat and Scout into the Statue while C.M. and H.J. covered the slopes. The three climbed up, but then Bluecoat was shot by his father and Scout unseathed his knife and assaulted the old man. Nite Owl shot him in the head before the boy approached him. As the old man fell down, he covered the device with enriched uranium, so Scout uncovered it with his bare hands. The Statue was saved but the boy fell sick and Nite Owl took it to the others. For the following 6 days the boy was in the hospital tended by Mason when he wasn't on duty. Although the government decided to bury the event, Mason lied to him that the whole world knew about his heroism.
The cover-up did not help the decline of the Minutemen and they disbanded in 1949 which was the worst year of Mason's life. But life smiled to him with the birth of Laurie Juspeczyk and he felt in love again. Nonetheless he continued Silhouette's work.
In 1955 his neighbor Mrs. Musante told him that Tino Musante Jr. had disappeared since visiting the Top Circus that morning. As Nite Owl he revisited that night the empty location and abandoned building where Mothman had found the dead kid years ago. This time, Nite Owl saw Hooded Justice moving there and followed him. He was soon assaulted and fell unconscious, but when he stood up, he found Tino tied up, but alive.
When he came to, he rescued Tino and returned to him to his family, and he continued looking for H.J.. 2 weeks later the mayor honored him for the rescue and gave him the Key to the City. Some of the children he had saved, and some of his fellow police officers would give testimonials about his deeds. He didn't know however that he was fooled; believing that he had to face Hooded Justice, he cooperated one last time with Mothman, and after seeking the help from Nelson, they sneaked into the tower of Freedom. Mothman saved his life when a crate fell on them, and when he cae abut, he saw H.J. holding Mothman, bleeding. With a foolish assault he hurled on H.J. snapping his neck. Then Nelson showed up, crying, threatening them not to unmask him.
Happy that the child murdered was out, he continued ridding his neighborhood of criminals. He established a closer relationship with Sally Jupiter's family. He felt it harder to keep up and the arrival of other costumed adventurers and Dr. Manhattan with his real-life superpowers marked for him the end of his era.
He retired in May, 1962 and a ceremony was given to his honor with a dinner, and was given a statue "In Gratitude". That night he also met Dr. Manhattan. Before retiring to a clinic, Byron bought him a new apartment and a building for his auto business where he moved with his dog, Phantom.
While working as a car technician, Hollis decided to write his memoir of his crime-fighting exploits, Under the Hood. He felt it was a confessiοn he had to do to the public, regarding the covered-up, idealized image of the costumed adventurers. He found opposition from his ex-manager, Laurence Schexnayder, Norbert Veldon, the lover of Captain Metropolis and Sally Jupiter. Despite the reactions, Mason was adamant about the factuality of the book. That was until one night the Comedian sneaked into his house and woke him up with a music record. He informed him that Hoover was not happy with the book, and as an example that some things should not be revealed, he explained him that it was him who led him to Hooded Justice, who was otherwise innocent; The Comedian wanted him only disgraced. He also threatened him in case his book was anything else than a light-hearted reminicence of the old days. Mason was convinced, although he didn't cut the part of the Comedian's rape attempt.
Soon after Hollis retired, Daniel Dreiberg sought out Hollis in the mid-1960s and asked if he could use the name and persona of Nite Owl to fight crime. Hollis met Daniel and was far too impressed by Daniel's technologies and ideas to deny him the mantle of Nite Owl (which Hollis confesses in his book was slightly an idiotic name).
Events of Watchmen
Dreiberg often would visit Hollis each Saturday for beer sessions and talk about their past careers. Mason believed that Dreiberg was a "better Nite Owl" than he had been.
After Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II break Rorschach out of prison on Halloween night, the Knot Tops, led by Derf, hear of the news. Angered by it, the entire group follows the suggestion of a gang member who mistakenly believes that Mason is the same Nite Owl that had participated in the prison break. Mistaking the group for trick-or-treaters, Mason opens his door to them. They attack en masse. Mason gets in a few solid hits but is beaten down. Ignoring the protests of some of the Knot Tops, Derf kills Mason with the very statue that was given to him as an acknowledgment and reward for his service as a costumed adventurer. As it happens, he likely would have been killed upon the execution of Adrian Veidt's plot anyway, so his earlier murder makes it easier for Nite Owl II to stomach Veidt's actions.
PersonalityMason was an "old school" crimefighter, a real "Boy Scout" in the eyes of Captain Metropolis. He was quite possibly the most decent and "normal" of the masked adventurers presented in Watchmen. While many of his colleagues have psychological issues with regards to society, race, gender, sex or just simple megalomania, Mason is apparently free of these traits, and judging by the excerpts from his book, is something of a voice of reason in the world of the costumed adventurers. By all accounts, he was just a police officer who felt he needed to go a bit beyond the normal line of duty in order to make a more significant impact on crime - though in Under the Hood he speculates that his strict moral upbringing and love of pulp comics may have been a factor, at least in his initial choice to become a policeman. Both in person and in his book his words tend to be kindly and temperate, with a slight tendency towards light hearted self-deprecating humor.
He seems to be well liked by most of his teammates and to get along with most as well, despite sometimes being all too aware of their faults and flaws. His enmity seems to be saved for the Comedian, whom he never forgave for the attempted rape of Sally Jupiter, and whose brutal means of crimefighting proved too much for Mason to reconcile himself with. He spoke against him in their council to expel him.
He is a modified version of the various Blue Beetle characters created for Fox Feature Syndicate and later sold to Charlton Comics.
There is a minor inconsistency between his appearances in Before Watchmen: in Minutemen he auditioned along with other customed adventurers, before he (and Mothman), being accepted. In Dollar Bill, although several characters like Mothman are seen in the row, Nite Owl is not. Instead he is seen beside Silk Spectre, Captain Metropolis and Larry Schexnayder.
|Captain Metropolis • Hooded Justice • Nite Owl I • The Comedian • Silk Spectre I • Dollar Bill • Mothman • Silhouette|
|Captain Metropolis • Doctor Manhattan • Rorschach • The Comedian • Ozymandias • Nite Owl II • Silk Spectre II|
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