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Hollis Mason

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Hollis T. Mason (1916 - October 31, 1985) is a character in the comic book limited series Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and published by DC Comics. He is called Nite Owl and is a modified version of the various Blue Beetle characters created for Fox Feature Syndicate and later sold to Charlton Comics.


Hollis Mason (Movie) 001

Nite Owl I

Hollis Mason was born in 1916. At the age of 12, his father left the family farm in Montana and moved to New York City, working at Moe Vernon's Auto Repairs.

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.

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.[1]

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. Holding a romantic interest for Ursula Zandt, he helped her in her private exploits against child trafficking and pornography. They established a close friendship.

Mason was an "old school" crimefighter, a real "Boy Scout" in the eyes of Captain Metropolis. He and Byron went to enlist but they both were classed 4F.[2] He stopped colorful criminals like the Screaming Skull and went on to fight supposed Axis operatives including Captain Axis during World War II.


Hollis as an author

He retired in May, 1962 to open an auto business and write his memoir of his crime-fighting exploits, Under the Hood. By reading Under the Hood, Laurie Juspeczyk later learned of the Comedian's attempted rape of her mother, Sally Jupiter.

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.

Hollis statue

Mason beaten by the knot-tops

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.


Nite Owl (Hollis)

Hollis as the Nite Owl

Mason 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.

Young hollis

Photograph of Nite Owl posing during the arrest of Spaceman.

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.

Watchmen Heroes
Captain MetropolisHooded JusticeNite Owl IThe ComedianSilk Spectre IDollar BillMothmanSilhouette
Captain MetropolisDoctor ManhattanRorschachThe ComedianOzymandiasNite Owl IISilk Spectre II

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