It's no secret that the early success of Superman and Batman inspired the creators of other superheroes. And naturally, DC Comics was sometimes inspired to appropriate parts of its most successful superheroes themselves. Such is the case for Dr. Mid-Nite, who has a strange and wonderful origin story across the board — part of it obviously inspired by Batman. His origin and first appearance in All-American Comics #25, cover-dated April 1941 (with an on-sale date of around February 19, 1941) is an underrated DC Comics key issue. There's an All-American Comics #25 (DC, 1941) CGC VG+ 4.5 Off-white to white pages available in this week's 2021 June 27-28 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122126 session at Heritage Auctions.
Dr. Mid-Nite is in reality Dr. Charles McNider, who loses his sight after becoming the target of a criminal gang. McNider has his Batman-inspired "I shall become a bat" moment when as he sits in his home one night pondering how to strike back against the mob, and an owl crashes through his window. The incident makes him realize he can still see in the dark, and the owl inspires him to become Dr. Mid-Nite, because, "Everyone knows an owl can see only at night… the iris of its eye cannot close off light to the proper degree and so the owl is blinded by daylight… the accident made Dr. McNider's eyes the same as the owl's… he can see in the dark — but light blinds him."
McNider's backstory in this issue is another point of interest. After losing his sight, he becomes a true crime magazine writer — and arguably a pulp writer. Crime pulps in general sometimes claimed to be of the true crime genre with stories based on true events. In the story, McNider is shown to be a writer for "Crime and Detective Tales", an obviously pulp format magazine that has the blurb "20 stories" on its cover. This appears to have been inspired by the actual pulp title Detective Tales from major pulp publisher Popular Publications. Issues of Detective Tales boasted of containing 12 stories on its covers.
Dr. Mid-Nite was created by Charles Reizenstein and Stanley Josephs Aschmeier. A rarity among DC Comics keys in that it's still affordable within the budgets of mere mortals, All-American #25 deserves more attention from modern collectors. There are 23 universal entries for this issue on the CGC Census, and notably, it is extremely difficult to obtain above mid-grade. There's an All-American Comics #25 (DC, 1941) CGC VG+ 4.5 Off-white to white pages available in this week's 2021 June 27-28 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122126 session at Heritage Auctions.
All-American Comics #25 (DC, 1941) CGC VG+ 4.5 Off-white to white pages. Origin and first appearance of Dr. Mid-Nite. Hop Harrigan becomes the Guardian Angel. Howard Purcell cover. Martin Nodell and Sheldon Mayer art. Currently tied for #100 on Overstreet's list of Top 100 Golden Age Comics. Overstreet 2020 VG 4.0 value = $2,450. CGC census 6/21: 4 in 4.5, 10 higher.