Byron Lewis was an engineer, aviation inventor, and former member of the Minutemen formerly known as Mothman.
Byron Lewis was born into a wealthy family in Bethlehem, Connecticut. He would later move to New York to pursue a career in engineering and aviation full time. A young prodigy, Lewis made a fortune making patented inventions in the aviation industry. In his young adult life, he sought adventure around the world. He ventured as a hunter/explorer in the jungles and as a mountaineer, and at one point making an extended visit to Africa. When he returned home from his journeys, Lewis saw that his country had been taken storm by crime fighters. Seeking to help the less fortunate and fight oppression and corruption himself, Lewis utilized his inventive talent to create special wings that allowed him to glide through the air, taking to the streets as "Mothman".
He invented a glider suit, actually a set of wings of which he perfected after several near-fatal injuries. Before flying, he had to check the wind speed and air density, and his weight could vary by no more than three pounds, according to Hollis Mason. Shortly after, Lewis joined the crime fighting group the Minutemen, which were based in New York City. Because of the tremendous pressure put on him to stay in perfect condition, Byron developed an addiction to aspirin, liniment, morphine, and eventually a drinking problem. In 1939, a little after news of the Silhouette, there were reports of a man dressed like a moth who could glide through the air.
In January 3, 1940, Lewis recorded a diary entry expressing doubts about the Minutemen, which he had come to regard as an unimportant publicity stunt, and described Hooded Justice as personifying the worst kind of hatred—the kind that needs to hidden behind a mask. Eddie Blake terrified him more, though, since his indiscretions are borne not of ignorance, like Hooded Justice’s, but of high intelligence.
In October 2, Lewis took part in a group photo alongside his Minutemen teammates. When Blake expressed desire for the United States to enter World War II, Lewis expressed his fear about the war and hoped that the country will keep out of it. After the meeting Nite Owl invited him and the others back to the Owl's Nest for a beer.
In March 1, 1942, Lewis received a military draft notice to fight in World War II. In response, he registered as a conscientious objector. Rather than use his family's congressional influence to secure a safe, comfortable posting, he wrote a letter to the Secretary of War, refusing to take part in eradicating human life in what he viewed as a repugnant war of the wealthy. To that end, he requested assignment to the Army Medical Corps as a field orderly, near the front line. After his request was accepted, Lewis shipped out to Europe and was assigned as a medical aide at a Red Cross station.
Following the end of World War II, he returned to the United States and continued to fight alongside the Minutemen. In December 1945, the Mothman joined up with Silhouette and Dollar Bill to apprehend a serial killer known as the Liquidator. A high speed chase ensued, leading the combatants all the way to upper Manhattan. While crossing the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey, Liquidator struck another car, which immobilized his vehicle. The costumed heroes caught up to the killer and begin to attack him. During the fight, Silhouette grabbed Liquidator and sent him spinning off the bridge and into the icy waters below. Mothman attempted to rescue the plummeting villain, but was too late.
HUAC Interrogation and Health Decline
During the 1950s, the House Un-American Activities Committee forced all active costumed vigilantes to reveal themselves to one of their representatives. Due to the left-wing friends that Mothman had cultivated while a student, his clearance was considerably more difficult than his companions. He was eventually cleared, but the investigations were both lengthy and ruthless. Mason speculates that the pressure of this meeting may have prompted his future drinking problem, but Laurence Schexnayder points out that the stem of his harder drinking was after the death of Dollar Bill.
In 1960, Mothman and other former Minutemen attended a Red Cross charity event for the India famine. Hollis Mason noted that he was always with a drinking glass, mumbling incoherently.
After a long bout of drinking, Mothman had a complete mental breakdown. He was admitted into an mental asylum in Maine.
Later that year, his doctors gave him leave and his nurses brought him to Sally Jupiter's mansion for a brief reunion with former Minutemen, Nelson Gardner and Hollis Mason. He seemed lost and was given a soda, but the glass fell from his hands. 13-year-old Laurie, Sally's daughter, asked her mother if that's what the future holds for the crimefighters.
Mothman wears an expressively gaudy costume themed like a moth. Although most are gray, he has a large letter "M" across his chest in bold red, as well as a red belt with a gold star and two antennas attached to his forehead. The most pronounced of his accessories are the two considerably large, bright yellow wings that supposedly flap when he is scared or possibly when he is nervous as well.