Early Life Edit
Dan was born on September 18, 1945. His abusive father was a banker. Dan was an introvert fascinated with electronics, inventions, and his hero Nite Owl of the Minutemen. His favorite stories were about Pegasus and the flying carpet from mythology and fascinated with the idea of flying, he studied ornithology and aviation extensively alongside engineering.
Becoming Nite Owl Edit
In 1962, during one of Mason Hollis' stunts in Sparky's Garage, Dan rigged his Owl Car with a listening device of his own invention and followed him all the way to the Owl Cave. Daniel left Mason a note requesting that they meet at Lincoln Park. During this meeting, Daniel offered to become Mason's sidekick. His initial reaction was nonchalant. When Dan returned home, he saw that his father was abusing his mother again, but soon after the man had a heart attack, and neither Daniel nor his mother bothered to call the hospital in time. Although his father was disappointed in him for not following his in his footsteps and becoming a banker, he left him a large inheritance, which Daniel used to pay for the materials needed to design and build his crime-fighting gear. He went on to become a master in aeronautics and zoology at Harvard University.
When Mason retired from crime-fighting and opened an auto repair shop, Daniel wrote to him asking if he could carry on his name as Nite Owl II. Upon looking at his gear, Mason was too impressed to refuse him, and so he became Nite Owl II in 1962.
In 1965, Nite Owl teamed up with fellow costumed adventurer Rorschach to take on organized crime. Thanks to the latter's unpredictability and tactical brilliance, they bring down Underboss and Big Figure.
The Crimebusters and early retirement Edit
Having already come to believe that his expensive activities were accomplishing little, Dreiberg retired after the passing of the Keene Act on August 3, 1977, although he seemed to regret his decision later. Rorschach would later say regarding his retirement, "No staying power."
After retirement, he chose not to reveal his civilian identity and kept his past secret. However, he had kept some friendship with Laurie Juspeczyk. He also maintained his friendship with Hollis and the two men met every Saturday night.
In his civilian life, he contributed essays and scholarly articles to ornithological journals, although he knew that they didn't interest many people.
In 1983 he visited Maine in order to pay a visit to Byron Lewis (the former Mothman) in the hospital, on behalf of Mason. On his way back to the parking lot, he heard the screech of a mature owl and was filled with a feeling that renewed his excitement about birds. He shared his experience in the Journal of the American Ornithological Society.
Events of WatchmenEdit
Dreiberg was the first of the "masks" that Rorschach warned after the death of Edward Blake. The two shared a tense reunion, with Rorschach chastising him for his decision to retire, and Dreiberg criticizing Rorschach's insistence on continuing his vigilante activities. Shortly thereafter he met with Laurie Juspeczyk, the second Silk Spectre, at Rafael's and the two reminisced about their times as costumed adventurers.
Dr. Manhattan goes into self-imposed exile on Mars after Laurie leaves him and he is tricked into believing he was harming the people he loved. Simultaneously, an attempt is made on the life of Adrian Veidt, and Dreiberg takes in Laurie as a precaution. The two explore their feelings for each other and attempt to make love. However, Dan experiences a moment of impotency and they are unable to. During her stay, they are made aware of the capture of Rorschach by authorities, as he is charged with the murder of Moloch. After a nightmare, Dreiberg goes to his lab, where he expresses how helpless he feels in the face of impending nuclear war. He and Laurie decide to take up arms once again and experience that sense of power they had before. Donning their outfits, they take the Owlship and patrol New York City once again, in defiance of the Keene Act. Discovering a fire at a tenement, they come to the rescue and evacuate everybody from the burning building safely. Being in his Nite Owl persona again revives Dan's spirit, and he and Laurie are able to make love in the Owlship above the city.
Deciding the time had come to act rather than stand by, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre break Rorschach out of Sing Sing. Afterward, as Laurie is taken to Mars by Manhattan, Dreiberg and Rorschach explore the New York underworld looking for clues on whatever plot is taking place. They discover that the prison break led to a series of anti-superhero riots, including the murder of Dreiberg's predecessor and mentor as Nite Owl, Hollis Mason. Dreiberg swears vengeance, assaulting one of the men responsible with such fury that Rorschach, known for his brutality in dispatching criminals, has to restrain him. During their interrogations, they determine that their leads point to none other then their former comrade Ozymandias. The two head to Karnak, Veidt's fortress in Antarctica, in the Owlship.
In Antarctica, Veidt reveals his plan to send a genetically-engineered "alien" to New York City, knowing it will kill millions of people. His hope is that it will be perceived as an extraterrestrial threat forcing the nations of Earth to end their Cold War and work together. Although Dreiberg and Rorschach try to stop him, he reveals that his plan is already in motion, well-ahead of their arrival. They are forced to watch the devastation and look on as the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union end their standoff and agree to work together to end the "alien" threat.
After a brief fight, joined by Dr. Manhattan and Silk Spectre, most of the masks (except Rorschach) agree with Veidt that, although terrible, the preceding events are preferable to a nuclear holocaust. Rorschach tries to leave to tell the world of the plan but is intercepted by Manhattan, who reluctantly kills him. Veidt agrees to give Dreiberg and Laurie protection at his fortress. After coming in from killing Rorschach, Osterman sees Dreiberg and Laurie laying together on a fur rug, naked. He smiles, shares a brief conversation with Veidt, and departs for parts unknown.
In the final act, Dreiberg and Laurie have taken on a new identity, Sam and Sandra Hollis, since they are assumed to have been killed in the "alien" attack. They pay a visit to Laurie's mother, Sally Jupiter, where mother and daughter make amends for years of animosity.
Dan Dreiberg continued his career as a costumed vigilante after the Dimensional Incursion Event and secretly started his own company MerlinCorp which provided law enforcement agencies throughout the country with their own versions of Nite Owl technology to fight crime. Sometime in the early 1990s, Dreiberg and Laurie Juspeczyk had broken up due to irreconcilable differences. In 1995, Dreiberg and Juspeczyk put aside their differences and worked together to stop the Oklahoma City Bombing and killed the perpetrator Timothy McVeigh. In violation of the Keene Act, they were both arrested by the FBI. While Juspeczyk chose to cooperate and ended up working for the Bureau, Dreiberg refused to speak to the authorities and remains behind bars as of 2019.
As a child, Dreiberg loved birds, airplanes, the idea of flying, and mythology.
Like Hollis Mason before him, Dan Dreiberg was friendly, honest, and affable. Also like Mason, he lacked psychological issues like the ones that tainted many of his colleagues. Dreiberg appears to have old-fashioned tastes in music, preferring 1930-1940s jazz (Billie Holiday, Nellie Lutcher, Louis Jordan) to modern pop music.
There is a vague suggestion that Dreiberg may have been sexually inexperienced before he became involved with Laurie Juspeczyk. Though his use of the word "impotent" during a chapter has also led to the hypothesis he may have suffered from impotency.
- Genius Level Intelligence: Dreiberg has demonstrated immense mental prowess throughout his career as a costumed adventurer. Although nowhere near the likes of Ozymandias and the nearly omniscient Doctor Manhattan, Dreiberg is much more intelligent than the average person, with his intellect granting him two degrees from Harvard University.
- Master Engineer: Dreiberg is an immensely formidable genius in vehicles' operations and general engineering, being able to construct numerous technological wonders to aid his crusade against crime. These devices include not only his iconic and highly futuristic Owlship, but also his suit, handheld laser, night vision goggles and Rorschach's grapple gun.
- Master Martial Artist: Dreiberg is a master martial artist, with his skill allowing him to defeat most, if not all common thugs and costumed villains. However, despite his skill and fervor, Dreiberg is nowhere near a match for Ozymandias, a nearly superhuman combatant in his own right.
- Master Pilot: Dreiberg is able to fly the highly complex Owlship, a futuristic aircraft of his own design, to great effect. For years Dreiberg navigated the ship through the concrete jungles of New York City, only ever faltering due to an engine failure in Antarctica caused by freezing temperatures.
- Expert Businessman: Dreiberg managed to secretly start his own company MerlinCorp which provided law enforcement agencies throughout the country with their own versions of Nite Owl technology to fight crime. Dreiberg managed it in secrecy for several years until it was seized by the government following his arrest.
Dreiberg was a skilled inventor and mechanic, talents he could pursue thanks to his large inheritance. His garage was full of devices and gadgets. In retrospect, he thought of them as kitsch, camp, and unneeded for the hunt of muggers and hookers.
His suit had goggles for night vision. A belt had pockets that contained respirator masks, smoke bombs, a fingerprint kit, pocket laser, and a console that controlled remotely Archie and other devices. He wore night-vision goggles that operated when he turned them.
In addition to his owl suit, he had additional suits for specific purposes, like for arctic cold or for underwater work. He had designed an exo-skeleton suit prototype but during trying it broke his arm and abandoned it.
Patrick Wilson portrays the second Nite Owl, Dan Dreiberg, in the film. Although not a comics fan, Wilson enjoyed Watchmen upon reading it and opted to gain weight for the part, rather than wear a fat-suit. Stephen McHattie portrays the elder Nite Owl, Hollis Mason. John Cusack, who is an admitted fan of the graphic novel, expressed great interest in playing the role.
Much like Batman, Dan's cape is like a wingsuit, parachute or hang gliding gear, making his falls slow and allowing him to glide through the air. The cape expands and flies like a kite, but it does not make the appearance of wings, as Batman's does.
Despite his age and his weight, Daniel is portrayed with superhuman strength and fighting abilities, allowing him to overpower men and send people flying through the air with great ease. His punches can easily break bones and joints, with him being able to cripple a man with a single punch to the leg and completely destroying another man's elbow and the joints inside of it, with the bones in the arm piercing the flesh. He could jump several feet into the air with a light skip, allowing him to knee a man in the face while in mid-air and knock him several feet. His strength was immune to the momentum of his opponents, as his punches cause attacking opponents to flip into the air or be knocked to the ground instantly. Only Laurie Juspeczyk and Edward Blake had his type of strength and fighting abilities, while Ozymandias far exceeded all three of them.
In the film, Nite Owl is portrayed less as a worn-out vigilante and appears somewhat more physically fit than he was in the comics. Additionally, some of his scenes in the film were altered than they were originally from the comic, such as him being the one to tell Veidt of the Comedian's death and warn him of the threat posed by the "mask killer" instead of Rorschach. Another difference is that Dreiberg's and Juspeczyk's identities were never revealed; thus, they never adopted the names Sam and Sandra Hollis during the film's epilogue. The biggest difference in the film, however, is that during the climax, Dreiberg isn't as accepting of Veidt's plan as he was originally in the comics, and when Rorschach leaves, Dreiberg follows him to the entrance of Veidt's fortress in an attempt to persuade the latter to at least remain silent, before witnessing Rorschach's death by Osterman's hand, prompting Dreiberg to scream in agony and disbelief. Dreiberg runs back inside Veidt's fortress just as Osterman departs, and proceeds to attack Veidt in a fit of rage. When Veidt asserts that his actions were justified as he has saved mankind from nuclear war, Dreiberg argues that Veidt hasn't idealized mankind, but has deformed and mutilated it instead, declaring that as Veidt's legacy, and "the real practical joke", before choosing to depart with Laurie in Archie, leaving Veidt to ponder on his actions alone.
Nit Owl is a main character in Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and published by DC Comics. He is a modified version of the various Blue Beetle characters created for Fox Feature Syndicate and later sold to Charlton Comics. Coincidentally, he also bears a similar costumed appearance to Batman.