Dan Dreiberg was the second Nite Owl. He inherited the title from Hollis Mason.
Dan Dreiberg was inspired by Hollis Mason’s career and his love of predatory birds (especially Owls). With an inherited wealth he purchased and/or designed and constructed a variety of superheroic paraphernalia, notably the Owlship called ‘Archie’ (after Archimedes). Archie was an airship armed with flame-throwers, missiles, and all the other gadgets necessary to begin a war on crime without any sort of metahuman power.
Dreiberg was somewhat self-conscious and clearly liberal, and a sensitive intellectual in his everyday dealings. He would tend to over-think before acting, and had an apparent fetish for superheroics and all its trappings. He was most effective when in costume, quickly shedding his inhibitions. He was considered to be the most "human" character in Watchmen, which played as a wonderful contrast to Dr. Manhattan. Dan was very romantic in the sense that he adored the little things like Disney and knights in shining armor. In a way he was childish, but all of that would come off once he put on his cape and cowl, which would "awaken the beast within", who, apparently, had a big appetite!
Dreiberg asked Mason’s permission in using the Nite Owl name and so began his career. He teamed up with Rorschach (Walter Kovacs) and was part of an abortive attempt by Captain Metropolis to form the Crime Busters.
In 2012, Nite Owl II, along with the rest of the Watchmen, the Minutemen and Moloch, received a limited prequel series developing his origin more. The first issue spanned from his early daydreams of being a hero, to the first meeting of the Crimebusters. We learn that he lived with an abusive father and a loving, but distant mother, and by the time he was 17 he had figured out Nite Owl's identity. He arranges a meeting, and after the death of Dan's father, the two become close. Hollis begins to train Dan to replace him, and, though Dan began to put his inheritance into new gadgets and technology, Hollis asks him to finish college before he gets into crime-fighting. Dreiberg respects his wishes, and 2 years later he takes to the streets after a blackout riot as Nite Owl II. Almost immediately following, Dan meets Rorschach, and the two partner up to fight crime. Soon after, the two are invited to the first meeting of the Crimebusters, where Dan is introduced to Silk Spectre II, believing the two are almost destined to be together.
In issue 2, Nite Owl II and Rorschach are chasing down a thug, when they run into a very indecent Twilight Lady, who immediately sets off Rorschach's fury. Dreiberg protects her and tosses Rorschach out the door. The two split up, and Twilight lady tips off Nite Owl on some dead prostitutes. He takes it upon himself to look into it, convincing himself "one more dead slut" does matter.
Issue 3, Nite Owl II and Twilight lady team up to find the hookers' killer, breaking into a pimp's base and interrogating them. The two wind up having sex afterwards, and she describes him as a very protecting and kind hero, complementing him and claiming she was proud to be his first, to which he was quite embarrassed. Later on, he visits Hollis's home, and Hollis apologizes for being so strict on how Dan needs to hold up the Nite Owl legacy. He shares an excerpt from his novel, containing his darkest secret, and Dan breaks down upon reading it.
Dreiberg retired in 1977 when the Keene Act was passed, outlawing vigilantism. After his retirement he quietly mastered in aeronautics and zoology at Harvard, contributing scholarly articles to ornithological journals.
In 1985 Dreiberg was contacted by a still very active Rorschach, who was investigating the murder of Edward Blake ( The Comedian). Rorschach believed that someone was targeting masked heroes and warned Dreiberg, possibly out of professional courtesy, or maybe because of their history together. Rorschach seemed to genuinely care about Dreiberg, and in many respects considered him as his only friend.
Soon, Dreiberg was forced to return to vigilantism, along with the Silk Spectre II, Laurie Juspeczyk, who later became his wife, and who was the daughter of the original Silk Spectre, Sally Jupiter. This was necessary to break Rorschach out of prison and to stop Ozymandias from his scheme to ‘save the world from itself’. They failed. After the incident he and Juspeczyk took the names of Sam and Sandra Hollis, and briefly visited Laurie's mother, where Dan jokingly brought up the subject of children.
Character Design & Inspiration
Nite Owl I was inspired by Dan Garrett, the original Blue Beetle, while Nite Owl II homages Ted Kord, the 2nd Blue Beetle.
Furthermore, the obvious resemblance of the costumes for both Nite Owl I and II to those of Robin and Batman respectively is reinforced upon watching the film. Other similarities have been drawn between Nite Owl II and Batman, namely that both are non-powered humans with vast amounts of wealth, and both rely on gadgets and training, rather than superpowers of any kind.
Watchmen movie (2009)
Both Nite Owls appear in the movie. Though there has been some criticism that the second Nite Owl's costume is too modern, it is agreeably much cooler and less plain then the comic version. While he retains his night vision goggles, utility belt and thick cape from the comic, the brown and grey spandex/leather bodysuit has been replaced with body armor. His personality and character development, however, remain fully intact.
Patrick Wilson portrays Nite Owl (II) in the 2009 film Watchmen. Wilson heard of the graphic novel before receiving the script, but he did not read it until later on. Two years prior to interviews at Comic-Con, Wilson read the comic and thought it was great. He maintains that the creative interpretation of the film stays true in spirit to the source material, and that even purists upset by changes should agree it is a great film. Wilson gained 30 lbs for the role (rather than wear a fat-suit), which he felt was essential to portray both the physical and emotional state of Dan after having given up his life as a superhero.
Watchmen : The End is Nigh (video game)
Watchmen: The End is Nigh Part I
Nite Owl II appears along side his crime fighting partner Rorschach in the downloadable Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Windows PC video game Watchmen: The End Is Nigh, taking placing in 1977 while the Nite Owl Rorschach team was still together. The game was released in two parts for downloading, or as a combo on the Xbox, or included in the Ultimate Edition of the Blu-Ray DVD of the Watchmen film for the Playstation 3. In the first chapter, Rorschach and Nite Owl are investigating a breakout from Sing-Sing, where they must fight through hordes of criminal only to discover their old foe, Underboss has escaped. Left without a clue to his whereabouts, the duo fight through biker gangs on the way to the Rum Runner bar, where they learn that Underboss is being supplied by the weapons dealer Jimmy the Gimmick, who is working out of a rundown amusement park under Top Knot control. The crimefighters eventually track Jimmy down, and save him from death, but threaten to let him die unless he tells them where Underboss is. Jimmy claims the weapon shipments have been going to Underboss' old hideout in the sewers, but before he can give any more information someone shoots a sniper rifle, severing the cable from Nite Owls grappling gun, causing him to plummet, though he only gets knocked out.
Following Jimmy's lead, Rorschach and Nite Owl enter the sewers where they are confronted by a number of mercenaries. While the heroes don't find Underboss in his old base, they do find the FBI Associate Director Mark Felt tied up and brutally tortured. He warns them that someone is going to kill Bob Woodward and Carl Burnstein, who want to expose the scandal at Watergate. The heroes go to stop the murder, but are attacked by the police, where it is revealed they have been set up. They fight their way to a construction yard, where they find the reporters already dead. They fight Underboss, who is wielding a flamethrower, but he claims to have been set up as well. He is killed when he is shot in the head by The Comedian, who was the true killer of the reporters, working for the government to cover up the scandal. He dismisses the duo as "amateurs".
Watchmen: The End is Nigh Part II
Part two begins with Rorschach takes the case to find a missing girl, Violet Greene, taking Nite Owl with him despite his partners complaints. Rorschach shows a video sent to the girl’s parents of her being “disciplined” at a seedy strip club. The two investigate, beating down thugs and guards at every step. Investigating the club, they discover the kidnapper is the Twilight Lady, a notorious member of the criminal underground and an ex-girlfriend of Nite Owl. The two break into her mansion, and as they fight through her guards they grow more and more hostile, Rorschach is solely focused on bringing the Twilight Lady to justice and rescuing Violet, but Nite Owl just wants to rescue the girl and let the Twilight Lady on her own. They find Violet and discover that she enjoys being a prostitute, and Nite Owl wants to leave, claiming that she’s there of her own free will, but Rorschach claims that she’s been brainwashed. They chase the Twilight Lady through her mansion, all the way up to her roof. After a fight with her “favorite toys” they battle the Lady herself, eventually throwing her into a skyline. Rorschach goes to finish the job, but Nite Owl tells him that it’s enough. Rorschach sees this as an act of weakness and the two come to blows. The player can pick which hero they want to play as- If Rorschach wins the fight, he steals Nite Owl’s grappling gun and kills the Twilight Lady. Nite Owl snaps at him in rage to go away and Rorschach obliges, leaving his former friend to continue his career solo while Nite Owl joins the Comedian to clean up rioters off the streets.
In both games Rorscach shares the same combat system. He focuses on crowd control, and most his attacks and combos allow him to punish large numbers of enemies. His rage mode allows him to defeat lesser enemies in a single puch and deals much greater damage for a short period of time, and lets him bull rush foes, tackling them to the ground. He also heavily relies on counter attacks, which give him time to heal and provide the gamer with an amusing mini-cutscene. Rorscach is able to take weapons off of uncouncious thugs or simply steal them and turn them against their wielders. He can also pick locks, which allow him to find hidden combos and "Rorscach Cards" which increase his maximum health and rage meter size.