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Author Topic: Zero hour  (Read 6619 times)
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dto
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« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2005, 05:29:34 PM »

Yes, Zero Hour was only four issues long, compared to the twelve-issue Crisis on Infinite Earths or eight for Millennium.  But being the major “crossover event” of 1994, Zero Hour interrupted every DC title (28 at the time) with a special issue, plus a “#0” book the following month to spotlight the new Zero Hour continuity.  Adding all the groundwork arcs and direct lead-in stories (the introduction of the Linear Men, Monarch and Bart Allen aka Impulse; “Emerald Twilight” and “Emerald Fallout”, JLA’s “Judgment Day”, the future falling to pieces in the Legion books, etc.), there was a lot of events going on.

But for the most part these crossovers did not advance the main Zero Hour storyline, nor did they have lasting effects on the affected titles.  The main exceptions were Team Titans, L.E.G.I.O.N., Valor (last issues) and The Legion of Super-Heroes (completely rebooted in Issue #0).  Issue #0 was also the debut of five new series (Primal Force, R.E.B.E.L.S., Starman, Fate and Manhunter), plus the Xenobrood mini-series.  

After slightly more than a decade, not much of Zero Hour’s legacy remains intact compared to the great Crisis of two decades ago.  All the new Zero Hour-spawned books are gone (there’s now a new Stargirl, Dr. Fate and Manhunter), the Legion’s been rebooted AGAIN, the Linear Men have been rendered irrelevant by Hypertime, Hal Jordan’s back, and so on.  Even many of the JSA’s casualties are back in action.

While some were entertaining stories, most of the Zero Hour crossovers were pointless “fluff”.  The worst example was Superman: The Man of Steel #37, where a brief meeting between Superman and Batman in the actual Zero Hour books (only a few panels long) is elaborated into an entire issue where Batman is literally interrupted by “himselves”!  While it’s fun trying to identify the various Batmen who morph in and out (including “The Dark Knight Returns” and an “Adam West” version), there’s absolutely no storyline.  The Planetary/Batman crossover “Night on Earth” was a far better treatment of this “multiple Batmen” gimmick – those unfamiliar with the Planetary series should read the summary at http://home.earthlink.net/~rkkman/frames/summaries/SPB.htm, and then browse through http://home.earthlink.net/~rkkman/frames/ for more background information on the Planetary team.

Not EVERYTHING was as forgettable as Superman: The Man of Steel #37, thank Rao.  Superboy #8 had Kon-El encountering a displaced Kal-El Superboy over Smallville.  This meeting proved so popular that Kon-El and Clark teamed up again in 1999's ”Hyper-Tension” arc (Superboy #60-65), along with nearly EVERY Elseworlds “Superboy” then published.

A similar teamup occurred in Robin #10, where Tim Drake meets a young Dick Grayson still in his “pixie shoes”.  A nice mini-adventure, but personally I think DC missed an opportunity since Tim had already worked with Nightwing before.  An appearance by Jason Todd (either the original Pre-Crisis ex-circus acrobat or the dearly departed ex-street kid) would have had FAR more emotional impact.

Superman met his parents in Smallville during Superman #93 – Ma and Pa Kent PLUS the Byrne-era Jor-El and Lana!  Even though we know the Kryptonians come from another timeline (where Krypton survived and Jor-El concocted a means to counter the Eradicator effect for a brief visit to Earth), it was nice to see the two expressing joy at this reunion and Jor-El voicing his approval of his son’s superhero activities.  Their deaths immediately afterwards left a sour taste in my mouth.   Sad

Bruce Wayne also met his parents again in Detective Comics #678 – AND himself – in Crime Alley.  But while saving the Waynes Batman realized the killer WASN’T Joe Chill, planting a seed of doubt.  Even though Batman knows it’s just another timeline, this event leads him to question whether the murderer of his parents was actually brought to justice.  This uncertainty resurfaced recently in the Superman/Batman series, when Luthor played mind games with Batman by making it appear that METALLO was the killer.  Currently in this same series Batman again saves his parents and goes “poof!” into non-existence, because he just robbed young Bruce of the impetus to become the Caped Crusader!

An intriguing new character was introduced in Batman #511 – Barbara Gordon, Batgirl!  What’s so intriguing and new about Babs, you ask?  Well, in this issue she seriously confuses the Dynamic Duo before freaking out the crippled Barbara Gordon Oracle in her Clocktower!  This alternate timeline Batgirl plays a major supporting role in the main Zero Hour series, finally sacrificing herself to save Damage so he can restart the Universe with the Big Bang.  But what’s even more surprising was that according to other message boards this Batgirl was originally supposed to survive and REPLACE the original Barbara Gordon as the Dominoed Dare-Doll!  (Thus, Cassandra Cain would never become the current Batgirl.)  HOW they were going to keep TWO Barbaras in Gotham was never explained, so perhaps DC was wise in getting cold feet and killing the doppleganger off.  

Before I read of this idea, I always thought the Zero Hour Batgirl was planted to imitate Supergirl’s death in the Crisis – there’s even a shot of Green Arrow holding Babs in the classic “Crisis #7” pose.  And her frequently-quoted “I just want to live” made it OBVIOUS that she wasn’t going to make it.   :wink:   But apparently there were other plans for this girl…

But as a whole, not many of these crossovers were memorable.  It almost feels that many writers simply threw together a generic “temporal paradox tale with a gimmick guest who vanishes on the last page”, made their necessary adjustments in Issue #0, and then continued on after this two-month interruption.  This impression tends to minimize the overall impact of Zero Hour, not enhance the main story as crossovers are intended.
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davidelliott
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« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2006, 02:15:43 AM »


While some were entertaining stories, most of the Zero Hour crossovers were pointless “fluff”.  The worst example was Superman: The Man of Steel #37, where a brief meeting between Superman and Batman in the actual Zero Hour books (only a few panels long) is elaborated into an entire issue where Batman is literally interrupted by “himselves”!  While it’s fun trying to identify the various Batmen who morph in and out (including “The Dark Knight Returns” and an “Adam West” version), there’s absolutely no storyline.  The Planetary/Batman crossover “Night on Earth” was a far better treatment of this “multiple Batmen” gimmick – those unfamiliar with the Planetary series should read the summary at http://home.earthlink.net/~rkkman/frames/summaries/SPB.htm, and then browse through http://home.earthlink.net/~rkkman/frames/ for more background information on the Planetary team.

Not EVERYTHING was as forgettable as Superman: The Man of Steel #37, thank Rao.  Superboy #8 had Kon-El encountering a displaced Kal-El Superboy over Smallville.  This meeting proved so popular that Kon-El and Clark teamed up again in 1999's ”Hyper-Tension” arc (Superboy #60-65), along with nearly EVERY Elseworlds “Superboy” then published.

A similar teamup occurred in Robin #10, where Tim Drake meets a young Dick Grayson still in his “pixie shoes”.  A nice mini-adventure, but personally I think DC missed an opportunity since Tim had already worked with Nightwing before.  An appearance by Jason Todd (either the original Pre-Crisis ex-circus acrobat or the dearly departed ex-street kid) would have had FAR more emotional impact.


Funny, I pulled my box of comics out of the attic and re-read ZH...  I LIKED those 3 issues in particular.  Jon Bog did an AWESOME job of drawing the different Batmen very faithfully!

Anyway, with the main story in ZH, I too am confused.  It started off well, but left more questions than answers... How is Jay Garrick "young" again, after being aged (with the rest of the JSA)... the ending was rushed, if Waverider got the heroes back to the point they left and made sure the events wouldn't loop back and start again then why would the events happened in the "new" universe?

Great art, but CONFUSING!!
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nightwing
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« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2006, 02:35:32 AM »

As far as Jay Garrick's age, I always got the impression Waid said, "Screw Jurgens, the Flash is my book. I'll write Jay the way I want to."

Which is pretty much the problem with a company that wanted, on the one hand, to do crossover series that involved every book they produced but, on the other hand, willingly handed total editorial control over to whatever prima donna was on a book in a given month.  Ultimately, if each creator in his individual little fiefdom decides he doesn't want to play by the rules, there's no way you can make him.

Not that I'm complaining about Waid, mind you.  Aging Jay (and the rest of them) was a dumb idea that SHOULD have been ignored.  But the mere fact that Waid and Jurgens could both be writing the same character at the same time with no coordination whatever shows the state DC was in at that time.

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davidelliott
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« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2006, 07:48:24 AM »

Point taken...

As other previous posters have mentioned, I thought this was the series that was going to "fix" the problems in the DCU since the Crisis... but it was such a mess.

I guess THEORETICALLY it would have tightened things up, but didn't.  When you FORCE changes, rather than let them happen NATURALLY, things become a bigger mess.

Also, the big mistake, too, is keeping the JSA rooted in having WWII origins.  Keeping those heroes young is no longer needed with the unified Earth.  In 30 years those characters would have been around for 100 years.  Let them die naturally and gracefully and pass the torch. 
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Michel Weisnor
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« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2006, 02:56:24 PM »

Zero Hour introduced the Justice Society of America to a new generation of readers. Of course, it was not through Zero Hour, in itself, but what spun off afterwards. In high school, I cut my teeth on back issues of Starman. After Starman, DC launched Stars and STRIPE, JSA, Hourman, and Doctor Midnight.  The adage "everything old is new again" couldn't be more true. As my tastes began to change, I tracked down All-Star Squadron, America vs. the Justice Society, Jonni Thunder,  Infinity Inc, and Young All-Stars. Now, I read JLA/JSA crossover trades. While Zero Hour didn't achieve DC's intended goal, it did, inadvertently, usher in new reader interest in Golden Age characters.


       
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