Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Zero Hour, Part 1

Company-wide crossovers in comic books are a standard gimmick to get people to buy more comic books. The first of these was Marvel Comics' Secret Wars that ran from May 1984 until April 1985. DC Comics got into the company-wide crossover game in April 1985 with Crisis On Infinite Earths which was been in production since 1982. In it, DC attempted to streamline their universe and reboot a few of their characters. Initially, the idea was deemed a success but as the years went on, more continuity errors emerged and it was time again for a streamlining of the DC Universe. Following the aftermath, and using many of the same characters, of Armageddon 2001, Zero Hour: Crisis In Time officially began in Showcase '94 #8 on June 2, 1994. The first issue of Zero Hour: Crisis In Time (#4, as the series counted down from #4 to #0) would be released on July 14, 1994.

Zero Hour holds a special place in my heart as it was my first company-wide crossover. I had started reading comics in late 1992 with the Death of Superman. I even attempted to collect every comic with the Zero Hour banner on it. I got about a dozen issues and that was it. 2019 was the 25th anniversary of Zero Hour and to commemorate the occasion, DC Comics released an omnibus that collects every issue of the Zero Hour crossover. Over 1,000 pages of...fair and middling stories.

The story starts out with Waverider and Rip Hunter discovering some sort of disruption of the time stream. Believing the disruption to be caused by Hank Hall, now Monarch but previously Hawk of Hawk and Dove, they go to find the cause. Turns out that Monarch is plotting something but the time disruptions are not his doing. After a short battle, Monarch upgrades himself to Extant and takes Waverider's time travel wristband enabling Extant to bounce back and forth through time. Rip Hunter reveals that Monarch was originally supposed to die during their battle but is now more powerful than ever and all of time is at stake.
Showcase '94 #9 by Dan Jurgens, Frank Fosco, Ken Branch.
Batman is the first to undergo a change in his timeline as, in an effort to protect his parents, Bruce Wayne was the one shot and killed leaving Thomas and Martha Wayne to mourn their child. Batman spends the night hunting for the killer but young Bruce wasn't killed by Joe Chill but by someone else. He then realizes that he has his parents back and races back to Wayne Manor only to find everything back to normal. Batman would go on to a timeline where Batgirl wasn't shot and paralyzed by the Joker and the goofy 1940s Alfred showing up. This is what happens with some of the characters: They meet past versions of themselves or enter an alternate timeline. The Flash was dealing with the discovery of a young speedster named Impulse. Because of Impulse, The Flash winds up in the 64th Century where time is starting to be eaten by entropy. It's theorized that if Flash runs fast enough he could create a shockwave big enough to collapse the time rift.
Zero Hour #4 by Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway.
Sadly it doesn't work and The Flash is vaporized and the entire century is erased. Waverider and Hunter go to 5800 A.D. where Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) is there. Green Lantern is also unable to stop the rift. All the different incarnations of Hawkman are combined into one single character. As more centuries from the past and future are erased, Waverider realizes that there used to be more than one universe--a multiverse--that was consolidated into just one universe and that is the reason for the disruptions and creates the perfect opportunity for someone to go in and change all of time. With the help of Kyle Rayner Green Lantern, Superman and Metron, Waverider gets a message out to all the other heroes to meet at Vanishing Point and get ready for battle.
Zero Hour #4 by Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway.
Zero Hour does a great job of confining the main story in just the five issues but also showing what is going on in other titles. Superman meets up with every version of Batman, reunited with his Kryptonian parents, met Alpha-Centurion: the protector of Metropolis, and his parents in the 1940s who weren't blessed with a baby from the stars. Green Lantern is given a history by original Green Lantern Alan Scott, the Legion of Super-Heroes are trying to save the 30th Century from blinking out of existence while seeing their pasts be altered as well, the original Superboy returns to inspire the Legion and then sent to face off against the new Superboy that was introduced during the Reign of the Supermen.
Valor #23, by Kurt Busiek, Colleen Doran, Dave Cooper.
Zero Hour #3, by Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway
In New York City, all the heroes gather and try to figure out what to do. Meanwhile, at Vanishing Point, the Justice Society are trying to find out a way to help since they've had their own experience with time anomalies. When the JSA arrives, Extant is already there while Waverider, Hawkman, and Hawkgirl, enter the timestream to help create a god out of Hawkman. Extant uses his powers to re-age the Justice Society. Atom, Dr. Fate, Hourman all die of old age while Wildcat and Dr. Midnight are now upwards of 80-years-old. Only Alan Scott and Jay Garrick (The Golden Age Flash) make it out unscathed and they opt to retire instead of continuing on.
Zero Hour #2, by Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway

The series Team Titans does an interesting issue where they show normal people going through the time rifts. Non-powered humans having to deal with dinosaurs, cowboys and Native Americans, protests from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and of course their own villain trying to use this opportunity to do evil instead of just taking a day off. Entropy continues getting closer and is right on the heels of this century. Our heroes are able to use their energies along with Metron's Mobius Chair to close up the rift saving everything...for the moment. In the 30th Century, a mysterious figure has arrived to reopen the rift and almost immediately things begin erasing anew.
Zero Hour #2, by Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway