Zero Hour Strikes! Zero Hour #3

Bass and Siskoid cover Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #3, in which the Justice Society of America makes its last stand. How does it rate? Well... I guess you'll just have to listen.

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11 responses to “Zero Hour Strikes! Zero Hour #3

  1. Girding myself for this one: Okay.

    Needless to say, I was really pissed after reading this issue back in the day, and ultimately it’s Zero Hour’s biggest black eye to me. It’s not so much that the JSA die and are unilaterally defeated, it’s more the way they are just portrayed as lambs onto the slaughter. Their “sacrifice” doesn’t buy the other heroes anything, really, because they are all still clueless at this point. In COIE, Flash and Supergirl’s deaths meant something, and moved the heroes closer to their goals, but THE veteran hero team is just taken out like chumps, and editorial hands are ALL over this. I think I had already heard why the wonderful (and well-selling) Justice Society of America series was cancelled a year earlier; Mike Carlin felt the title was an embarrassment to the DC line. These old fogies were holding the new heroes, and potential new readers, back. Needless to say I disagree, and time has proven him VERY wrong.

    But no one came in and gave the JSA a reprieve, like Geoff Johns did for Nightwing, who was marked for death by Dan Didio in Infinite Crisis. Writers like Mark Waid and James Robinson, and later David Goyer and Johns just did the best they could to ignore or rectify the massacre here.

    I may be a bit of hypocrite, since I’m digging the DC Universe/CW Stargirl series, (SPOILERS)

    since it begins with a scene not entirely unlike what we see here. But at least the thrust of that show is all about getting justice for the JSA, defeating their enemies, and continuing their legacy.

    Oh, and in a total nerdout moment, it was actually the chronal energies of Shag’s favorite villain, Ian Karkull who gave the JSA their extended youth and vitality. Nebula Man was the guy who sent the Seven Soldiers of Victory bouncing around the time stream, with similar results of them emerging in the “present” still young and vital.


  2. When Zero Hour came out I was not the fan of the JSA that I would eventually become. I remember reading this issue and going, “Oh man, I kind of like those characters,” but it didn’t bug me like it would have if I read this six years later. Which is why I can ultimately give it a pass while still disliking it.

    But here’s the thing…

    Without this I don’t think we would have gotten Starman, or Starman would not have turned into what it turned into. That was kind of a safe house for the Golden Age characters. A place for them to go and stay away from everyone that wanted them to die or just disappear. And without Starman being as good as it was we wouldn’t have gotten the JSA title in 1999. Well, to be honest, without JLA turning into a franchise AND James Robinson having some juice because of Starman we wouldn’t have gotten JSA and JSA was what ultimately made me fall completely in love with the team.

    So, I guess what I’m saying is that a lot of people had to be mad for me to find something I loved.

    I’d feel guilty but it is what it is.

    Then again, with a global pandemic and everything else going on right now I can’t bring myself to be pissed off about something that happened in a comic 26 years ago. I am just speaking for myself. This isn’t a judgment call. Everyone processes things differently.

  3. Well, here we are.

    When I read this all those years ago, my thought was, “oh, okay. Geezers put out to pasture. No big loss in the GA Atom, Starman. I like Flash 1, but c’mon, how long can can that guy run? As for Sentinel/GA GL, well, I hate magic heroes so this isn’t THAT big a deal.”

    And then I read the Golden Age, And I thought, “man, what a send off for a boatload of characters I don’t really care about but now do.”

    But honestly, I’m glad they got sidelined. Keep in mind the attitude of DC at the time. One true Lantern. The stage was set for a new Green Arrow. The Flash (Wally) was reallycoming into his own, so did we need another Flash running around (Sidebar: Yes, Zero Hour would lead to a number of Flashes, old and new, in Terminal Velocity, possibly the greatest Flash story ever – but I digress…)

    My point was DC was into simplifying. And I liked that. I felt like the Golden Age heroes were my dad’s heroes – and Wally West, Kyle Rayner, etc. were mine. Reading about the Golden Age characters felt a lot like visiting a nursing home – yeah, it’s nice to catch up, but there’s someone dying every 5 minutes and the smell is kind of getting to me. Like Michael Bailey, it was James Robinson’s Starman that made me feel and give a shit about an Old Sandman and Diane, about Ted Knight. Hell, he ALMOST made me care about the Red Bee. But what made it work was that they were celebrated for the heroes they were, not for trying to keep on with superheroics.

    Now that said, I’m older now. I’m probably a couple of Dick Grayson’s old! “My heroes” have fallen away, and that’s cool. And I now realize there was room for everyone.

  4. Impressive Podcast. Most Impressive. I remember seeing this book on the shelf at my local Brick and motor store. In collage. But, I was collecting Captain America and all the Super Man comics. And something else Oh RPG stuff. So I didn’t buy it. But it looked cool.

    1. Opps no way to edit. I liked These guys and their return. And Jay was a perfect mentor for Walley in the Flash. And I always liked Wild Cat and thought Yolanda was cool in Infinity Inc. Glad to see her on Star Girl. And the JSA now appearing on that show. So glad that went from one day Cotton canceling them… to now their every ware. All over the Arrow verse. In the JLI.. On the Brave in the Bold. So Roy Thomas’s run inspired enough kids to grow and have JSA every ware. The Goeef Johns run was great. On the JSA as was Goyer of all people.

      So glad to see from being killed off. Well being brought back to be killed off. To now being all over the place.

  5. Earth. 17 hours, 7 minutes ago.

    I think I read Crisis #8 in the grocery sack of comics my friend got in 1988. It was just like, oh, that’s how the old stiff Flash died, before the young whiny one took over. I like how he runs himself into a skeleton. He’s like the guy who does coke so he can work harder so he can buy more coke crossed with a victim of the space vampires from Lifeforce.

    Ordway inks that first Jay Garrick page so hard that I forget it was penciled by Jurgens. Why didn’t Ordway ever draw one of these events all his own (reminded that Crisis Of The Soul kind of sounded like Maximum Security, so maybe for the best?) I think the Last Days of the Justice Society of America Special was also in that grocery sack, or maybe a quarter bin in ’89?

    It’s funny how you guys referenced in the listener feedback how I can timestamp my interest in various DC properties, because I can tell you exactly when I was turned on to the JSA was on the 21st of Never. On my Comic Reader Résumé podcast I’ve noted seeing them in the first DC Sampler and buying an issue or two of All-Star Squadron, but the JSA’s role in either case was incidental. I liked Jerry Ordway’s artwork, I liked super-teams, those Infinitors looked like they might be someone to watch, et cetera. Roy Thomas would start talking about how some crap Johnny Quick pulled coincided with some speech FDR gave on the radio and zzzzzzzzz. I think I could have bought the JSA Treasury Edition, and I didn’t. I saw house ads for stuff like the America vs. mini-series and didn’t care. I either read a friend’s copy of the Ragnarok special or bought it out of a quarter bin, and wondered how a story so kill-happy could be so dull. My brother bought a few issues of the JSA mini-series by Strazewski & Lyle during the period where I could not summon a fig about the DCU, and I maybe tried to finish one? He also got an issue or two of Armageddon: Inferno for the Art Adams pages, and it sucked. I was the grimdark, Chromium embossed child who looked at Mike Parobeck’s art and thought it was for babies or fogies, ‘cuz I wanted by Rob Leetacios.

    Middle America. 17 hours, 3 minutes ago.

    One less I learned in the early ’90s, especially from the Image books, was that constantly inserting meaningless timestamps is a stronger indicator of bad writing. I’ve since realized that it’s true of movies, as well. I often complain about books from this period not giving the reader enough information, but Supermansplainer, Kid Poochie, and Mexposition sure tell me everything I didn’t need to know.

    Outside the time stream. 16 hours, 22 minutes ago, Earth time.

    Polestar’s costume was pretty nice. Not solo hero nice, but certainly Legionnaire screaming to the heavens that he always wore purple, never pink nice.

    New York City. 14 hours, 39 minutes ago.

    Some of those period costumes looked alright when drawn Image style, but Jurgens sure drains all the fun out of their excesses. I’m not trying to go out of my way to bag on Jurgens, but DC had flashier artists in their stable that could have wowed with a shot like this. Image Tom Grummett or Phil Jimenez drawing a group shpt like this. But Jurgens draws the classic heroes in that sturdy Bronze Age tradition, and everyone created after 1988 looks like your dad rapping. Why does Power Girl look like Mary Worth? I kinda liked Guy Gardner’s Warrior armor, but that was dropped by Zero Month for the bare-chested wrestler look. And even that looked good drawn by Mitch Byrd, but ripped Guy Gardner sorta misses the point. Now seems like a good time to remind everyone that Superman is a great moral rallying point but a lousy leader.

    Vanishing Point. 17 hours, 3 minutes ago.

    Why is there a time stamp when they explicitly state that this place is outside time? Wouldn’t it have been cool to drop the stamp here specifically because these parts are out of sequence to set up some “I dropped the octopus on New York 35 minutes ago” surprise reveal?

    The Timestream. 17 hours, 3 minutes ago.

    The collapsing of all hawk characters could have been a memorable sequence, but Jurgens decided to conceptualize it by doing a Rainbow Bright Care Bear Stare Triple-Lindy Synchronized Fart?

    L.E.G.I.O.N. H.Q., T.H.E. P.L.A.N.E.T. C.A.I.R.N. 14 hours, 1 minute ago.

    The timestamp was really all that was needed to cover this entire scene. Vril Dox is involved. Let’s give that a third of a page.

    Supertown. 14 hours ago.

    Don’t I need to know this is New Genesis? None of these 4th World characters looked like this in Super Powers. I don’t even remember the New Gods having a series at this time. Why am I looking at them instead of another page of Hawkman to better develop his radical transformation?

    New York City. 13 hours, 59 minutes ago.

    These a-holes have just been standing around for an hour talking about their individual Bold New Directions? Why not sit down and have a latte to catch up, All The Super-Heroes?

    Vanishing Point. 12 hours, 50 minutes ago, Earth time.

    The earth-time stuff was already annoying the first time it was used for (*snicker*) Polestar & Time Trapper, so why allasudden apply it to Vanishing Point? Also, the place where time doesn’t pass advanced six hours with just Extant torturing the JSA with Windows ’95 screensavers? Dan Jurgens’ imagination has a Charles Band budget.

    New York City. 12 hours, 45 minutes ago.

    Two hours?!? Why would you draw attention to the cluelessness of the assembled heroes with these timestamps? Have they all formed a circular train where each hero has their thumb up the butt of the one in front of them? Is this a preemptive midnight vigil for the JSA or Flash?

    I was reading interviews with the people behind Zero Hour in magazines like Wizard where they were plainly saying “we’re changing this and killing these” so when the JSAers bought it, that just checked a box of expectations. No surprise, no drama, just carnage as advertised. I kinda knew who the JSA were, and knew that 1994 was way too late to have a whole team of Captain Americas running around. It was fifty years after World War II. Enough already. My chief complaint was that they were too chicken to ice the biggest, most obvious redundancies; Geritol Lantern and The Whizzer. I mean, kill ’em all, but certainly target the duplicates with hubcaps on their head before characters like Wildcat who looked better than a purple, red & green eyesore, or whose legacy was already cut down by Eclipso or cancer or whatever.

    New York City. 12 hours, 42 minutes ago.
    Again, folks take your shots at Image, but I’m not seeing a lot of anything but figures here.

    Vanishing Point. 12 hours, 38 minutes ago, Earth time.

    You know, why didn’t we just say Extant was Waverider and less Captain Atom and Hawk off the hook?

    I don’t feel like some of “my” versions of mantles like Green Lantern or Green Arrow got their full term or were treated fairly in the end, but I could have accepted the new hotness on principle. My problem was that DC effectively launched a white supremacist campaign in the new millennium with the old guard from baby boomers’ childhoods overturning younger, more diverse replacements. Sure, it was laughable when they tried to retcon generic dude Kyle Rayner into a secret Irish-Latino years into his run, but that was still better than Geoff Johns’ WASP brigade. Seriously, how does a Lebanese creator kill so many ’90s legacies-of-color with a clear conscience while his own legacy is mandatory whiteness of all icons, plus a token gun-toting Muslim Green Lantern on his way out the door? Technically, Stargirl is a little blond ’90s legacy, so I wonder how he’d reacted if someone else treated her like he had so many other creators’ period heroes?

  6. Before the 1990’s, I hadn’t read much Justice Society stories. Just a couple of JLA stories with them, and their appearances in Infinity Inc. So it was very much in the context of the JSA being part of DC’s tapestry, but not characters I was attached to directly.

    But then, I did pick up the 1991 mini-series and the 1992 series, both written by Len Strazewski. The mini was really fun as it focused on just a handful of the team, so I got to know the characters more. But then the ongoing series came out with Mike Parobeck pencils and Mike Machlan inks. And I was hooked. The art style clicked perfectly, and brought in more characters, and made them all relatable and interesting, and I LOVED IT!

    And it got canceled after only 10 issues, which was a crime! Sadly, it very much reflected DC corporate’s mentality to the JSA that climaxed in Zero Hour, and you guys have covered that amply. But it broke my heart to see this fun, positive, loving look at older superheroes get axed so abruptly. The only upside is, being just 10 issues, it’s a great re-read! But the downside there is reliving the regrets. “If only…”

    Zero Hour #3 was just over a year after that comic ended. So I DID care about their deaths, but Jurgens didn’t work hard enough to make me care in that issue. My own recent reading did that, so their treatment in ZH was upsetting for the wrong reasons. I wanted to care about the JSA’s deaths, and instead I felt flat. Very disappointing because Jurgens can do some great stories, but it didn’t happen here.

    But as always, it’s a joy to hear you guys discuss the event! Thank you, Strikers!

  7. This issue- Negative memories-
    I am a fan of Allen, and the JSA,
    This was the issue that as I bought it I learned we were NOT getting a multiverses back,
    I was the guy who liked Hal as bad guy, so that was “How can you like that?” Yelled at me repeatedly.

    Company killed off Or shelved some favorites,
    Editing is blocking a thing I like
    Fans are what we now call “toxic”
    All the worst parts of the hobby hit that week for me.

    (I stoped hanging out at that store and found a less argumentative LCS not long after that-)

  8. When I decided, 20 or so years ago, to get back into collecting comics by just focusing on The Legion and the JSA, this was one of the books that I had to buy. Until then, I hadn’t known of it. I bought it. I read it. It’s lousy. I haven’t re-read it, and listening to your description of it does not inspire me to re-read it! Chris’s interpretation above nails it; this is a top-down “event.” Things happen because they need to happen because upper management has decreed it. I’ll stick with you, boys, but I’ll let others pick at the nits!

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