Zero Hour Strikes! Justice Leagues

Bass and Siskoid dig into “Return of the Hero”, Christopher Priest’s pinch-hitting story across the three Justice League monthly titles tying into Zero Hour – America #98, Task Force #16, and International #68 – as Triumph makes the scene as the League founder no one remembers. But don’t you forget to listen!

Listen to the Zero Hour Strikes! Episode 17 below!

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Relevant images and further credits at: Zero Hour Strikes ep.17 Supplemental

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21 responses to “Zero Hour Strikes! Justice Leagues

  1. Ah, Triumph. Such potential, but so wasted. Imagine if they had made him, you know, likable? A character who was actually friends with the original 5 Leaguers, who had connections to them? And they don’t remember him at all? A person retconned out of existence can make for a powerful story. Just look at what Busiek did with the concept in Astro City.

    Instead, we get Triumph the jerk, who no one minded seeing going full heel in Morrison’s JLA. Sigh.

    It is amazing that DC didn’t take Zero Hour to launch a proper JLA return to glory. Seems like the perfect place to do it, doesn’t it? Oh, how the mighty have fallen.


    1. Yeah, makes you wonder just how thought-out this was. It’s like JL Editorial had no head’s up, and the Publisher didn’t think this IP was worth boosting, other than literally putting EXTREME in one of the titles.

      1. Priest mentioned to me at a con that he based his version of Triumph on a particular comics staffer that he knew at the time (but never named names). Place your bets on exactly who he meant, but he definitely said it was somebody that others found abrasive and easily disliked.

  2. The main book gets worse (There’s a toy tie in book around that time that winds up being the best and most consequential ‘main team’s JL story of a three year period), but JLTF gets Priest as permanent writer and is a good book, although troubled by editorial interference. Triumph and Ray have an interesting dynamic there. And the other book is…better than you might think,to damn with faint praise.

  3. Take a bow, Siskoid and Bass! you both made a meal of the scraps that was the Justice League franchise at the time.

    Triumph was an interesting idea – just not one that added to the Zero Hour proceedings! What a waste of everyone’s time.

    Like Siskoid said, it would be a long time before the JL books were good. Task Force was always better of the three during its run, though it didn’t even stick to initial premise long before turning into J’onn J’onnz’s school of gifted students. Again, that was the best of the three JL books, but it’s not hard to be better than Extreme or a team that has Blue Devil and space bird. Not even my precious Wonder Woman could make that JLA book work.

    Looking forward to more. But man, are you guys headed into some crappy territory. Multiple batmen and supermen. Xenobrood. Primal Force. But it’s okay, because we got Starman out of it.

      1. I think even Shag would agree that version of BD was not his favorite, nor is he in the upper tier of the DC Parthenon

    1. I talked to Priest about his take on Task Force. He said that it was basically him getting fed up with editorial not giving him any direction. When he was brought on he was under the impression it would stay with the “send them on missions” concept but apparently nobody ever called on the Task Force in the DC Justice League offices, so instead he came up with his own ideas and ended up having to tell a lot of “Meanwhile, at the base” style stories. Still, I greatly enjoyed this book compared to the other JL titles, but that’s like comparing Fortress to a similar movie with Christopher Lambert, right?

  4. My game plan sixty-some-odd episodes into the continuing DC adventures of Siskoid & Bass is to talk about what happened in the gap between Zero Hour and Invasion! That was trickier for JLI because there were several issues earlier in the run, before the audience knew that there would be a follow-up podcast. I couldn’t recall how deep I went into my reading of the series, and what the cut-off point was. I went into your catalog all the way back to 2016, a time when I freely and no doubt smugly referenced a book on the history of comics by namedropping the author, a writer you wouldn’t even name in this episode. Trump was still a joke candidate who wasn’t going to go anywhere. So funny. Ha. Ha, I say.

    “Swansong” from Justice League America #60 really did it for me back in the day, performing exactly its stated function in an affecting way. It was worth slogging through (most) of “Breakdowns” to get to that end point. I’d read enough comics by that point to know how rare the truly funny ones were, so I had no problem with editorial largely dropping that angle going into Justice League Spectacular. My issue was that they were keeping most of the Giffen & DeMatteis cast, and in the clear case of Dan Jurgens, doing so through gritted teeth. One of the reasons I unreservedly brutalize the Zero Hour mini-series is because Dan Jurgens broke what I call “The Cyclops Rule,” which is to say that regardless of how much you may think Cyclops is a douche, when you’re writing a book starring Cyclops, your job is to be his biggest fan for that project. I’m not sure Christopher Priest was going meta in this story, but I’m absolutely certain Jurgens was using preferred “straights” like Superman and the Atom to criticize the characters and stories he had been charged with continuing. The only storyline anyone talks about from the Jurgens run is “Destiny’s Hand,” after he’d had Doomsday rip through the JLI and more or less got to do a Satellite Era story. This was just before unceremoniously dumping the title when he thought he was going to become an Image-class superstar. Dude wasn’t even the best artist drawing a Superman book at the time, and it wasn’t even his idea to kill Superman, but he sure scooped up all the attention and royalties into jet black garbage bags with bleeding “S” shields.

    All of that was hindsight though, as I didn’t start buying Justice League America again until late in the Vado run. I think I fished one or two issues out of quarter bins because I’d gotten turned on to Guy Gardner, and I was also becoming enough of a die hard Wonder Woman collector to suffer through team books beginning with the “Judgment Day” crossover. Thanks to my Martian Manhunter fandom, and more specifically to untangle the Bloodwynd mess (which Jurgens couldn’t adequately resolve in a rushed two-parter,) I’ve since read all the issues in between. Vado was definitely the worst Justice League writer that I’ve ever read, and therefore, logically, that title could not in fact get worse. That said, he barely got more than a year on a thoroughly broken title that he was probably only ever a caretaker on (but also, his Ice revision was so ruinous it targeted her for execution, so…)

    I conducted a brief interview with Bart Sears where he “well actually’d” me about having been on Justice League Europe for three years and I had to choke down a “bitch, please.” He got through the first issue (aided by Keith Giffen breakdowns) but was already calling in sick by #13 (as long as you count his inking Art Nichols of #9.) He missed a total of five issues in the second year, to the point where Marshall Rogers arguably had a run during the Sears run, and only did another four into his “third year.” I belabor this because I the line-up and various scripters never really grew on me, so my primary interest was in Sears’ art, and I confess to having not read most of the issues he didn’t draw. He was succeeded by a young Darick Robertson for most of “Breakdowns,” who was alright aside from the rampant Fairuza Balk mouths. I bought the post-script issue after “Swansong” with the Chris Wozniak art and boy, that was one bitter chaser.

    I used to own all the issues that followed until the end of the volume, but I think they may have gotten lost with all of my Aquaman, Hawkman, and Legion stuff when I ill-advisedly tried to get free storage space out of my former business partner alongside the rest of our leftover stock after the shop closed. If Aquaman back issues shot up after the movie like they did with Wonder Woman, please don’t tell me. But anyway, I barely skimmed most of the remaining JLI 2.0 run.

    I think I still have a run of Justice League Quarterly, accumulated mostly from the same extraordinarily pleasant math/tennis teacher who brought me a nice chunk of a League run dating back to the late ’70s in exchange for store credit. I think I’ve read most of the lead stories. Ancillary is too kind a word. They should collect it as Justice League Inessential, except they shouldn’t collect it. It’s like the official adaptation of the 1997 Justice League failed pilot.

    The only one of these books that I still got sometimes new in this period was Justice League Task Force. I got the debut for Nightwing, but the story was lame, so I probably got #2-3 as back issues (still for Nightwing.) I got #5 for the Knightquest tie-in before deciding not to follow Knightquest. I got #7-8 for Wonder Woman and Peter David, which was a hoot (and another interview topic.) I was back again for #13-15, the “Judgment Day” issues and aftermath. I had struggled with Sal Velluto’s wonkass Continuity Studios informed art style, especially in the Chromium Age, but I got into it eventually, and it was definitely the best looking title in the line. Having gone back and read the run, the Mission: Impossible model’s novelty ran out fast. Throwing a bunch of characters into a single or multi-issue story probably would have worked better with either one consistent writer to join Velluto or entirely different artists to better visualize the anthology format. Maybe not having a Superman-level mission leader putting his green thumb on the scale and having characters who were a) currently popular or b) identifiable by the average reader would have been beneficial. Easily the most readable book in the JLI line, but aside hardly necessary.

    I didn’t get the Triumph issues until I’d started collecting Martian Manhunter comics. Since I wasn’t married to DC continuity at that point, I was able to enjoy his being the League’s retroactive Pete Best without it giving me an aneurysm. Priest used to have a bunch of “commentary” posts on his blog that got into the nuts and bolts of this specific story and the Triumph group creation process. He was particularly displeased with Phil Jimenez, getting all Jim Shooter nit-picky on how failures to follow script direction had hobbled the arc.

  5. Thank you for another enlightening episode, gentlemen. I enjoyed your coverage of these Justice League issues, which I didn’t read when Zero Hour first hit the stands. While this episode didn’t make me want to seek them out, your discussion of the rookie heroes in Justice League America #92 has inspired me to reread Mark Waid’s JLA: Year One series. So, thank you very much for that.

  6. Gentlemen, Zero Hour had its moments, but your discussion of Zero Hour is far more enjoyable overall. Thank you for that. I’m a Christopher Priest fan, so I’m unsurprised that even while serving a flawed crossover, he was able to craft better stories with these teams than anyone else did. But even Priest has limits, so like Brian said, I’m not adding these issues to my reading pile anytime soon. There’s still one Panther trade of Priest’s I haven’t read (among other work), and I still need to check out Justice League 3000 for a dose of bwa-ha-ha.

  7. I’ll admit it, I continued with Justice League America until #100, and even I’d had enough by then and took a break until Morrison. Blue Devil’s portrayal was painful. This was not my reluctant metahuman who didn’t want to be a superhero, but was cooler and better at heroing than he thought.

    Only tried a couple of issues of EJ, but didn’t add it to my pull list, and I have an odd hankering to read it for the Captain Atom/Firestorm parts alone. We’ll see.

    Kept with JLTF all the way to the finish, showing the strength of the creative team, even though some parts of the series were troubling. And no it wasn’t Triumph, although he was a jerky jerk. The callous detachment of J’onn. The horrible treatment of Priest’s character Mystek. No hint of L-Ron’s humorous self in hulking Despero. My main joy was being a Ray spin-off title, which it wasn’t supposed to be.

    Oh yeah, this story! Entitled jerk with great power pushing a bunch of other people around. Nothing relatable about that in today’s world. Nope, nosiree bob!

    But thanks for another great episode, Strikers!

  8. I find the ending Priest gave Triumph on the last issue of task force was great, it was dark and fitting for the character. It also tied to another event (Underworld Unleashed).

  9. In Avengers: No Surrender, a new character named Voyager is introduced and everyone suddenly remembered that she was long lost and forgotten founding member of the Avengers. The event where she was erased from history was during a battle with Land and the Squadron Supreme that involved a similarly forgotten Squadron member name Victory. Victory? Triumph? Get it?

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