Zero Hour Strikes! Batman Family Zeroes

Bass and Siskoid return to the Batman Family of books and their #0 issues, including The Outsiders, Catwoman and Robin! Who gets a bold new direction?

Listen to the Zero Hour Strikes! Episode 30 below!

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Relevant images and further credits at: Zero Hour Strikes ep.30 Supplemental

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20 responses to “Zero Hour Strikes! Batman Family Zeroes

  1. Great show fellas. Not surprisingly, I didn’t read this version of The Outsiders. But I’ve always liked Paul Pelletier’s art, so at least there’s that. This version of Outsiders seemed to exist just because team books were hot, thanks to the Image guys… and that seemed to be it.

    I remember noticing the “walk back” on Catwoman’s Year One profession. I thought that always was a bridge too far, personally, so I wasn’t sorry to see it suggestively (but not emphatically) toned down. Listening to you say it out loud, was Selina being put in a bag and thrown off a cliff into a river TOO on the nose for CATwoman? It seemed a bit excessive, like the pile ons of Bat-encounters young Bruce had (falling into the cave, plus playing with a bat with Kirk Langstrom, plus the Shaman’s mask, plus the bat coming through the window, etc.). But overall, I remember liking this issue. I stuck around through Dixon’s run a bit, but eventually let the title slip away, unless a Bat-crossover pulled me back.

    Robin was hands down one of my favorite books of this whole decade. The Dixon-era of the Bat-titles is a personal Golden Age for me. This issue did oddly focus on Dick instead of Tim, but the Bat-Offices had just got Dick back from the flailing Titans’ office (thank goodness) and you could just feel them ramping up his importance across the titles. You are absolutely right, DC rushed Bruce’s recovery to get him in play during Zero Hour. I agree it would have been much more satisfyinig to see a still-injured Bruce lead the team to defeat AzBats, and have Nightwing physically bring him down and take the mantle. Bass’ suggestion of a teenage Dick meeting his older self as Batman is a wonderful missed opportunity. If Dick had been allowed to be Batman during Zero Hour, I wonder if he would have stayed in the role longer? I don’t think anyone would have complained!

    1. I hadn’t realized the number of bat-encounters until you listed them out, Chris. Man, imagine if Bruce Wayne just couldn’t take a cosmic hint. “I shall become a fox.”

      1. I probably forgot a few. Even as a teenager, I found all the “coincidences” harder to swallow than Pre-Crisis Thomas Wayne as “Batman” for a costume party.

        But…young Bruce did become “Flying Fox” in an old Superboy story, Pre-Crisis!

  2. Great to hear two guys from the second largest country in land area discuss Two-Face on 2/22/2022. I’l be standing by for news of a Two-Face heist all day. I enjoyed the rest of the episode, too. Here are my reviews:
    Outsiders issue: Dumb, muddled, and boring. The portrayal of Batman always ruined the Outsiders for me, but they aren’t better here without him. Your phone call point is spot on, and makes it hard to respect the characters. Tim Price is a great guy, and I really love that Outcasters promo, but that’s probably as far as I’ll ever get. Nice art!
    Catwoman issue: Well done, but too depressing to enjoy. It really is Dickens. Nice art!
    Robin issue: Outstanding! Always loved the relationship between Dick and Tim, and Bruce is humbled and at his most reasonable here. Concur with everything Chris said about the Dixon era. Really nice art!

    Thanks! Hear you soon!

    1. To be fair, I don’t think Tim is proposing to cover this volume of the series on his show. I don’t wish that on him, anyway.

      As for the date, it’s a fun coincidence. I didn’t realize until you said it! AND it’s Twosday.

  3. Bass and Siskoid, another great episode!

    I love the idea of “iconic” Outsiders. As you know, I have no love of that team, but the team you guys covered could have been called Generic, Inc. You’re doing the Lord’s work reviewing some of these books. Looking forward to more!!!

  4. I wonder if that might not be Dick in the batsuit in the Catwoman frame. I mean, you couldn’t have her not know instantly in a modern Era book, but she wasn’t at that level yet.

    Also, did you know that the recent Inferior Five book is strongly connected to Invasion? Might be worth swinging back to as a one-off between the end of Zero Hour and whatever comes next…

    1. 1) How can it be Dick when it’s a flashback to her Year One?

      2) I’ve read it and people keep asking about it, but there are no plans for us to cover it. If we start to do that, and there’s another reference to Invasion or to Zero Hour in future stories, even other media, we’ll never be done resurrecting dead feeds and making zombie episodes.

  5. You may not believe this, but I root for the Outsiders… I really do… if only because they’re not the Justice League. One of the many curses visited upon comics by Brian Michael Bendis was the New Avengers. Marvel basically ripped off the original Justice League by throwing all of their most popular IP onto one team, regardless of logic, and now every team is the Avengers. All of the Defenders are Avengers, most of the X-Men… hell, the Midnight Sons and Angela are Avengers. And then the Justice League did the same thing. We’re living in the Demolition Man future where all restaurants are Taco Bell, except every comic is Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, the X-Men, the Avengers, and Justice League. But at the same time, your average DC fan wouldn’t remember or care to add the Outsiders to a top ten DC teams list. Kevin Knowlan painted a cover and drew an entire annual. Jim Aparo, Alan Davis, Paul Pelletier, Tom Raney, Matthew Clark, and Phillip Tan were all series regulars. Brian Bolland and Travis Charest did covers. The book has Batman top-billed more often than not. A great many valuable resources have been expended on Outsiders for them to never really happen. The Outsiders are so very, very fetch.

    I bought at least one if not both #1s of the 1993 series, as well as #0, 17, and 24 new. I remember nothing but the line-ups, and that’s mostly down to trading cards and reference books. I believe the fault lay mostly with Mike Barr’s lousy writing on team books, but also, that line-up. I was a little put out that Titans got canceled and returned to the Teen Titans premise, but in retrospect, it’s too generic a name and shared with an awful, treacherous football team. Having the adult Titans “graduate” to take over Batman’s team makes sense, though Outsiders is no great shakes as an identifier, either. Again, the problem was the writing, as Geoff Johns went on to revitalizing Teen Titans run and Judd Winick was on The Real World with Peeedrooooo! The 2007 BATOS relaunch had a spark of promise muffled immediately by the editorial fuckery of shitcanning multiple completed issues then reshuffling the creative team and line-up. Even then, the Chuck Dixon issues were solid, but he left after a year so that a bunch of other writers could schlep through it until Dan Didio claimed it for himself. What a prize. They couldn’t keep a Batman or a line-up, but managed to work a New blood in. Good show.

    So for my money. which are long odds of DC ever getting, the most successful run in sheer numbers and conceptually was adult Titans. Turn it into Nightwing and the Outsiders and get a halfway decent writer for a change with the money usually spent on the art.

          1. Okay, well as IP’s, then.

            1. The JLA – the big time
            2. Teen Titans – sidekicks
            3. LSH – like the Titans and JLA had a baby
            4. Suicide Squad
            5. Birds of Prey
            6. JSA (for the old people)

            That’s all i got

      1. Personally, I can think of 7 or 8 major I.P.s that are better in concept and execution than the Outsiders. Justice League, JSA, All-Star Squadron, LSH, Doom Patrol, Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey, Titans… and then I’d get into quirkier choices that happen to be favorites like the Subs, the Metal Men, etc.

  6. Good crunchy Christ on the cross, did I just step through time onto the aughts DC Comics Message Board? And as a veteran of the Flames Wars, am I cool with that? It appears so.

    For clarity, I’m disallowing all non-DC proper teams, meaning no Wildstorm, ABC, Milestone, et cetera. In keeping with the spirit of the original argument, anything with, say, “Justice League” in the title or a de facto brand extension like “Extreme Justice” is one IP, regardless of specific flavor or constitution. Likewise, the All-Star Squadron is just an umbrella for a bunch of golden age properties, or a lesser adjunct to the JSA, not its own entity. Infinity Inc. is just JSA Babies and too similar to Titans. Also going for objectivity over personal preferences.

    1) Justice League: The Mightiest Heroes of Our Time

    2) The Legion of Super-Heroes: Possibly the greatest and most welcoming team concept of all time, hampered by the actual membership consisting of “characters” designed solely for the purpose of serving the premise. What if the X-Men but only Icemans and Angels?

    3) Global Guardians: LOSH meets League of Nations. An undying gem of a concept never taken seriously enough to properly utilize.

    4) Green Lantern Corps: Similar to Legion, but more classist with repetitive and concept-breaking power set. But also actual viable leads, sadly best represented by Hal Jordan.

    5) Teen Titans: Just The Sidekicks isn’t that stirring a concept, but lots of points awarded for execution. Also includes obvious permutations like Young Justice.

    6) Doom Patrol: Super team as support group.

    7) Justice Society of America: The comic boom equivalent of the Black rhythm & blues artists that Elvis and Led Zeppelin stole from, who are nevertheless not themselves the Beatles or the Stones.

    8) Blackhawk Squadron: Sort of the prototype for Task Force X and proper super-teams (as opposed to JSA’s solo and paired investigations.)

    9) Suicide Squad: Extremely cool, but also ripe for edge-lording and thematically narrow.

    Honorable Mention 10th Space) Marvel Family, Secret Six, Metal Men, Challengers of the Unknown, & Birds of Prey.

    If we’re going by personal preference, fast and loose? New Titans, several different incarnations of the JLA and JSA, Legion, WildC.A.T.s, Suicide Squad, GLC, Global Guardians, BoP (only when Huntress is a member,) and the Giffen/Clarke run on Doom Patrol. I also have a soft spot for the Creature Commandos, in concept if not execution.

  7. I still had a strong dislike of Two-Face in 1993, at least in the comics, as Batman: The Animated Series was changing my opinion overall. He was also rather closely associated with Jason Todd, so I deeply resented Chuck Dixon suddenly deciding that he was this long time Dick Grayson nemesis… which seemed to be forgotten as soon as “Prodigal” wrapped anyway. I played out that storyline, and underwhelmed by the Batman group’s handling of Nightwing, saw myself out. Oddly enough, I usually only bought Robin for Connor Hawke appearances, like the crossover Brotherhood of the Fist. Tim Drake’s a good kid, but he’s the church youth group leader of super-heroes, and he’s just not my Robin. He was also clearly Chuck Dixon’s baby, at a time that he was also supposed to be writing Nightwing, and I couldn’t get past the clear favoritism (and Dixon’s not getting Dick.) And frankly, I thought the art got worse and worse, not necessarily in craft, but just for my taste. Even when Tom Grummett was still on the title, I thought it was some of his worst work, with the least complimentary inks. By the time Bill Willingham and Scott McDaniel inherited the title, it all smelled pukey? I do feel bad for all that Red Robin, killed his dad then orphaned him in favor of a “real” son dirty dealing.

    I did like Catwoman #0, especially the walking back of the prostitution angle. I’m definitely on the side of “sex work is work,” but maybe not nearly half-a-century into a comic anti-heroine’s career under a writer with “issues” and an implied baby pro as a supporting character in a comic for children. Doug Moench tends to be one of my favorite Catwoman writers, handling her well under multiple incarnations across decades. It speaks to the lack of priority that the book was written round robin by the Batman office, rather than have it’s own dedicated scripter for years. I think I bought but never read “Year Two,” and like Robin, my exposure was mostly down to stripped cover returns I could toss through in the tub. Man, I miss reading comics in the tub. So relaxing. I tried dipping in during Devin Grayson’s run, but her handle on Selina was not at all comparable to that of the rest of the Batman Family, and even that was controversial in fan circles. Only the diehards hung around once Balent split. Those last couple years of Catwoman were real dogs.

    I hung back on the Brubaker/Cooke relaunch, seeing it as hopping on the X-Men trend of hopping on the Matrix trend of having everybody hop into chic leather/vinyl street wear. That went out the window when Paul Gulacy came on with #25, and I stayed for the duration of his run. The stories didn’t grab me the way Moench’s had, but they were serviceable so long as that art kept coming in. I skimmed through a bunch of that Will Pfeiffer material, I think because of multiple Cheetah appearances as part of podcast research. All that stuff where she’d gotten knocked up and retired? Yeah, that’s the kind of short-sighted thinking that saw Pfeiffer the door on his comics career.

    That was probably it. The pre-Flashpoint Didio years was a slow weening off of DC, so that by 2009, I made a game of wondering when R.E.B.E.L.S. would get cancelled so that I would no longer have a single monthly DC purchase. Since about 2013, that’s been the norm, especially once DC stopped holding the line at $2.99. I don’t have any Catwoman collections on my shelf, so I probably haven’t bought and read a new floppy with her in over a decade now.

    1. The flashbacks seen in Robin #0 were fully shown in the excellent Robin: Year One, written by Dixon and Scott Beatty. So it was referenced heavily again, at least by Dixon, who was basically running the Bat-show in the late 90s.

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