Zero Hour Strikes! Wonder Woman, Hawkman and Aquaman #0

While there are a couple of episodes after this, Bass and Siskoid polish off what's left of Zero Month with Wonder Woman #0, Hawkman #0, and Aquaman #0.

Listen to the Zero Hour Strikes! Episode 31 below!

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Relevant images and further credits at: Zero Hour Strikes ep.31 Supplemental

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16 responses to “Zero Hour Strikes! Wonder Woman, Hawkman and Aquaman #0

  1. Fun show, guys. I only had time to listen to Wonder Woman #0 before I have to get ready for school. I’ll catch the rest afterwards.

    I think the Mask of Proteus idea was created in this issue. In issue 1 of this WW series, Hippolyte decreed ALL 200 warriors in the contest be masked by identical full-head helmets. “For three thousand years, these Amazons have lived as sisters! Now I call upon them to compete fiercely!” she said. “No Amazon shall hesitate because she vies against a dear friend — or sympathizes with another’s turmoil.” Very easy for Diana to sneak in to compete (and she was told by Athena to do so, so no guilt there).

    I don’t get why the writer changed this brilliant concept to having a blond stranger suddenly show up and compete to win. Maybe he was inspired by that Superfriends episode where the Cheetah tried to change Diana’s history?

  2. The Deodato art in Wonder Woman is certainly well crafted, and eye-pleasing, and not just in the most obvious way. But those proportions…yikes. Artists like Ed Benes will soon run with that and take it to whole new levels of inhuman, well, proportions!

    I like the Bolland cover, just because he gives Wonder Woman some real depth and dimension there. Her teeth do look a bit odd, though.

    Poor Hawkman. No one knew what do with him. This series is basically the equivalent of taking all the leftovers in the fridge, sticking it in a blender, and calling it dinner. That dinner obviously caused food poisoning, as after this series DC decreed Hawkman to be “radioactive”. They wouldn’t even let golden boy Grant Morrison have anything to do with him in JLA!

    I will admit, I really dug this Aquaman at the time. Now it seems very gruesome and cynical, and probably should have been David’s own, original character, rather than a redo of Aquaman. I will always give it points for being bold and fairly original, though. I think Dolphin has fallen by the wayside because Johns rescued the character of Mera from insanity and obscurity.

  3. Great show covering what I think is a great comic in a great run … Wonder Woman #0.

    I started collecting WW at around #88, all because of a Bolland cover of Diana and Superman. I then went back and got the other Messner-Loeb issues and read through to Byrne.

    Yes, the art is amazing, if just dripping with cheesecake. But it is also gorgeous and laid out well. Great panel shapes and page layouts. Deodato became a superstar here.

    But I was glad that DC let the light shine on Wonder Woman a little. Azrael took over for Batman. There was a Reign of Supermen. So let’s give Diana a similar story. And while Artemis does die in this arc, she comes back and has remained an important character in the Wonder Woman books since. And if the purpose of zero issues was to give an origin of sorts, this did the trick.

    I was impressed enough with Messner-Loeb to try the Hawkman book, more than once – both this issue and the upcoming issue in Hawkman where Diana crossed over. It just seemed way too convoluted to grab me. Wasn’t the purpose of Zero Hour to clean things up??

    Thanks again for a great show!

  4. So the plan was to take this in reverse order of period investment, which is to say I committed to Hawkman monthly but gave up on Aquaman. I also expected to be amused by how much of the recent H2O content on the Fire & Water Podcast Network was down to Siskoid, but there was no shade on the seas. The network had a good balance of Sea King content between the Franklins, Shag, and of course(?) Rob. No, what really hit me, not unlike with Secret Origins, was how few ripples Aquaman made in your oceans. Barely a drop in Invasion! and the slightest trickle in Zero Hour. I thought for sure Ryan had set aside a moment for The Legend of Aquaman, but he was such a salty sea dog about his rigid format, I believe that edition remains criminally overlooked hereabouts (at least per Google and the in-site search engines.)

    The question is thus put to me, do I want my big overarching fan post to my personal history with Aquaman to be buried in one of the last episodes of this show, already covering my personal favorite super-heroine and another figure I have a long and checkered history with. To quote a nemesis, I say thee nay! Eh, that’s actually a Thor reference, but I can’t be bothered to research an appropriate Namor quote. The point is that I’m going to limit my scope to a light brush across the 1994 volume.

    I had been brought into the fold by Peter David, probably my favorite comic writer of the period. He was the only person who could convince me to purchase several hundred issues of The Incredible Hulk, including monthly across most of the entire 1990s. In fact, it was pretty much the only Marvel comic I stuck with through the Heroes World debacle, and over the span of my crossing from mutie lover to X-Men hater. I also typically enjoyed his work on other titles like X-Factor, and I realized in retrospect that he was behind my favorite period of Spider-Man comics, though that still wasn’t enough to bring me to 2099. David even made my passing interest in Supergirl into a permanent affection, as I stuck with almost all of his volume.

    It just didn’t work on Aquaman. Despite my nostalgia for his solo cartoon and Super Friends, I more or less shared my generation’s Sean Baby attitudes toward that character. It wasn’t until my anticipation for David’s run that I properly dove into his eponymous comics, and came to embrace the work of Steve Skeates, Keith Giffen, and Shaun McLaughlin. While acknowledging that work, especially the post-Crisis elements, Peter David charted a much different course. He also, frankly, gave into some of his worst impulses. It was basically a watered down version of his own Hulk work by way of a poor man’s Sub-Mariner, with an intolerable level of fish puns. I was crestfallen by how quickly David drowned my newfound enthusiasm for Aquaman in Bronze and Chromium Age tropes. If you’ll forgive me for indulging in alt-right toxic terminology, I will never fathom what David was thinking in having Aquaman’s pivot point as being cucked by a throwaway new villain whom he immediately killed off in a passive manner. I was all a-tingle when David’s one word warning to Wizard Magazine about the upcoming event was “piranhas,” but I never imagined what he meant was that Aquman would be left holding his cock in one hand while the other was being daintily dipped into a peeling puddle by Char-ribby-dee-doople. “Ah, I can’t control the powers I stole from you, so I will be ironically eaten by my own piranha!” Jay-sis. Aquaman couldn’t even avenge himself. Again. *Glances at Black Manta.*

    Kirk Jarvinen, the Dollar Store Arthur Adams, had been a selling point on Time & Tide. Having washed out of comics, he was replaced by the more interesting Marty Egeland. Promo art hinted at a dark fantasy spin, which Namor was also going with under Jae Lee at Marvel. Unfortunately, David never committed to those overtures, and Egeland’s art was too cute to sell it anyway. The cast was “Who’s Great in ’88” catalog deep dives, mostly aquatic or elemental themed, The lore treaded the same water as his own Atlantis Chronicles. The palace intrigue was Prince Namor’s lane, and mostly down to Dolphin being polyamorous. Again, not my mentality, but the deluge of post-Oscar slap memes involving August Alsina and/or Laverne Cox minus a quarter-century of social progress should speak to how her moving on to Aqualad was received. Egeland couldn’t keep up with a monthly schedule, so side man Jim Calafiore did an increasing share of the art, before taking over entirely. He could draw fishies like no one else in comics, but no one else much wanted to, and being a breakout from Valiant’s Knob Row isn’t exactly a bona fide. Between mini-series and ongoing, in five years David’s efforts mostly underlined why Aquaman was perceived as a joke, and never effectively moved past the established paradigm. Tempestuous relationship with Mera, mourned son, fights Black Manta and Ocean Master, struggles with reluctant sovereignty. I don’t get to touch on it much in Who’s Editing, but I made sure to address that in my set-up before killing off Aquaman as part of the inciting events. Mera’s cray-cray, got a baby with Orm, who is now emperor of Atlantis. Aquaman is no longer recognized as a king, or even definitively as the same person, and instead acts as a rebel ally in thwarting those who now reign over Poseidonis. It was more movement from the failed Silver Age model than in the entire 76 issue volume.

    I stopped buying the monthly by #13. I think it was actually sooner, but I still ended up with more issues than not from the first year. I got a couple of three issues a year for the rest of David’s run. I had most of it after the fact as part of an overall DC collection, but left that box in my former business partner’s garage until we lost touch, so now I have almost none of it. No great loss. The Erik Larsen issues aren’t as bad as their reputation, but not exactly good, either. The Dan jurgens/Steve Epting stuff was better, I guess, if Warlord guest stints turn you on. The defining element of this and the following volume was “what am I using to replace my hand?” At some point the answer was Jellyfish Voltron and a whole dang clone. It was not a compelling case for comics.

  5. Thanks for the coverage, Bass and Siskoid. I’ll miss this show when it’s gone, but I suspect I’ll appreciate the replacement just as much — especially if you keep Bass around or make him a recurring guest star.

    In my opinion, and just as a rule of thumb, if a comics creator can’t sum up who the character is, how they came to be who they are, and why they do what they do in a page or less, the odds are weighted against that character. I don’t know if it has to do with clarity of vision or the reader’s ability to relate to the character or what, but I think it’s true. This version of Hawkman couldn’t come close and failed spectacularly as a result. Wonder Woman struggles to do so, and consequently she has struggled at times. You can convolute the plot, and you can add special features to the identity or the origin, but those special features cannot be essential to understanding the character. “Who I am and how I came to be,” as Batman says, must be straightforward. He and Supes are perfect textbook examples. Most versions of Aquaman range from adequate to very good.

  6. With regard to Hawkman, I think Siskoid and Bass jump to a lot of unfounded conclusions. John Ostrander was the writer upon launch, and I’m not sure why he only stayed for a half-dozen issues. It would have made more sense to launch fresh, so maybe the numbers fell short, or there was an editorial dictate from higher up the food chain. Anyway, a lot of the Underworlder stuff may have even come from Tim Truman, so it seems like everyone writing Hawkman in these years got stuck holding somebody else’s bag. It wasn’t even Steve Lieber’s thing, as he took over two-thirds into the first arc when Jan Duursema bailed to draw X-Factor. Then there was a two-part fill-in with the New Blood Mongrel by Paul Kupperberg, followed by Bill Messner-Loebs launching into “Godspawn.” Most of that arc was set up for changes dictated by Dan Jurgens and the Zero Hour team. While it’s left ambiguous in the Hawkman tie-in issues, Zero Hour #3 clearly shows the rainbow chronal energy from throughout the event strike the Halls, Katar, and the Hawkgod. Waverider states, “That blast of cosmic energy–! They’re dying! All of them!” Then Metron explains, “No. It is a birth. At the least, a powerful ally we need to turn the tide in our own battle– at the most– a new god.” In the Hawkman issue, Mongrel’s shadow energy appears to be a catalyst, but he only fired “negative energy in force beams with concussive and propulsion powers.” The Hawkgod might have played a role in the merger, but he hardly seemed willing, and it seems like a stretch that he could reach out to “all who have worn the wings– past, present, and future…” So yeah, Zero Hour changed Hawkman.

    The next false assumption was that Count Viper continued to dominate the series as a primary antagonist. Part of the new status quo was that Hawkman was basically a Highlander with the Native American twist of involving spirit animals. Katar was a hawk avatar, and he killed a newly created bear avatar as part of a “there can be only one deal.” Count Viper became his namesake avatar, and I think he was retconned as having been that avatar the whole time. He’s the main villain of the four part “Eyes of the Hawk” arc that started with #0, and that was pretty much the end of him.

    For my next rebuttal– none of this was Messner-Loebs’ “thing.” He was not especially popular at DC and his books didn’t sell. He probably took Hawkman because nobody else wanted it, and was tasked with writing a violent Wolverine type while himself being a pacifistic humanist. Mostly he cycled through a series of guest-appearances, then crossovers/event tie-ins in a sad attempt to boost sales. His heart wasn’t in it, and the coattail riding just dragged out the inevitable execution. I think Mike Deodato put in a good word for him when Warren Ellis bailed on Thor after his first arc, and he was getting fat checks for scripting his friend Sam Kieth’s The Maxx, so he deuced with #27. After another round of fill-ins, Christopher Priest took it on without anyone telling him he would only get three issues to wrap up the whole volume. Again, it had all gotten very Highlander, with lots of allusions to the reincarnated warrior across history, struggling with memories of his life as Silent Knight, Nighthawk, and so on. Presumably that came from Jurgens and company. and Bill Loebs was stuck playing out the cliche on the monthly.

    Also, the J. Michael Straczynski Spider-Totem stuff was in the aughts, eight years later.

    I stuck it out until about #23, but I ultimately bought the whole series within a few years. As with Aquaman, it was part of a DC fan rampage, and it was in the same boxes as the Aquaman comics that are no longer in my possession. I was really into the promise of Hawkman, even buying issues of the Superman/Batman animated universe magazine in which he was featured. I customized my own version of a new Mexican Hawkman out of a McFarlane Toys Wetworks Frankenstein and the wings that came with the Ace Duck figure from TMNT (who I bought for his resemblance to Howard.) I still think the basics of “Flying Conan” are fun, but I think the property still needs more than it has to justify his existence. It’s one of those deals where Hawkgirl is a prominent heroine with a long history who offers necessary representation… and the Alex Raymond lift who deserves more of the types of “useless” jokes thrown at Aquman. He flies. He stabs and punches. I hope he has more than that going for him in the Black Adam movie.

    1. Writers are often blamed for what is a failure of editorial, at least, until the back story is made available and popularized. From what we could see, BML used ZH to change the character, but not by changing his history, which is what ZH would allow. Merging characters together mystically has nothing to do with a “Crisis in Time”, not really, but then, the event never defined its temporal limits. So it also becomes “his fault” that the series didn’t shrug off the Netherworld stuff immediately (especially since he put us on the Hawk avatar road 5 issues before ZH), but instead continued to write that “baggage”. 4 issues, 12, just 1, doesn’t really matter, it meant that Hawkman didn’t get a real jumping on point. Different take on the character, oh wait, gotta spend a few issues wrapping up the previous take’s shit. And a guy called Viper was a bear avatar? That’s just clumsy. If he was being a good little pen for hire and doing an editor’s bidding (much like writers had to work from JMS’s cocktail napkins on Superman and Wonder Woman later), then I apologize to the man, but it’s still his name at the top of the credits.

      As for JMS’s totem crap, yes, I know the timeline. It’s still a weird thing to burden long-running characters with.

      1. That’s fair. Loebs should have used “Godspawn” to clear the decks, but I don’t think he really knew what to do with or without the established framework. With Wonder Woman, he kept most of Perez’s cast, but just told more sci-fi/super-hero type stories instead of the mythological/international adventure ones. They were also aligned on the side trips to human interest stories, though Perez was more prone to “a very special episode” where Loebs would thread it into the ongoing narrative. On Hawkman, the whole point of the first arc seamed to be shifting focus to the lead duo, instead of the ensemble “Hill Street Blues” space-cops in a weird Chicago subculture of the previous volume. Nobody seemed to get that, so Kupperberg and Messner-Loebs kept rehashing the Underworld junk. And since I wasn’t reading Hawkworld, I can speak from first hand experience; that stuff turned me right off as an attempted follower. Spending time with Katar’s mom and the kooky cast of freaks? Hard pass.

        You mentioned that most people point to the Johns/Morales run for how to do Hawkman right, but is it? Have you ever seen someone get visibly excited at the mention of that series, or speak of it in hushed reverence? Or is it more that the book articulated an approach to the property that seemed viable and acceptable? It wasn’t a beloved cult classic like Morales and Peyer’s Hourman, and it didn’t launch a juggernaut franchise like Johns’ Green Lantern, or revitalize an establish brand like his Flash. It was just a solid companion title to JSA, and a case to be made that Hawkman has never been a truly successful character. He didn’t shed Flash’s audience when they alternated covers on the Speedster’s title. He was a highly visible longtime JSA member specifically because he never got “too big” to be taken off the team. Not a single Hawkman series has lasted five years, unless you count the one that rebranded as “Hawkgirl” before cancellation. The next longest lasting volume had assumed the numbering of Atom’s solo title when they merged. Hawkman exists because there’s a sense that he matters to the DC Universe– that he’s part of their constellation– but is there any evidence to support that beyond his just managing to hang around on the periphery? And I say this as someone who likes Hawkman and has read a fairly substantial amount of his tepid stories.

  7. At the time of Zero Hour, I was so into Wonder Woman that I ordered one of those Dynamic Forces (or similar) signed copies of #0. I had never done so before and have never since. I get the concept of autograph hunting, but have rarely pursued it, and actively resent the attention-suck of some schmuck dragging a longbox to a creator’s table to get whole runs signed. To me, the point is to have a memento of an interaction with a creator, so ordering a copy from a faceless autograph mill feels sad and sordid. I overpaid for an item that got dumped into a box, barely to be acknowledged again, never so much as touching the comic directly in its sealed and certified bag. But on its face is that Brian Bolland cover, one of the worst of his long run. Sure, a representation of bullets & bracelets should be iconic, but it’s too photo-realistic for that goal. The angle is dull and awkward, with the relation of Diana’s head to her body unflattering and anatomically questionable. It’s stiff and staged and ugly, with a non-background of slug-lines that more resemble nightfall than bullet speed. As a Bolland, it’s still a billion times better than anything I could ever draw, but it falls far short of his established standards.

    This is another title that breaks my usual Invasion-to-Zero Hour commenting formula. I thought for certain that there was at least an in-name-only tie-in before now. The short version is that I briefly collected the Perez run for a few months from mall bookstores and comic shops, until I moved to Nevada and went back to relying solely on a newsstand indifferent to Amazons. I tried the first issue of War of the Gods and some tie-ins, but that event rightly lives in ignominy. I pulled the Wonder Woman Special out of a discount bin, and discounted it again. Ruben Diaz teased major events to come in an editorial blurb, so I added the title to my pull list with #79 to get in front of another Azrael/Bane scenario. I also hustled up recent back issues, and very swiftly fell deeply in love with the title. Eventually pulled together a complete run of the volume, right up to #226 thirteen years later. I stuck through it through thick but mostly thin, proof positivity that the temporary sales bump of a new #1 is also the swan song for completionists in an ongoing industry death spiral.

    Anj and I objectively oversold “The Contest” on DCOCD, but given that it was competing with the slog of Knightfall and the creaky Reign of the Supermen that were being worshiped like golden calves, it was a great book within their company. Just as Diana finally had art of a quality that she could actually attract a large mainstream audience, the stories I’d been lauding took a turn toward Image Comics to match the visuals. The extended “Challenge of Artemis” arc was still a lot more coherent than most period “breaking of” stories, and a damned sight prettier. At the same time, it was paying off threads from the beginning of William Messner-Loebs’ run, so #100 carried a lot less weight if you hadn’t read the White Magician stories starting at #66. Incidentally, that space pirate arc and the Ares Buchanan thread were also much better than the grand finale, making it a comparative whimper. All things being relative though, because it was “Daredevil: Born Again” compared to the three year tour of John Byrne’s Kanigher revivalism. Which I thought I hated until Eric Luke decided to tease out a love triangle between Diana and the very married Superman. Whether the third part of that triangle was Lois Lane or Batman depended on which other DC titles you were reading concurrently. A lot of people loved Phil Jimenez’s run, but this was honestly the point at which I gave up actively reading the book and started skimming. Jimenez had a gift for pursuing notions I believed in through means that were unappealing. At least it looked good. Finally, the Greg Rucka run, for which I will not advocate, but I could at least tolerate reading the dialogue again.

    In summary, I’m a Wonder Woman fan who dislikes most of her comics and welcomed the excuse to stop buying them. Like Captain America, a character I have a platonic love for, but only on a few specific runs in favored interpretations. It was a relief to see her re-embraced by a mass audience so that I didn’t feel obligated to prop her up on my own.

  8. I think the hAWKMAN Pitch in the current dc pitch contest would work with a few tweeks “there’s an edgey teen hawkman claming to be hawkman and hawkwoman’s kid that they dont remember.
    A THAT’S just an excuse to make a new hawkman. Which is kinda so what?
    b “We dont remember stinks of multiverse
    c WHY might it work? there a married couple let them have a kid!

  9. I was buying so many DC books at this period that I had all 3 of these issues, and the only one I revisited more than once is Aquaman. I’m such a Peter David fan and this series was so good. The zero issue really launched the series in a great way.

    As for last month, sorry I just never got around to writing feedback, not that I had anything meaningful to say except thank you for playing the Outcasters promo. Always appreciated!

    Hard to believe we’re nearing the finish of this show! I guess the episodes should have been numbered in reverse order so the finale could be #0. Till next time!

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