Zero Hour Strikes! Zero Hour #4

In Zero Hour Strikes! Episode 5, Bass and Siskoid finally hit the main series. Zero Hour #4 was the first issue cuz it’s a countdown, don’t you know. Follow our time-tossed hosts right into the vortex… (Apologies department: Our own temporal anomaly – or some background activity on our computer, really – caused sound problems in this episode, some of which we were not able to fix, including occasional crackles and pops. We thank you for your patience and will endeavor to make sure future recordings go more smoothly.)

Listen to the Zero Hour Strikes! Episode 5 below!

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Relevant images and further credits at: Zero Hour Strikes ep.5 Supplemental

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21 responses to “Zero Hour Strikes! Zero Hour #4

  1. Finally! We hit an issue of the miniseries! When will this show wrap up? 2025?

    My reply to your Lantern thoughts – yes, any and all Lanterns are superior to Hal Jordan. His original stories were great. But then he became a trucker, and dumb, and had a relationship with a teenager, and grew dumber. His is a character that nobody has done well since his initial appearances – and I think my fondness of the character is more based on the work of Gil Kane than anything else.

    As to the issue – When i first read it, I was psyched. This was supposed to plug the holes from Crisis, right? But does it succeed at that? There are some good nuggets in this issue – some good clues to for things to come.

    Was Bass scared to see so many Hawkmen at once? Did that frighten his speciest heart?

  2. This is a great set-up for the event. I still have nostalgia for the way ZH made me feel when I was picking it up, even if certain aspects of it really rub me wrong now.

    Zero Hour could certainly become a big CW event, especially if they are wanting to anchor one on the Legends. And hey, bring Hawk over from Titans and there’s your future Monarch/Extant!

    Nice insightful coverage as always, gents!


  3. Funnily enough, I was under a time crunch, rushing through production of several podcast episodes while trying to comment on the previous Zero Hour Strikes! I was listening to during social media management. I actually started on a draft for Green Lantern, fell asleep during the attempt, saved it for further reflection/editing, came back to do the Flash one from scratch while distracted, hoped it was coherent, and then went back to the Green Lantern notes weeks later to expand/tighten/publish. One thing I’m trying to do with ZHS! comments is to be reflective of material prior to Zero Hour for the tie-ins, then project from Zero Month once that coverage kicks in. You can tell how out of it I was for the Flash comments because that format is not in evidence and it’s a bit of a hash. That said, Bass is one of the most laid back, understanding, and unflappable people I’ve met in our community, and the hint of simmering annoyance in his counterpoints made it all worthwhile.

    My points about Waid Flash nostalgia (and Superman triangle number period) is that the books wouldn’t have their reputations without being published in contrast to the ’90s zeitgeist. They’re counter-programming as legacy, and I don’t think Wally West would have been demonize and demoted as he has been if he were a stronger character in concept and execution. Geoff Johns restored Barry Allen’s rogues, so that when Allen returned, it was a natural transition to him from Wally. Since Allen had the stronger origins, motivations, and lore, pretty much everything done with Wally was rendered as additional flavoring, not a strong enough mythos to stand on its own. I believe this is in part due to Wally’s ’90s dynasty being a bit of a Superman knock-off, where Allen was more his own man. As the chief architect of Wally West as would-be icon, I think Mark Waid’s lengthy tenure on The Flash ultimately came up short, because it doesn’t seem to have been embraced by anyone who wasn’t charmed by it in its original context. Further, Waid is often credited with igniting the late ’90s Silver Age revivalism, which would lend weight to his Flash tenure. I’m arguing that it at best inspired Grant Morrison to take part in an actual Silver Age revival, because Waid was too embarrassed and Bronze Age indebted to actually claim authorship of that movement (though he was among the best of those who partook of it.)

    So to summarize, I have enough affection for Buck (F’n) Rogers in the 25th Century to do an indexing podcast about it, because it came out at the right time for me personally and for others in the vacuum between the first and second Star Wars movies. Objectively though, it’s not really one for the ages– you kinda had to be there. So too, ’90s Flash.

    1. “I don’t think Wally West would have been demonize and demoted as he has been if he were a stronger character in concept and execution. Geoff Johns restored Barry Allen’s rogues, so that when Allen returned, it was a natural transition to him from Wally.”

      It has always seemed to me that it was more about name-recognition. The “Barry Allens” we’ve seen on television (both live action and animated) actually look a lot more like the *character* of Wally West than of the Barry Allen of the comics.

      YMMV, of course, but it seems to me that Wally West’s character, “in concept and execution,” has more than proven itself.

      1. Right. Obviously he is derivative of another character, so his origin isn’t stand-alone, but Wally is what we think a Flash should be like and act like as a character. Like Hal Jordan, Barry is your dad’s idea of the Flash.

        1. …or, the Wally West of the Bronze Age slowly became a Barry Allen stand-in during the Chromium Age, and his success increased as he took on more of Allen’s rogues and lore. Wally was “broken” by diverging from Allen’s path by becoming Mr. Incredible, there was a failed attempt to revisit the Wally model through Bart Allen, and then Barry Allen fully reasserted himself twelve years ago. The ties to S.T.A.R. Labs comes from Wally and were present in both of his TV series (including a version of Tina McGee that more closely resembled Sarah Charles), but his police scientist backstory and vanguard role as a super-hero are all Barry. Most people seemed to embrace Wally after “The Return of Barry Allen,” when he started to become a de facto Barry, so I’d argue that most Wally boosters are just quibbling over branding. Given the usage of Barry Allen in television and film, the broader culture have moved on from Wally, and comic fans probably should too… especially since their Wally amounted to a beta test of Barry version 2.0.

  4. I was thrilled when I heard you guys were moving on from Invasion to Zero Hour for a number of reasons. (And let me say here that I constantly ape Bass with his dramatic ‘Tie in by tie in!’ statement in the promo.)

    The thing about the main mini-series is that it is one of the DC Event comics that I reread the least. Crisis? Legends? Final Crisis? Final Night? All on the ‘every couple of years reread’ cycle. But Zero Hour? Maybe I have read it 2 or 3 times. I just feel like it didn’t necessarily accomplish what it set out to do. I feel it is sort of a pale shadow of COIE so I just haven’t picked it back up as often as the others. Throw in a doubling down on Hank Hall being a villain and I am left disinterested. So I think rereading it along with you guys should help me wrap my head around it a bit more.

    That said, the panel of all the Hawkmen is etched in my brain. I can remember when I saw that in this issue I said to myself ‘this is why they need to do this mini-series’. It was time to smooth over the burrs in the timeline that COIE left behind.

    Ironically, I find the tie-ins (‘Tie-in by tie-in!) to be much more fun. In particular the Superman/Batman crossover ones and the Batgirl issues are reread every so often. And the Zero Issues were a great jumping on point. I bought a ton of them that month. And when I see ones I didn’t buy then sitting in the bargain bins now, I buy them.

    So even if the mini-series itself isn’t loved, the result (my buying lots of new titles to sample) was probably just what DC was hoping for.

    Looking forward to reading along with you.

  5. I had forgotten that I liked the start of this series. There is a pattern of strong starts with questionable ends for DC crossovers, this is THE best example of that pattern. As I reread this I realize that the place I discovered the Wall West Flash, and convinced me to give Kyle a second chance, were both from this issue. So the crossover did what it was supposed to.

    I most remember thinking we were 100% going to get a multiverse out of the series, as I read this.

    The art is great, this series looks good even when its story is weak, and it was nice to get bright colors back- its a side effect of the digital coloring being new, all of a sudden we had brightness again. I have this series in my head as where drab DC became bright DC.

  6. Good stuff Siskoid and Bass. Your guys’ comments about the Spectre made me laugh. When Gaiman wrote him, I was onboard. And Fleisher/Aparo were legit. Otherwise, hmm.

    Also re the Time Trapper, I think of comics fans Built to Spill’s song Time Trap Don’t know if the two are related but maybe?

  7. Earth’s distant future. 32 hours ago.

    I’d been hyped up by DC’s house ads and typically elusive Wizard magazine coverage for the “Crisis In Time!” Not having invested heavily in the Post-Crisis DCU, I went into the mini-series without any particular expectations beyond it hopefully being epic. I hadn’t yet given Legion a proper evaluation, so I didn’t have any sense of Time Trapper’s importance, and in fact I’m not certain I even knew who he was. Creator Dan Jurgens was that overpraised dude from one of the Superman titles I enjoyed the least, plus he did Booster Gold and an issue of Batman with a key early Killer Croc appearance. I knew Jerry Ordway going back at least to COIE, and certainly preferred Jurgens with his embellishment, but the work was still a bit old fashioned for my taste. “Entropy” introduced into my vocabulary.

    Apokolips. Light years from Earth. 30 hours ago.

    I knew Darkseid from Super Powers and Legends (which I had yet to read in its entirety.) Metron was probably a new face.

    Earth. Gotham City. 69 hours ago.

    I’d gotten something like a seventh printing of The Killing Joke, and while I was certainly impressed by the Bolland art, Moore’s story left me cold. I knew Batgirl better from the TV show than comics. Probably wasn’t up on Oracle. I’d read a handful of Tim Drake Robin comics, but didn’t see what the big deal was. I was aware of Ace the Bat-Hound from “The Ambush Bug History of the DC Universe,” but doubt I made the connection to Joker’s reference. I still thought Joker was cool.

    Vanishing Point. 28 hours, 49 minutes ago. Earth time.

    I realize that I’m appropriating these time stamps for my bullet points, but are they ever going to amount to anything besides a heavy-handed lead-in to establishing scene/location changes? Is there a reason why they’re out of sequence? This is as Image-dumb as that one Linear Man with the Cable-wannabe cybernetic eye/arm. I recognize Waverider from Armageddon 2001, which is a sad frame of reference in the midst of all these more established but unfamiliar DC properties.

    New Earth. The 64th Century. 28 hours, 42 minutes ago.

    As mentioned, I know of Full House Kadabra, which only fuels my burgeoning dislike of Wally West, best summed up by the quote “Huh? Me?” Yeah, take the advice of a villain who was just trying to kill you and make a “suicide run.” That tracks.

    Metropolis. 24 hours, 42 minutes ago.

    I hope Siskoid used all of these stupid time stamps to plot out the episode order. Bloodlines is more epic than Zero Hour if only because it took place while Superman and Batman were going through their significant changes rather than after they’d resumed their boring status quo. Is Batman Bruce at this point? Yeah that’s right, “Prodigal Son” spins out of this.

    Star City, New Earth. 5700 A.D. 23 hours, 40 minutes ago.

    Reintroducing “Pol Manning” was a clever bit of foreshadowing, but again, you don’t get points for telling a Marvel Zombie about goofy Silver Age stuff right before you kill it. This book desperately needed more caption boxes or editorial backmatter to clue new readers like me in on what any of this stuff meant. Hell, by ’94, I’m not sure how many Silver Age readers were still around after the scorched earth policy of COIE.

    Earth. 21 hours, 38 minutes ago.

    Just because Hawkman cries “Savage” while punching some rando doesn’t mean I could connect him to the Vandal Savage I’d encountered a time or two previously. I believe I had just started picking up Hawkman monthly a few month earlier, so I kinda knew about the Carter/Katar legacy thing. The black dude was a total mystery, but not a compelling one. Page 19 strangely worked because I’d been dallying with DC’s ’90s pushes, so a Ray cameo was more intelligible than an “Inza and Kent.” Jurgens aping Mandrake on Spectre’s cape was a nice touch.

    Vanishing Point. 18 hours, 35 minutes ago, Earth time.

    Valiant did it better with “Time Is Not Absolute.” This was from back when COIE “never happened,” right? That would have been largely meaningless to me in 1994.

    Earth. 18 hours, 25 minutes ago.

    My brother randomly bought a few issues of the 1991 8-issue JSA mini-series (as opposed to the 10 issue “ongoing series” that followed) by a bunch of no-names that would go on to do !mpact Comics. It looked lame and I maybe read one (Starman?) but only flipped through the rest. I had no interest in hoary old fogies at the dawn of the Chromium Age, so these chumps rolling up made my eyes do the same. Hubcap Head crying over Wally West’s laundry might as well anticipate the Darth Vader “NOOO!!!!” meme.

    Vanishing Point. 18 hours, 19 minutes ago.

    Since we already talked Extant, and I was burning to discuss Alan Scott during the Green Lantern coverage, why not here? “Sentinel” as he would come to be known kept popping up in books as I was exploring DC in the second half of the ’90s. I was especially impressed with his and wife’s appearance in Abyss: Hell’s Sentinel, and was reminded of the super-cool house ads for Green Lantern Corps Quarterly featuring his new look drawn by Jim Balent. I finally picked some up, and discovered that title was easily the most cutting edge of the lot. The de-aged Scott looked great, and the conflict of this young man trying to stay true to Molly Mayne while being tempted by a new Linsneresque Harlequin fascinated me. I also deeply dug Sentinel’s increasing ties to DC’s supernatural bridge to Vertigo territory, and his contentious relationship with the Jared Stevens Fate. So of course Ron Marz gave up on his revision and acquiesced to the H.E.A.T. crowd by turning Scott back into an old fart before the decade was out. My appreciation for the JSA and Scott’s role in it grew over the years, but my interest in him as a solo hero never recovered from the walkback.

  8. Maybe I’m alone here, but I was a fan of Wally as Flash since his #1 issue spinning out of Legends. So it was crazy to see what ZH already did to him! No build up, just bam!, repeat of CoiE #8 out of the gate. I enjoyed you guys talking thru if Kadabra’s plan would have worked, because I’m positive Kadabra was not trying to trick Wally, so it was a legit effort. But no.

    Does anyone else think Kadabra is wearing a white Jack of Hearts costume?

    You already got into Primal Force launching from ZH, and I remember 3 other main titles launched. Dr Fate is a nod to one, the JSA is kinda-sorta a nod to another, and I still don’t know what the heck the third series was about! Staying tuned.

  9. This is probably the best issue of the series. While I enjoyed the zero issue, this one is where everything is firing on all cylinders. To be fair to the creative team, Jurgens wrote and drew five issues of this series plus his regular Superman issue and it’s impressive that it turned out as well as it did. But this one has all the promise of what is to come. I especially like the moment with Vandal Savage and the infinite Hawkmen. At the time I remember this seeming to be a big deal to me.

    And Jurgens drew a great Batgirl.

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