Zero Hour Strikes! Superman #93 and Darkstars #24

In Zero Hour Strikes! Episode 6, Bass and Siskoid follow Superman to Smallville where his Kryptonian parents have just landed (Superman #93), then to some planet somewhere for Darkstars action (Darkstars #24). It’s Zero Hour, and the answer to the question “Aren’t you dead?” isn’t always what we expect!

Listen to the Zero Hour Strikes! Episode 6 below!

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Relevant images and further credits at: Zero Hour Strikes ep.6 Supplemental

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24 responses to “Zero Hour Strikes! Superman #93 and Darkstars #24

  1. Great show, fellas! Maybe Bass should clone himself to make himself more available?

    Oh, Darkstars. I think it was known more for the then-Jim Lee clone Travis Charest’s artwork more than anything else. I never dipped my toe into that series, despite my love of Donna Troy and John Stewart.

    I think the problem with having so many Supes and Bats titles going at the time is the diminishing returns on all the crossover related stories. Take these tie-ins or Armageddon 2000, DC one million or the zero issues – some strong stories, most were dull as balls, and some stinkers. Lots of non-starter, filler nonsense. But I digress…

    1. Sorry if I like what I like and would like more of it. Is this a way to treat your honorary EP and greatest Patreon sponsor?

  2. Guys, sorry yes, I was referring to Gaiman writing the Spectre in The Books of Magic. I always liked Gaiman’s gift for characterization and thought he brought some nuance to the Spectre in BoM. I always dug the gravitas Gaiman could bring.

    I thought Dave Gibbons had a good short run on the Hal Jordan GL. I don’t know if that makes up for Parallax though.

  3. Ta for another terrific episode.

    I really enjoyed that Superman issue, I’m a sucker for Kent parental anxiety, it’s totally Silver Age, Jor-El and Lara were forever turning up to claim their kid.
    I always hated the Byrne Krypton folk outfits, they look like refugees from Alice in Wonderland, playing card people.

    I tried Darkstars but it didn’t grab me. I remember Trinity as being…. actually, unmemorable

    I hate space slang too, especially when they also toss in space font.

    Did you read the recent GL mini Blackstars, it was connected to Dark Stars and showed us how Sun Eaters are made?

    Has any character made as many post-death appearances as Abin Sur?

    Unless my mind has been Zero-wiped, Wonder Woman wasn’t fine at the end of Crisis, she was devolved out of existence.

    1. Yup, WW was turned back to clay, but no hint that Donna was not an Amazon right away. I don’t think that became a problem until Perez started his WW series. Then we started seeing mentions in Titans of Donna not remembering any of her life until she joined the team. A delayed side effect of Crisis? Or any early version of … Hypertime!! Doo-do-do-do!

  4. Dear Letters Lost in Time:

    I’ve decided to relisten to your whole podcast in preparation for your final episode.

    I don’t think these two stories used their premises as well as they could have. I never really got into Darkstars, and I think the extent of my knowledge was: another space police force, bald guy, Donna Troy and John Stewart. And I agree that Jor-L and Lora returning would have been more powerful for the Silver Age Superman.

    In some ways, the premise is a bit like that TNG episode Parallels, where Patrick Stewart resolved his contract differences and did a guest appearance as a Captain Picard who was not killed in Best of Both Worlds. It’s weird to think what that reality would have been like. Would Jonathan Frakes still have played Niles Caulder in the 2000 X-Men movie?

    Oh well, in case this letter gets lost in time — Bas, the lone Hawkman — don’t give it what it wants.

    1. I have absolutely no idea who left that last post as I know that Niles Caulder belongs in the Doom Patrol, not the X-Men. And I’m not sure anyone could replace Ronny Cox as headmaster Magnus. Oh well, you’ve got another show to discuss Cox’s talents and Star Trek: Jellico.

      Anyway, the Superman issue does seem hollow. Like Superman has no real connection to Krypton or to the alternate history. It might be more fun if the Pre-Crisis Superman showed up intstead. I know we get the Pre-Crisis Superboy, but Ma and Kent were still alive in Superboy’s time. It would be interesting to see the Superman of my youth reacting to the Kents still being alive and being engaged to Lois. At least some of the readership would have a connection to that.

      Also, it’s weird that Superman mentions that Hawkman gave him a lift to the remains of Krypton, as that was the pre-Hawkworld version of Hawkman. I kind of miss the days of just having one or two Hawkmen, and not this Ascension of the Hawkmen.

  5. Cool podcast, but Ginuwine’s song is Pony. Prince sings Doves cry. Sigh. Ya’lll mixed up Ginuwine and the Duke of Pop music. Sigh … kidding. I mean ya’ll got the song wrong, but not important. eah Dan was great on Super Man. And the Bat creators missed the boat . Sounds like this was a cool comic. Don’t have much to say about it. Yep the Kents are Supes parents. On to Dark Stars… yep they missed the boat. Doing a Diana Troy story ware she sees her many forms would have been great. Not Ah here’s Abin again.

    If he was gonna come back should have been in Kyle’s book. A Dark Star’s book should have been like old school Dr. Who. Or space vertigo. Or like Old school Star Trek. Can’t wait to hear the next pod cast.

    1. I will disavow Bass here and now. I didn’t know what he was talking about because I don’t know Ginuwine at all. Or maybe you heard the podcast from a separate timeline.

  6. This was in and around my favorite era of Superman, so I have a hard time NOT liking any comic from this period, but I get the criticism. Superman was pretty dismissive of Jor-El’s holographic “ghost” at the end of Byrne’s Man of Steel mini, so why go into such a fit here? The “what if’ elements reminded me just a tad of “For the Man Who Has Everything” by Moore and Gibbons, which is never a bad thing!

    I totally ignored the Darkstars. They showed up in crossovers and my loose-leaf Who’s Who, and that’s it. I’m glad they gave Donna and John something to do, but behind that, meh. I always liked Mike Collins’ solid artwork, but I too think of all the Travis Charest promotional art. That’s when he was in his squatty Jim Lee phase.


  7. How’d I spend more time listening to The Gary Show than Zero Hour Strikes? Huh?

    My peak moment of Superman comic book fandom was issues #12-18 of the 1987 series. He was my favorite hero for about six months during his 50th anniversary year, and then nah? I looked at the dumb mad scientist villain on the cover of #19 on the spinner rack at the convenience store in Nevada that I got most of my comics from, and just left it there, week after week, until it went away. Then I went away, back to Texas, and Superman wasn’t on the newsstands down here. I didn’t even have the option of keeping up with him until partway through the “Exile In Space” story arc, when I briefly had a neighborhood comic shop, by which point I was exploring other options than mainstream DC. I’d thumb through a friend’s copy of “Dark Knight Over Metropolis” here or a “Time and Time Again” there, but the Man of Steel felt out of step with the grim n’ gritty times. In fact. the guest appearances of the anti-hero Deathstroke the Terminator is what brought me back for a few more issues. Of course I bought multiple copies of #75 for myself and friends on day of release, with lines out the door. I skipped the funeral issues but carried the books throughout “Reign of the Supermen,” although I dropped the flagship book as soon as I could (#83.)

    In retrospect, I tend to prefer the side titles of iconic characters over the eponymous series. Even during the Byrne run, I favored the team-ups with Green Lantern and the Hawks (and Action Comics generally) over Superman solo. I’ll try not to bore everyone with another lengthy diatribe about how shallow I find Post-Crisis, Post-Donner Superman, but I will point out that nobody put as much of a spotlight on his mediocrity as Dan Jurgens. The most conventionally utilitarian super-hero artist on the most fan-serviceably basic Superman book is my biggest yawn. Pare down the supporting cast, mute any idiosyncrasy, punchy-punch heat-vision comic booking as the readers like it. Dan Jurgens’ Superman is the Pete Buttigieg of long term series runs.

    On this specific issue (which I will never read,) I have to point out that nobody expects Steve Tyler to deliver UPS packages. He can judge singing contests as a side gig and we’ll all try to forget about his becoming a young girl’s guardian so he could statutory rape her across state lines, but in the end all we want/expect from Tyler is to sing with Aerosmith. Likewise, Pvt. Steve Rogers made sense in the context of World War II missions, but think of all the years wasted trying to make him a policeman or comic artist or whatever. A dual identity isn’t really in Rogers’ character, and he’s worked so much better when he’s just been Captain America full time. Cap is just Steve with his work clothes on.

    Clark Kent is one of the pioneers of dual identity. It’s a core part of the Superman mythos, but if the identities are interchangeable, why not always be Supermaning? Lois Lane is already the world class investigative journalist, and how is it fair to compete with her while secretly having all the powers? Morally, how do you justify being Clark Kent for hours and hours every day while people around the globe are suffering? If Kal-El is just a farmboy from Kansas, why wouldn’t he throw all the nukes into the sun or carry Syrian refugees to Idaho? Isn’t that the sort of geopolitical cock-up expected from a “regular dude” with empathy? You can’t Marvel-style a Superman. The premise is too inherently big and cosmic. A Superman that can have Ma’s fresh-baked apple pie and his greatest 23 & Me Kryptonian fantasy is Super White Privilege, not super-human or super engaging to read. There’s no conflict when you have everything you could want wrapped up in a milquetoast anti-interventionist status quo stroke-fest.

    I honestly can’t tell you why I didn’t pick up Darkstars initially. It was maybe on a month when I was moving between Colorado and Texas absent order catalog access, or maybe I wanted to toss through a shelf copy first? I liked Larry Stroman on X-Factor, and I was extremely impressed with my limited exposure to Travis Charest. I do recall getting my hands on some issues where neither contributed to the interiors, which felt like an especially egregious bait & switch.

    I’m not as comfortable slagging on Mike Collins as I am Alex Saviuk, though the association alone is damning. Collins has that 1950s bloodless style Jacobs & Jones referred to as “Frigidaire.” He’s the perfect artist for a demanding scripter like a Shooter, Priest, or Moore, where following the plot to exacting detail is expected. Great artists are suffocated by that level of direction, so you maybe need a Don Perlin sometimes. But see, Michael Jan Friedman ain’t no Grant Morrison. Green Lantern Corps as police procedural works better with, y’know, the actual Green Lantern Corps. It doesn’t have enough meat on its bones to sustain a separate entity, especially without flashy art.

    Anyway, in 1994 I was collecting Wonder Woman and New Titans, plus Mike Deodato Jr. was one of my current favorite artists, so it was natural to join Donna Troy in jumping onto Darkstars with #21. I would probably have liked and remembered those stories more if I were reading the pre-Emerald Twilight implosion GL series. Instead, something-something corruption yadda-yadda pink dude framed whatchamacallit John Stewart was in there, too. This was the early years of my buying too many comics that I only ever read one time, and Darkstars was peak that.

  8. I tend to like the Batman and Superman Zero Hour tie ins as they all leaned hard into the insanity of decades of history.

    As Martin said, this drips with Silver Age pathos about parents, Superman wanting to learn more about his home planet, and his dealing with his dual backgrounds. For me, I am all about Pa Kent wisdom over Jor-El intelligence.

    As for the Darkstars, they had Travis Charest do covers (I think … curse Comic Book DB for going away!). That was the biggest draw. Even Donna Troy couldn’t get me to collect this! That is saying something!

      1. Yeah, I don’t get Shag and DWC’s gnashing of teeth over Comic Book DB. It had its benefits, especially the ability to see creators’ bios sorted by discipline, but it was typically a distant third or fourth option for my research. GCD, Comicvine, and Mike’s each have specialties that I find more valuable. When/if any of those three go, then there’ll be rending of garments.

  9. (Insert 20 page story about how much I love this era of Superman.)

    Dan Jurgens never had a bad inker for an extended run during his time on Superman. From Art Thibert to Brett Breeding to Josef Rubinstein to Norm Rapmund, it was all good. They all had subtle differences but I liked all of them in different ways. During this Post Return era Jurgens really opened up his page designs and it was all gold until he stepped down as penciller in favor of Ron Frenz (with some Gil Kane fill-ins). This issue may have looked a little looser, but I still enjoyed it.

    Between certain recent realizations and your commentary, I came to the conclusion that while I will usually find something to like about any iteration of Superman, this one will always be my favorite. Clark thinking of himself as human, Kryptonian second will always work better for me. I don’t begrudge anyone their personal taste, but if I am going to read an extended run of the character I have to connect with him in some way and this version just does it for me.

    I read that issue of Darkstars for FCTC’s coverage of Zero Hour around five years ago and had no memory of it. Take from that what you will.

    And despite our mutual love of Highlander and the movie Kuffs, David is dead wrong about Superman’s crossover issues being dull. With the exception of the Eclipso annuals I sometimes liked the crossover issues better than the main series. I hope he and I can still be friends.

  10. Okay, Bass, did you work out the timeline so far? How long ago did everything happen? Just on Earth in the “present?”
    Why would any version of Jor-El go to the Kent home? “Let’s go to Earth and surprise grown-up Kal who doesn’t know us!” “Where will we find him?” “Well, we could send him a message to meet us, or we could go to his work-place, or to where he lives, but my ‘son-detector-beam’ can only find where my son was 20 years ago. Must be this ‘time out of joint’ business.”

  11. I barely remembered Superman #93 on this reread. The alternate history was interesting, but not that compelling. And gotta say, the senseless killing of Jor-El and Lara turned me off. Why do that? Does it really add anything to post-Crisis Superman for him to experience the death of his birth parents, except to give him 2 pages of the sads? Not a standout issue for me.

    Darkstars was a thing that I heard about, bought 2 issues of, and that was that. Donna joining was mildly intriguing, but only because I was still buying Titans and would continue for quite a while longer. I wonder who’s idea it was. Friedman team to give the story a twist with a new lead? Wolfman to get Donna powers again so she could rejoin the Titans properly, after being non-powered since the Total Chaos story?

    Ooo, what if the story had featured Donna meeting the pre-Crisis Diana! Is it bad that the suggestions you guys give sound far more compelling than the story that was done? Yes. Yes it is.

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