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Zero Hour Revisited – Detective Comics #678


90srevisited_zerohour

detective_comics_0678Yesterdays Gone

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Graham Nolan
Guest Inker: Bob McLeod
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: John Costanza
Assistant Editor: Darren Vincenzo
Editor: Scott Peterson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

The thought’s hit me as I get to writing about this issue–Zero Hour is beginning to wear a bit thin on me. I’ve always loved the event, the core series and the Superman tie-in issues, because those were the ones I’d read at the time, when they were first released. I was coming off my first major Batman phase, but still somewhat following the Bat-books. Now as I’m coming down to a handful of books remaining to the event, I’m eager to finish up, get to the end of the event itself and on to other reading projects (perhaps a guy diligently typing away about every issue he reads for several weeks in a given twenty-two-year-old story shouldn’t admit that, but there it is). Despite that, I’m enjoying it more than the bulk of new comics being released and appreciating it a heckuva lot more than modern events.

This issue is one with a familiar cover, though I don’t really–truly–have any conscious memory associated with it. Reading the issue itself was like reading a completely new comic…such that I cannot actually with complete confidence say that I absolutely read it in 1994…though I would have–before reading all these–sworn that I had. I’d thought something played out in a missed detail in one of the Zero issues, that after this event Batman had not truly caught his parents’ killer, that it wasn’t Joe Chill, and so on…but it seems at least the major seed of that was planted here, in this issue…and is absolutely a detail I missed at the time in terms of reading or "getting" it myself.

We find Batman responding to an alarm in the Cave…but upon emerging from the cave, finds the Manor and the world to not be the one he knows…he himself has become an anomaly in ANOTHER timeline. In this one, his parents have arrived home after a horrible night…in which their son Bruce was killed in an attempted mugging as they left a movie theater. Batman skirts the edges of awareness in the Manor, and sees a chance to salvage stuff–he KNOWS WHO the killer is, and thus how to find him immediately, this very night–and in this timeline, where he IS an anomaly, he can bring justice in a world in which he can also see his parents LIVE. And in the course of seeking said justice…Batman comes to find that the man he’s long known to be his parents’ killer…is (at least in this timeline) NOT. And before long finds himself back in his own timeline, where his parents are dead, and he now has to consider the very real possibility that he actually never HAS brought his parents’ murderer to justice…and may never actually be capable of doing so, having long since closed the case and let a cold trail go even colder.

The best way to describe my feelings on this issue’s artwork is that it’s quite solid. It doesn’t particularly stand out–in conscious memory at least, and does not in itself trigger any particular memories or feelings of simply joy–or enjoyment–regarding the visuals. But I recognize Nolan and McLeod‘s names from this era, and that’s a very welcome factor for me. There IS a definite familiarity to the art, and I definitely enjoy it…this is some of the better Batman art I can think of…and I’d certainly welcome it over a lot of more modern stuff.

Story-wise, this is also a solid issue. With Dixon on writing, I would associate it with positive quality on name value alone. I just wish I had more conscious memory of him on this book, say, than "only" on something like Robin.

That element aside…I definitely enjoyed 1. the way and fact of this issue being part of Zero Hour allowing for the scenario it does, and B. that despite its ripples on continuity, it gives a largely self-contained micro-story that works and yet (as with many other tie-ins) does not need to explain or solidify the why and how of stuff, just show us the WHAT.

I don’t recall how long it actually stuck, but I do remember this "changing the game" a bit, at least for awhile, and thus this makes for a good issue to read, outside the core event, and particularly if you followed Batman at the time.

Though in this typing I find my analysis colored by evaluating it simply as an object of the past…it’s still in the higher part of any list I’d compose of recommendations for stuff to read if not the entire event…and gives me plenty to think about from stuff as simple as the blood on the cover under Batman…while no visible wound on the body (good ol’ ’90s censorship and pushed boundaries)… or the fact that while I’ll occasionally see Zero Hour issues in bargain bins…this issue does not tend to be one of them…either people don’t get rid of it with other issues (and/or they’re bought quicker before I get to the bins) or it’s sought after enough to "hold value" in a realm of ‘regular’ back issues, not to be merely offloaded in a bargain bin.

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One Response

  1. […] #70 | Steel #8 | Superman #93 | Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #2 | Adventures of Superman #516 | Detective Comics #678 | Justice League Task Force #16 | Team Titans #24 | Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #1 | Green Arrow #90 […]

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