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Zero Hour Revisited – Zero Hour #0

90srevisited_zerohour

zero_hour_0000Zero Hour

Story and Layout Art: Dan Jurgens
Ink Art: Jerry Ordway
Letters: Gaspar
Colors: Gregory Wright
Asst. Editor: Mike McAvennie
Editor: KC Carlson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

Here we are, at last–the final issue of Zero Hour itself. We’ve seen time anomalies pop up, and worsen. We’ve seen heroes discover time is being destroyed in the past and the future, working toward the present. We’ve seen the emergence of Extant, and the fall of the Justice Society. We’ve had dozens of tie-in issues where few have directly been part of this core event, though a fair number have danced on the edges. We’ve seen Hall Jordan–former Green Lantern, now Parallax–revealed as the sentient, actual manipulator of things as he seeks to wipe the slate clean after his own trajedies. The heroes have failed, all time and space has been destroyed, and a handful of heroes pulled outside it all, while another small handful remains with Parallax.

Hal prepares energies for the re-creation of the universe, of all existence. His way will see many worlds, and all wrongs will be set right. There will be the Earth everyone knew, minus stuff like the Coast City disaster. There will be a world that Batgirl remembers, in which she was never assaulted by the Joker. Even Extant will have his own world to rule over. Everyone will be happy. This is opposed–how can Hal be God? Waverider and his group of heroes attacks, disrupting Hal, and ultimately–after quite a scuffle–the universe IS reborn…but it unfolds "naturally" withOUT any one entity controlling it, tweaking it. As such, events unfold mostly as remembered, but here there are no alternate timelines, so everyone, everything is folded into one single chronology. The potential time-loop is closed, and all it costs is Hal Jordan and the young Kyle Rayner…while Green Arrow is wracked by the guilt of losing (having had to try to kill) his best friend.

For some reason, the phrasing "the universe is born old" sticks out to me, reading the issue. That may be random or personal and get into stuff I’m not really going to get into in a comics blog, but it’s a key phrasing to my reading.

A lot happens in this issue–look a couple paragraphs above, and that feels like scratching the surface. And yet, it’s a simplistic issue. Time is restarted; Hal wants to tweak it his way, but he’s stopped and so it restarts and unfolds naturally, so it’s similar to before, with small adjustments that functionally "explain away" continuity glitches and timing and such; shuffling a few events here and there to mash into one specific timeline.

We’re left with the notion that anyone that died via entropy or the time fissures has been restored…while anyone who died "outside of Time" (such as the Justice Society) remains dead. Victory, but at a cost.

The art and visuals remain excellent here with clean, crisp pages and dynamic layouts and (to me) iconic scenes playing out.

I don’t know if I’d recommend this as a stand-alone issue out of context of its other issues, but in a way it does work as a singular thing. You open on nothingness, and from that, Hal and his group; the opposing group, we see the FINAL final battle, the villain defeated and the universe restored…and a hint of what’s to come, as well as a fold-out timeline laying everything out for now and moving forward into the rest of 1994 and beyond. So it works as an artifact of sorts, as seeing the end of the story. And if you’re actually going to read it–whether re-read or you’ve never before read it–it’s definitely worth getting if you come across it. But it’s even better if you can snag all five issues–4/3/2/1/0–and read this core story even without any of the other tie-ins!


Going beyond the issue itself and expanding on stuff…

This is a really effective issue and makes me think. There’s a part where Hal smiles, explaining he just wants to make everything right, he wants everyone to live, where I wonder if the intent was to go for a "creepy" smile, or a "mad" smile, as if Hal’s insane. Personally, I have always–and again this time through–found myself wondering ok, why SHOULDN’T he be able to fix things? He’s not talking about recreating a universe that he RULES, or subjugating entire populations, or ending his actions with half the living entities dead, or stuff like that. He’s not targeting any particular people to wipe them out–he’s not even talking about killing Mongul. He just wants a universe where wrongs are set right, and Coast City never blows up.

Yet the argument opposing him makes sense–who is HE to singularly dictate events? Things happened for a reason, and need to remain that way, or Time WILL be altered. So really, my heart hurts for the guy, on the surface, and without considering that he was willing to wipe out the entire universe (he was gonna put it back…). And in the end, all the ramifications and little detailed points are far too numerous to address in a blog post.

I buy into this. I didn’t get into comics until about 2 1/2 years after the original Crisis. While I’d read a couple issues of Armageddon 2001, and a number of Eclipso: The Darkness Within and eve more of the Bloodlines stuff…and of course Doomsday/Funeral for a Friend/Reign of the Supermen, as well as Knightfall, KnightQuest, and KnightsEnd…this was my first DC Universe-wide event of this scale. This story ironed out details I didn’t even know at the time were issues. But it did solidify for me the notion of everything being in one single timeline…and the issue even provides a timeline, concretely laying out where/when major things happened (at least as relevant to the publishing schedule of DC in 1994!).

This was epic, and really set the standard for me of what great events could be. Of course, I’d mainly read only the core series, the Superman chapters, and several others, so it wasn’t until my current reading project of going through the entirety of the event–every single tie-in I’m aware of–that I saw the major cracks in that, and how so many issues were only loosely connected.

Looking back on this current reading experience vs. 22 years ago, I don’t feel like I actually DID "miss out on" anything back then. I did not find anything in these various issues that expanded my understanding of the story or filled in any gaps that I’d truly wondered about or that truly impacted the story…and I was disappointed at some that I’d expected would be expanded on/filled in that really were not. It seems like the issues I’d read back in the day–the Superman titles, Batman, Green Lantern, the core mini–were very much a complete enough experience.

That said, this has provided me a "survey" of a month’s worth of DC titles from July 1994, basically sampling over 30 different titles (though several "families" of related titles are in that).

There’s a lot more that can be discussed on Zero Hour itself–as a story, as an event, on ramifications and implications in-story and on a meta level. Structurally, I found this to be a solid event, and going back the 22 years, it really "set the standard" for me, and I truly MISS when even a universe-wide MAJOR event would "only" take up one publication month–with a WEEKLY core series and just one issue of tie-in per TITLE (though related titles could expand to have larger arcs tying in).

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The Weekly Haul – Week of September 28, 2016

As far as visiting a comic shop goes, this was another "small week" for me…with actually only one totally new-this-week issue!

weeklyhaul_09282016

Action Comics has remained an immediate-buy for me, even when it’s out the same week I expect the monthly shipment from DCBS. For "only" $2.99, the title has remained thoroughly enjoyable to me and well worth the immediacy to get to read it day of release.

At a friend’s recommendation, I’d checked out Teen Titans last week, though it was actually from the week before, with it following up on the situation with Tim Drake. But much as with Justice League #52 with the Lex Luthor "prologue" to the current Action Comics run, I wanted a copy in print to file with all my Rebirth stuff. (I passed on the Teen Titans: Rebirth issue as I’m expecting the DCBS shipment in the next couple days and figure I could wait a couple/few days rather than double-purchase numerous extra issues).

Finally, in part listening to a podcast with folks discussing the Mike Grell Green Arrow run, I decided to snag the first volume. I know there are already at least 5 or 6 volumes, with a 6th or 7th solicited for December, so I know it’s a good series of volumes with plenty available…not like I’ll get stuck only being able to read 1 or 2 before having to resort to singles or such. While not the "fat volumes" I’ve been preferring for late-’80s/early-’90s reprints from DC, at the smaller issue count, it has a smaller price…so…c’est la vie.

$21 for an all-DC purchase of a 6-issue TPB and 2 new/recent issues…where the same would likely have been $30ish for a Marvel purchase.

The Bebop Three – TMNT Toys

Cleaning out a storage room, I recently came across one of my oldest original TMNT action figures: Bebop.

I’d love to re-find my Rocksteady, as that was THE first figure I got, back in those dark days when numerous stores that didn’t even deal in toys had the TMNT figures, but no one seemed to have ANY of the Turtles themselves.

But that’s probably more a topic for some other post.

For now, I present the three incarnations of Bebop that I am aware of presently represented in action figure form (and not counting the oversized supposedly super-poseable figures or mini/vinyl figures…just the "standard" action figures).

bebop_three

Front and center is the original, who honestly–the more I look at him–just looks really weird to me at this point. On the far right is the 2016 live-action movie version. And back on the far left is the "current cartoon" version.

It’s interesting enough to me to compare the three. The original is…well, the original. A new character created specifically for the then-new cartoon series, a mutant/animal character to be non-human, for the physical violence (same as the Foot being robots, so it was not actually ninja animals beating up on humans). Mutant warthog, various accessories and such playing off the "wackiness" of the toy line, etc. Aside from the face, a muscular, bulky character that one probably would NOT really want to mess with.

The movie version takes the bulk to a different extreme, giving the image of say, a significantly overweight biker or such with this huge beer gut and too-small vest with no undershirt…if not just some "fat slob" and such (foregoing any comparison to bikers).

The current cartoon version is a much smaller, slimmer and aerodynamic image that retains the mohawk and gshades but otherwise quite a different interpretation.

Forgive the possible mental imagery, but the cartoon version seems to answer the question of "what if 1980s Bebop and Movie Bebop had a kid?"

Meanwhile, I would love to have "regular sized" TMNT action figures based on the IDW version of the characters. Those comics are what finally got me to "accept" Bebop and Rocksteady as "valid" characters as an adult, having come to see them as nothing but ridiculous, pointless, and dumb prior to the new IDW incarnation.

New Books And How They Could Have Been Better

Taking advantage of an online discount, I snagged several volumes recently that I was really quite interested in…if not entirely "justified" in ordering.

new_ist_books

I’m at least the previous volume behind in reading on The Walking Dead. But I really did not want to let myself get away from "keeping up with" the series in collected volume format…and I can definitely see sitting down and binge-reading several in one go, my periodic binge rather than slogging through issue by issue.

I’d heard really good things about Titans Hunt, and rather than track down 7 or 8 issues at $3+ apiece, I waited a couple extra months for the collected volume. While I certainly do NOT disapprove of it also containing an issue of New 52 Justice League along with the Titans: Rebirth issue…it kinda makes the Lois and Clark volume look a little light by comparison.

I thoroughly enjoyed Superman: Lois and Clark as a series before I had any inkling of a Rebirth or this Superman (the closest to "my" Superman I see in modern comics) "taking over," and was quite thrilled that "even though" the series was retroactively a "mini-series," it was leading into the character taking over the main books.

But honestly…if Titans Hunt can include two additional issues beyond its core-titled run…why the heck did this Superman volume not contain Convergence: Superman #s 1-2?!? The inclusion of just those two issues would have pretty much made the volume as perfect a collected volume as I could imagine.

I have no desire to buy one of a bunch of other TPBs "just" to have those two issues on my bookshelf. I might have to just bag the Convergence issues and slip ’em in between this and whatever’s on the shelf next to it.

TMNT Toys – Armaggon

For me, at least, looking at the TMNT toys has become boring and stale–already having all the figures I’m interested in, or not willing to play the hunting game to get several that as a group justify each other (such as the frogs and I just can’t get behind this version of Mondo Gecko, and I’m still waiting for Man Ray…)

However, the other day I stumbled across one that I hadn’t even thought about being made (or had forgotten), but is truly a no-brainer for me on getting–I didn’t want to spend the money just then, but dreaded the hassles and gas money driving all over the place hunting it down later:

Armaggon.

Granted, the toy is based on a derivative version of the actual character I’d want, but it’s better than nothing.

mighty_mutanimals_0007     tmnt_adventures_0043

The character was a villain introduced in the Archie TMNT Adventures continuity, first in a fight with Man Ray and then a 3-issue story The Future Shark Trilogy. The character was also revealed to have been working with a version of Shredder and another villain, Verminator-X (also from the future)…all of which was part of a relatively long-running element of the "future turtles," including the Cyber Samurai TMNT.

I always liked the villain, and was rather disappointed at the version concocted for the current tv series.

Still, as said–better something than nothing!

tmnt_toys_armaggon_front

Here’s the front of the packaging…

tmnt_toys_armaggon_profile

and here’s the "profile card" for the figure–I’m glad they’re still doing these on the backs! Not as cool as the file cards on the 1980s/1990s line, but again, better than nothing!

tmnt_toys_armaggon_back

And the full card back. I’m reminded that I still have not picked up any version of Rahzar…though with no Tokka equivalent, not as much interest. Plus, I already got Dogpound, so…yeah.

I wouldn’t mind getting Mondo Gecko eventually, I just don’t like this version of the character. Similar for Napoleon Bonafrog.

Of actual interest to me on this cardback, though, is a human version of Karai, that I’d actually be interested in owning (unlike the Karai Serpent released in the past).

Kinda hard to believe this line’s crossed the 4-year mark!

Hopefully we get some more new figures, and hopefully it is not hurt on the whole by the "integration" of the movie line…

What If…’The Death of Superman’ Happened in 2016?

superman_075cBack in 1992, DC treated us to Doomsday!, or The Death of Superman. The event played out across six weekly issues of the Superman titles of the time, with a seventh chapter in a Justice League America tie-in issue.

While the various titles went through multiple printings, the cover images stayed the same. DC would add a Roman Numeral to the cover copy–II, III, IV, etc to denote which printing the issue was. To add further difference to the printings, the color of the title logo would be changed from the original.

This meant that the cover image of Superman: The Man of Steel #18 was distinctive and remains iconic, 24 years later. Ditto the various other issues.

Especially on the "key" issue–Superman #75.

Granted, there were actually multiple covers for Superman #75. There was the "black bag edition," also known as the "collector’s edition." This was only available through comic shops (the "direct market") and outside of a "platinum edition" I believe only had a single initial printing.

superman_075b     superman_075a

The "collector’s edition" cover itself was a grey tombstone. This edition was what would in contemporary terms be the "variant" edition.

The "regular" edition–the "newsstand edition"–fit the usual/standard trade dress of the time, and featured an image of Superman’s tattered cape caught on a pole amidst the destruction in Metropolis. Subsequent printings–as mentioned above–change the color of the Superman logo and included a Roman Numeral to denote that each printing was no longer the first printing.

I believe the issue went through four printings–I have never been made aware of a fifth or later. (Exception being years-later reprints, like the Millennium Edition or stuff included with toys, etc.)

That was all fine, I was ok with it–retailers could order however many copies of each edition (though "in the moment" few ordered enough). The later printings kept the issue around to satisfy overall demand…and the cover image became and has remained iconic. There’ve been a number of subsequent comic covers over the years doing the "homage" thing based on the Superman #75 newsstand edition.

That was 1992.


If Superman #75 was published in 2016, in the present? There’d be a zillion variants, totally diluting the cover and any singularly-iconic imagery.

deathofsuperman_03     deathofsuperman_04

A set of two covers that placed together form a single wider image. Why not get folks to buy two copies of the issue with different images just to get one image?

deathofsuperman_01

But hey, there’d also be the wraparound cover, showing the actual death of Superman as a single cover.

deathofsuperman_02

And another wraparound, showing a fallen Superman with Doomsday’s shadow…effective imagery in general, but also not in keeping with the story itself as the two fell together/simultaneously.

deathofsuperman_08     deathofsuperman_11

Regardless of the fact that there’d be the "upcoming" Funeral for a Friend story (also known as World Without a Superman), there’d be at least a couple of "funeral covers" for the actual death issue.

deathofsuperman_07     deathofsuperman_15

There’d be the generic-ish images of Doomsday’s fist with Superman symbols.

deathofsuperman_10     deathofsuperman_19

There’d be a couple that showed Superman is potentially victorious, despite the cover blurb proclaiming The Death of Superman!

deathofsuperman_05     deathofsuperman_06

deathofsuperman_09     deathofsuperman_21

There’d be the generic-ish Superman and Doomsday slug-it-out images with even a "photo cover" of a statue thrown in.

deathofsuperman_25     deathofsuperman_26

Superman and Doomsday colliding covers…

deathofsuperman_23     deathofsuperman_22

Another collision cover, and a generic (yet cool-ish) Superman with Doomsday looming behind him (or the shadow of the creature somehow).

deathofsuperman_18     deathofsuperman_28

There’d be the generic "bleeding-S" covers. Promotion for the comics, and of course there’d be a ready-made animated movie already, with toys and such to further tie-in.

deathofsuperman_12     deathofsuperman_14

There’d be a painted "moment of death" cover, and a "concept sketches" cover.

deathofsuperman_13     deathofsuperman_16

deathofsuperman_24     deathofsuperman_27

There’d, of course, be the Doomsday-centric covers, showing off different takes on the creature in various poses. Recognizable as the creature, but not necessarily anything iconic or singularly stand-out. Or to BE stand-out, make that one of Doomsday reaching toward the reader a 3-D cover!

deathofsuperman_17     deathofsuperman_20

And aside from the different takes on the creature looking somewhat like he does in the actual story, there’d the the much more exaggerated, flashy takes on the character, going a bit beyond.

And there’d be way more fun than just these! See below for even more thoughts on the matter, as I’m "breaking" the post here for length on the front/main page of the blog.

Continue reading

Zero Hour Revisited – Booster Gold #0

90srevisited_zerohour

booster_gold_0000Blue & Gold Chapter 1: The Secret Origin of Booster Gold

Written by: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Pencil Art by: Dan Jurgens
Finished Art by: Norm Rapmund
Colors by: Hi-Fi
Letters by: Randy Gentile
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover by: Jurgens & Rapmund
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

I probably should have actually tucked this in with the "week 3" issues, as this 1. does not end on white pages and 2. takes place prior to events seen in "week 4." C’est la vie…I put this issue almost at the end of stuff because of it being a "retroactive tie-in" published a decade and a half AFTER the actual series.

This issue sees Booster Gold and the Blue Beetles travel through time, and cross paths in the timestream with Parallax (Hal Jordan) and Extant (Hank Hall) circa Zero Hour, 1994. Parallax damages their time-bubble and they’re forced into the 25th Century (with no need to chase down the time-trouble-makers, as they’ve already been dealt with IN Zero Hour–oops, we’ll see that shortly). Turns out the exact day the group emerges in is the day that Booster "threw" a football game and was caught doing so. While striving to ensure that this timestream is not disrupted, they use resources available to continue their own mission and we learn a bit more about Booster’s background as well as the Blue Beetle (several of ’em!) before things have to be dealt with–like putting Dan and Jaime back in their own times without any memory of this issue or the previous having happened…and Ted’s poised to be another "Hero You’ve Never Heard Of" alongside Booster… it’s Blue & Gold, reunited! Though the two quickly realize there’s a bit of a Brother Eye problem that may end things before they’ve truly begun.

This issue was actually published in 2008, some 13 1/2 years after Zero Hour. We were post-Infinite Crisis, post-52, mostly through Countdown, heading toward Final Crisis. And in the early issues of the Geoff Johns run on Booster Gold, with art by Dan Jurgens–the character’s creator and Norm Rapmund‘s excellent inks. And I recall this being one of the more fun series at the time, certainly one of my favorites.

In fact, I had covered the issue at the time, for comiXtreme (and republished in this blog years later), and rated it quite highly. That particular review was based on the issue in that context rather than as a random issue added to this mix, hence any discrepancies between then and now.

Ultimately (given the 14-year-gap in publication) this issue does nothing for the understanding of Zero Hour itself, moving the 1994 series along, etc. But this makes a fun tie-in and providing a more grounded "time" to touch base with–a nod to older/longer-time readers–while serving its own story.

This issue actually kicks off the second arc in the Booster Gold title, and leaves me quite interested in re-reading it…unfortunately, I don’t believe I have any of the early collected volumes, nor ready access (consolidated) to my singles at the moment.

I don’t recommend this in context of Zero Hour itself, really, but it was a great throwback issue, touching in continuity and playing off the #0 issues concept (this was the seventh issue of the series). But as a Booster Gold story, I very definitely recommend the Blue and Gold arc that this kicks off, as well as the first one, 52 Pickup.

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