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Zero Hour Revisited – Catwoman #14

90srevisited_zerohour

catwoman_0014Broken Mirrors

Writer: Jo Duffy
Penciller: Jim Balent
Inker: Bob Smith
Colorist: Buzz Setzer
Letterer: Bobpin
Consulting Editor: Dennis O’Neil
Editor: Jordan B. Gorfinkel
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

I was looking forward to getting to this issue, as I only vaguely recall owning (and presumably reading) the first issue, and the two KnightsEnd tie-in issues. This would be the first issue of this iteration of Catwoman that I’ve read in years, and after not caring for New 52 stuff, I figured it’d be interesting and a bit refreshing to see the "classic" ’90s costume, etc.

But then very shortly into the issue, I got sidetracked at catching a couple errors that I feel should have been caught in editing, that put me off a bit and dropped this a few notches in my esteem. The story itself is ok, but by the end of the issue, I felt like I’d missed something somewhere, as even being unfamiliar with this version of Catwoman, stuff still seemed a bit outta-nowhere to me.

Catwoman completes a new heist–stealing some sort of ornamental/antique bed dedicated to Bast, a cat goddess. She sleeps, and when she wakes, she’s in the middle of Zero Hour (though those words are not used and there’s no telling she has any hint of that story going on). The city’s gone feral–or prehistoric–and instead of her tame house-cats, she’s got a sabre-toothed tiger as a pet; instead of a butler she’s got a barbarian in her place, and…yeah. Making the best of the situation–and the excuse to don her outfit indoors–Catwoman leaps into action. She and her new barbarian friend find themselves trying to save the prehistoric cat from a hunting party, and then out of nowhere, Selina grabs the guy for a kiss, and the world goes white.

I can appreciate the adventurous hijinks of having Catwoman team up with time-displaced stand-ins for Marvel‘s Ka-Zar and Zabu, and definitely like that–by way of acknowledging this title’s place in the event–we see Selina viewing multiple versions of herself in a multi-panel mirror and all. And in a way, this having virtually zero context for me–it does not seem continued FROM the previous issue, and other than the fade-to-white signifying the end of Zero Hour #1, this doesn’t seem likely to necessarily CONTINUE to the next issue (but what do I know, having never read the #0 or #15-onward?). So on one hand it’s a "fun" sort of stand-alone/one-off story. Establish Selina/Catwoman. Change the environment, introduce shirtless-guy and ancient kitty, move into cliché story of pet wild animal being hunted. Sure. Then the kiss and…that’s it. So despite "fun" randomness, I’m just NOT *impressed* by this issue.

Visually, the art is good…though I may be biased (particularly recalling back to my 13-year-old self)…this is a book that I’d simultaneously say we wouldn’t get "today" and yet in some ways, I think we WOULD with a certain on-page sexiness and suggestion being more acceptable nowadays than 20-some years ago. And at least in retrospect, I realize that where I’ve often prided myself on having AVOIDED the "bad girl comics" until last year’s Aliens/Vampirella…I think I had a brush with them in this ’90s Catwoman title.

That said, this issue is certainly no necessity for the reading of Zero Hour itself…but it’s a fun-ish one-off. It does somewhat walk a thin line of being somehow gratuitous with that skin-tight costume leaving nothing to the imagination and yet being fairly acceptable for what it is (hey, at least she’s covered and not showing bare skin all over–it’s a Code-approved comic, after all!). I don’t recommend the issue in and of itself–it’s not something to track down. But as with so many of these tie-in issues…if you’re working on a run of the series, or this event, etc. it’s not necessarily something to AVOID.

The issue’d be worth 25-50 cents or so, but not something I’d pay cover price for, and maybe not even something I’d pay $1 for. Still, having read it, it has me curious about the series itself and thinking if I found a run of the series in the cheap-bins, I’d be inclined to snag ’em.

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Zero Hour Revisited – Damage #6

90srevisited_zerohour

damage_0006The Burning of Atlanta

Script: Tom Joyner
Pencils: Bill Marimon
Inks: Don Hillsman
Letters: John Costanza
Colors: Buzz Setzer
Editor: Jim Spivey
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

I’ve heard of Damage–primarily from back during the mid-1990s, and occasionally as a topic since–but have yet to read any issues of the series outside of this one, now. I vaguely recall knowing OF things going on but never firsthand experience actually reading them.

We open on a scene with a couple of college girls–turns out one of them is friends with Damage, and her attention is called to a small tv where news of a superhuman rumble tearing up the city includes an image of Damage in action. The scene then shifts to focus on the superhumans and what’s transpiring with them. While Damage is fighting some green-armored guy named Steelhawk, alongside an injured man (Munro?), the New Titans show up ,and a bigger battle ensues. We learn amidst the battle that Munro was once known as ‘Gladiator One’ as well as the fact that there’s some biological link between Damage and either Munro or Steelhawk…at least according to a Titan named Phantasm. A "dome" appears over the prime combatants that keeps their allies out while they themselves are bounced through time. During the time-jumping, they pick up an extra participant–Phantom Lady–and it turns out that the biological bond was likely with Munro–and that Phantom Lady (pulled into the present from the past) had a relationship with him…and THEY might actually be Damage’s real parents!

This is only the sixth issue–which would be the "final chapter" of only the "first arc" in a modern comic–so the series and character are still quite young, at their beginnings and being developed…so I have not missed out on THAT much that I know of as yet. Other than some loose references, this doesn’t have much to do with Zero Hour itself but certainly draws on the convenience of the event for some mucking-about with Time stuff that would need a lot more explanation without the event.

I recall the title character playing a key part in Zero Hour itself..though it seems that is independent of this title (or at least as it is thus far and tying to the main story).

Along with being yet another issue that doesn’t really forward the story of Zero Hour, this is also another one that isn’t bad to read but also doesn’t really impress me (nor discourage me) in story and art. It just IS. It exists, and adds ever so slightly to my general overall knowledge and context with characters but doesn’t do much to shine a huge light into some blind spots for me.

I recall there being something about Damage’s parentage being a big deal, and might be mixing him up with someone else in terms of some things Geoff Johns did later with the JSA. The reveal here of Damage’s apparent parents seems pretty significant for the title and character himself…just not much on Zero Hour.

Zero Hour Revisited – Green Arrow #90

90srevisited_zerohour

green_arrow_0090Writer: Kevin Dooley
Art: Eduardo Barreto
Colorist: Buzz Setzer
Letterer: John Costanza
Editors: Scott Peterson, Darren Vincenzo
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

Well, this was an interesting issue, even if it is–as with too many–yet another issue that does not actually add anything to MY understanding of Zero Hour as a whole, or flesh anything out from the event itself, or meet other expectation(s) I’ve long had for these tie-ins.

We open on a full page, of Ollie clocking some gang-banger, saving a woman and her child. And then the pages go split-screen on us, the top half showing Ollie catching the kid before he makes a getaway, and the bottom half showing him a second slower, having to give chase. Eventually the "dual timelines" converge again, and then we see them split back off again–the top half sees Ollie live, the bottom half, he’s shot to death. Then Batman arrives, saying "We need you," and walks the traumatized archer away…while the police clear a body, and the world fades to white.

I recall Guy (Guy Gardner: Warrior) AND Ollie being closely involved in Zero Hour itself, and being there with the other heroes at the "end" and then also being there at the end of Zero Hour itself (#0) and not off on their own adventures…so I suppose I expected some expansion on things related to that, more clarification or details of their experiences going through the event. With Ollie particularly, I’d always assumed he had some adventure–or at least meaningful extra scene–with Batgirl, to further Ollie’s righteous anger at her loss. So these issues being part of the final week of ZH, ending with stuff going to the white, blank pages–I guess it just doesn’t really work for me.

Story-wise, the issue reads really quickly–far too fast. I’m a words-reader…I appreciate art/visuals, but I tend to take the visuals in "in passing," as part of the experience…very rarely as any kind of FOCUS. (That’s why I don’t mind minimal backgrounds at points, as long as the characters in the foreground that I’m actually seeing are detailed and good looking). Something like this with large panels, "split screen," and largely "silent" have my attention for the novelty, but don’t really do much for me as a reader.

The lack of dialogue, or caption boxes, or anything to really slow me down, and HOLD my attention on any given panel means I breeze through, "taking in" the action as little more than frames of an ongoing scene.

So there’s not "much" story here. "Ollie catches the kid and he gets away, Ollie gives chase, and lives" vs. "Ollie chases the kid, and dies." While the art is solid–indeed, the focus of the issue (to my chagrin as detailed above)–it’s not the sort of work that suggests "Easter Eggs" or stuff–it carries the story, never looks weird (except the blood at the end looks like it’s a victim of censorship, yet I don’t see the Comics Code stamp on the cover), and generally is not something to push me away from the book.

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to "get" out of this issue–the cover says it’s the conclusion of a story, but I haven’t read those chapters–maybe this issue would "mean" more if I’d read those chapters. For all I know, this is a three-part story (or two, or 4+) and the entire thing is in this split-screen style.

Whatever the case…in terms of Zero Hour, nothing really here, and as an isolated issue, nothing particular about it to be a draw.

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