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Zero Hour Revisited – Superman #93

90srevisited_zerohour

superman_0093Home!

Story and Layout Art: Dan Jurgens
Ink Art: Josef Rubinstein
Lettering: John Costanza
Coloring: Glenn Whitmore
Assistant Editor: Chris Duffy
Associate Editor: Frank Pittarese
Editor: Mike Carlin
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

I’m not sure if I’ve actually re-read this issue since the summer it was originally published; and I definitely feel like I’ve now read it slightly out of order…it seems to be kinda crammed somehow in between Zero Hour #s 4 and 3, almost like this and Man of Steel should have been read “alongside” Zero Hour #4.

Amidst all the stuff going on with Time Anomalies, Superman finds himself back in Metropolis, agonizing over a call from Ma–does he help his own parents, “only 2 people,” or focus on and stick to helping “The world” at possible expense of his parents? He makes the choice and zips to Smallville, where he finds two people claiming to be his BIOLOGICAL parents, who explain how it is that they’re there–that Krypton never actually blew up, and has entered a new golden age, but for the missing Kal-El. Their time here is limited, and they want him to come back with them permanently. Superman thus has another choice to make. But as his choice plays out, tragedy strikes, and even though he realizes they were time anomalies, he feels orphaned again. Before he can grieve much, he’s pulled back into the main Zero Hour story.

There were parts of this issue that struck me as a bit odd or “off,” as it especially seemed like Superman was a bit too quick to accept this Jor-El and Lara as genuine from his timeline, rather than accepting them more as “just more time anomalies.” Of course, being who they are, he’d be a bit understandably biased and such, so that’s not a huge deal. In their recounting events that unfolded on the not-exploded Krypton, though, there’s mention of their clothing being life-support suits or such, like what they wear is essential to literal survival…which is NOT something I consciously remember at all from anything I’ve read. I don’t know if that was some slip, or I forgot something, or what. I also feel like there was some senseless “drama” to the issue, with Jonathan and Martha “worrying” about Clark up and leaving. To me, the Superman I grew up on and the understanding I have for the Superman of this period of publishing: he was sent from Krypton in the gestation matrix, so was not even BORN yet, he was not even a conscious entity on Krypton and thus never knew his biological parents, nor had they ever met. He grew up on earth with Jonathan and Martha, not even knowing he was not their biological son until he was 18 (half his entire life as of this point if Superman was in his early-30s). Maybe I myself am biased in my own life experience, but it seems to me that there should never have been any real drama about whether or not he’d leave. Still, Zero Hour provides a perfect context to be able to touch on this, to put this experience into Clark’s story for later use.

The art seemed slightly off, though not bad at all…but I find myself pondering the credits a bit: Layout Art and Ink Art, and that could be what I noticed–Rubinstein may have had more of a hand in the art itself than Jurgens; if Jurgens did very loose art, as “layouts” for what he envisioned for the story, that keeps the consistency of the title, but it looks like Rubinstein might have been able to do more original art beyond “just” inking. Whatever the case and despite seeming slightly “off,” it worked well for the issue, holding the look and “feel” of ’90s Superman. Beyond the observation/speculation, really nothing complaint-worthy with the art!

Given Jurgens‘ involvement as the writer of Zero Hour itself, it makes this feel like it’s that much more important–with him using Superman in ZH and knowing what’s to come, he can “use” the character more effectively than someone else just “tying in” to the story. That’s also something I never consciously thought about originally but likely contributed to some of my reading experience  at the time, and what I’m noticing in the issues I’m reading for the first time now. Namely, Jurgens being one of the core Superman writers (and I was following all the Super-books) as well as writing the main Zero Hour (that I was following) meant I was reading pretty much the entirety of Jurgens‘ hand in the event, and perhaps the Superman books (with Jurgens being a core member of that writing team) by “default” got to have just a little more perceived importance.

I definitely enjoyed rereading this issue, and look forward to the other couple Superman books, though I only recall slight bits of detail from each. This issue touches directly into the looser flow of Zero Hour itself…it’s not essential, but it’s got direct touches to Zero Hour itself where most of these tie-ins tie only on the loosest basis that there’s “something” going on with Time or there’s some sort of “Time anomaly” that happens/appears in a book…so as tie-ins go, I’d recommend this ahead of most of the ones I’ve read so far. Maybe at the end of this reading project I’ll make up a list of “core” issues that I’d recommend reading along with the central mini…maybe I won’t.

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TBR Challenge: The Last Days of Krypton

lastdaysofkryptonA good friend gave me this book a couple years back. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to reading it right away…and it sat on a shelf with several other comic-related/adapted novelizations.

Then last year I came across Superman & Batman: Enemies & Allies, and wound up starting that randomly one day. I finished it fairly soon after, and realized I’d have to read The Last Days of Krypton before long–the writer had certainly proven himself to me with Enemies & Allies.

And, of course, there was that reading challenge I decided to adopt at the start of the year…this book was part of my list’s core, perfectly fitting the purpose of this challenge: to read books that I’ve been meaning to read, but haven’t been around to reading just yet. I decided to start the year out with this one, though didn’t think it would take me almost a full month to get through. (Though I determined several days ago to finish it tonight–or BY tonight–so I could start another book for February, as I should go through at least one book per month to achieve the goal of the reading challenge).

Just tonight I got to thinking a bit more "metatextually" about this book–how, in the final hundred pages or so–I wasn’t even thinking about the story being set on Krypton exactly–not as an alien planet with a different culture, anyway. It was simply the setting. Characters like Jor-El, his wife Lara, the politically-minded General Zod…they’re just who they are, in this book.

And it’s a shame, because I do think that was part of what put me off at first–I was hesitant to get into a story dealing with Krypton itself, before Kal-El was even born (even conceived, at that!). Yet, after over a year of the comics having the whole World of New Krypton thing going on…this wasn’t as much a leap as it might otherwise have been. And proved far more enjoyable.

Anderson shows a great bit of craftsmanship in the telling of this tale. At the start of the book, Krypton indeed comes off as alien–as it should. But somewhere along the way, it just simply…is. It’s no different than when I first opened Dragons of Autumn Twilight early Freshman year of high school and first discovered the world of Krynn, or the first time I read The Fellowship of the Ring and found myself in Tolkien‘s detailed landscape…or for that matter, turned the pages of a comic in which a man could fly or dress as a creature of the night and fight crime…in the daytime.

Even as events unfolded–especially toward the very end–in a way that I didn’t expect, nothing actually contradicts what I already know about Superman and his background. A couple characters have names I’m unfamiliar with, others have names that would almost have to be intentional plays on words…but nothing truly contradicts stuff.

In fact, toward the latter part of this book, I was put even more in mind of the Donner movie continuity, as certain elements came together in such a way that I was visualizing what I think I recall from the original film’s time spent looking at the end of Krypton.

Even though this book details–as the title says–the last days of Krypton, and you’d have to have zero idea who Superman is, his background, and probably not even see this book’s cover to not know how it ends….it’s the story leading there that draws one in. And Superman fan or not, this makes for a nice, solid sci-fi story…just that it has something extra going for it knowing what it technically "leads into."

All in all, a very enjoyable read–one I’m glad to have read, and I look forward to possibly tracking down some of the author’s other works at some point down the line.

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