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Zero Hour Revisited – Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #2

90srevisited_zerohour

zero_hour_0002Story and Pencil Art: Dan Jurgens
Ink Art: Jerry Ordway
Letterer: Gaspar
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Asst. Editor: Mike McAvennie
Editor: KC Carlson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

Back in the ’90s, we had a number of odd numbering schemes. It was an age of #0 issues (not even talking about the Zero Month that followed this event)–wherein publishers would put out “origin” or “prequel” issues to something, and gave it a #0 to place it before the #1 issue. Wizard Magazine would create a number of #1/2 issues (think “0.5”) as well. Still others would do goofy stuff like Malibu with their Ultraverse line–doing a 4-issue mini-series numbered #0-3 rather than 1-4. With Zero Hour, here we are at issue #2, and it’s actually the third issue of the series…counting backwards from #4, such that when we hit 0, we’re truly at Zero Hour.

Opening on Vanishing Point, Waverider reacts to Extant’s reveal, and then we shift to Metron and Superman’s group, as they deal with a future city about to settle over New York–something that spells the end for BOTH cities. While that’s dealt with, there’s a moment to mourn, and the JSA is no more. Superman’s group moves to the 30th century to face the entropy there, while Jay plans to confront an old ally, and we get other bits of subplots amidst various heroes. Back in the 30th century, our heroes are attacked by the Team Titans and Extant, and suffer a significant loss. Salvaging the situation, the Entropy rift is neutralized, thereby accomplishing the mission in the future. The heroes return to the 20th century, while Extant rails against the situation unfolding counter to what he–as a time-traveler–knew to occur. Finally, a shadowed figure calmly, casually re-opens the rift.

This was quite the issue for me…particularly in the realm of nostalgia. A lot happens in this issue, there are a lot of references to outside events, as well as stuff that can be expanded on, as well as key, iconic “moments.” The most significant there–for me–was Jay and Alan resigning their roles, becoming the FORMER Flash and FORMER Green Lantern–passing those duties to Impulse (in Wally’s absence” and Kyle as truly THE last Green Lantern.

The torch, held with nobility and honor by the first generation–has been passed. There is no applause. No words of congratulations. The silence screams respect.

That bit of captioning has long been one of those memorable “quotes” to me. “The silence screams respect.” Such simple phrasing, and yet it conveys something huge and monumental…or what sure seemed like it and was intended to–at the time. (Nevermind what’s happened with the characters in the 22 years since 1994).

The story moves along at a fast pace, and as with the previous issue of this core mini, I continue to realize just how “core” this was, keeping the “main” events within the title, as I’ve come to realize that the tie-ins really do seem far more like tie-ins than actual expansions or continuations of the story. Any crucial scene in another book that has any key or significant impact here…is duplicated, such that even with the ultra-“compressed” nature of this story (5 weekly issues instead of some year-long spectacle with dozens of crucial side issues and the like) one does not seem to truly need to follow any of the tie-ins.

The art continues to be fantastic, and it’s rather astonishing to see the overall quality maintained on something like this–a consistent creative team on an entire Event book published weekly with a couple dozen tie-in issues…and this was weekly. (My, how Times have changed…this entire mini had to basically have already been completed before the first issue hit…rather than the Event getting halfway through and going off the rails by a couple months and causing a cascade effect!)

Strong story, great art…everything’s gotten across as it needs to; even a scene I totally misinterpreted the first time I read (I missed that the shadowed entity at the end was NOT actually Extant). At this point–with two issues to follow this as well as a number of tie-ins yet, I definitely would say that if you find these single issues or can get the collected volume–it’s well worth it…and works very nicely on its own even without the tie-ins. And though its impact has faded with time…for 1994, this was a key, crucial, important, impactful event that truly affected the entirety of the DC Universe.

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Zero Hour Revisited – Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #3

90srevisited_zerohour

zero_hour_0003Story and Art: Dan Jurgens
Finished Art: Jerry Ordway
Letterer: Gaspar
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Asst. Editor: Mike McAvennie
Editor: KC Carlson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

We open with Jay Garrick lamenting the loss of Wally–first Barry in the last Crisis, now Wally in this one. While Waverider, Jay, and the other “elder” heroes prepare to take the fight to Vanishing Point, Superman and Metron arrive at the gathering of the other heroes as they try to properly organize. There’s a brief aside with the Time Trapper, mirroring the Trapper/Rokk scene from Valor #23 (the “key moment” from that issue). Waverider and the Hawks are separated from the rest of the JSA mid-teleport to Vanishing point; where they wind up, Waverider witnesses a merging of “the Hawks,” all the versions of Hawkman over the years settling into a single entity. At Vanishing Point, Extant takes the older heroes apart, outright killing or aging all of them (removing what had kept them physically young), save Green Lantern/Sentinel (Alan Scott). Unable to  get through his powers, Extant de-powers Scott’s ring. Waverider and the “merged” Hawkman joined the “other heroes” before Waverider sensed things and disappears to Vanishing Point…where he’s too late to prevent Extant’s attack on the JSA, and the villain reveals a stunning secret to Waverider–that of who and what he truly is (beyond what we saw in the prelude story).

I’d almost swear I’ve “always” read this story in one close-together chunk…the only exception being that summer the issues were originally being published, where I’d read them the week they were put out and then had to wait until the next week for the next issue. With that in mind…it’s rather weird getting to this issue, having forced myself to read EIGHT OTHER issues between. This main story was thus majorly disrupted for me, so much that I could–in a manner of speaking–almost say that I’d forgotten what happened in the last issue.

Of course, one gets back up to speed (no Flash pun intended) pretty quickly as we get back to that plot point–a Flash has died, and it’s the “older generation” of heroes that remains once again. Though I might have argued the point reading the previous issue–that the story could only be enhanced reading the tie-ins–actually having read some of them now and been largely underwhelmed, I’m that much more convinced that the core Zero Hour story truly does stand on its own. This gives a reader what they need just in the core title withOUT being REQUIRED to read tie-in issues. There’ll surely be some exceptions to that, some rich pieces that truly make full use of the crossover, but with stuff like the Legionnaires and Outsiders issues and even Green Lantern being business as usual with only the loosest connecting tie, I’m quickly convinced they’re far from necessary.

As with the previous issue, both the story and the art are very strong, giving us quick bits on several situations, definitely moving things forward and setting up plot elements both for the rest of the event as well as character points for DC continuity going forward. This both looks and feels like the previous issue, like it’s the next chapter of the larger story–as it should!

The aging of, and deaths in, the JSA are quite memorable and iconic for me–this was my “introduction” to most of the characters and the generational concept in the continuity of DC Comics. I didn’t know who all of them were–and I’m still not familiar with all of them, though I at least RECOGNIZE them all now. Within this issue, Superman references recent events in his own book, which leaves me thinking either there’s no absolute, good order to read these in…or whatever I was working from was more than a little off.

Obviously this is not an issue one would jump into cold, and as the second issue of five, of a WEEKLY Event series, I doubt anyone would expect to. We get the continuation of the core story, key elements from other books (Rokk/Trapper) are drawn into the core story as applicable, and we have events that’ll presumably be touched on in other tie-ins for the next round of books.

All in all, after the first round of books I’d have to say I don’t feel like I missed anything by not having really read outside the Superman and Batman titles originally…and it remains now to be seen if I find more tie-ins that are suitably crucial to the core Event in the next round of tie-ins.

What do you mean it’s almost February?!?

After a long hiatus, I’m back for a fluff post, sharing some of the goodies I just snagged from a bargain bin. 63 comics for less than the price of 4 Marvels.

I’d read Green Arrow: The Wonder Year almost a decade ago for a comics class I took. That was in a collected-edition, though. And come to think of it, this MIGHT be the second time I’ve purchased this mini from a quarter-bin; I have most of the first 30ish issues of the ongoing Green Arrow series this led into.

greenarrowwonderyear

And I recognized this Cap mini-series from around that time, as well…I may have bought the first issue as a new issue back in the day…maybe the whole mini, but not being sure, and certainly to avoid the issue of rummaging through dozens of boxes, snagged all three issues:

capdeadmenrunning

Realized there was a full run of the 8-issue Green Lantern Corps Quarterly, and given the sheer size of the issues and being a run…right up my alley:

glcquarterly

While NOT QUITE a full run, Blue Beetle 1-20 were all present, and given this price for the singles, far FAR cheaper than trying to get the trades:

bluebeetle1to20

Then I noticed some Justice Society stuff. And sure enough, speaking of full runs…the 1991 JSA series:

jsa1991

And the 1992 series:

jsa1992

And of course the characters’ return in the 1999 “mini-event” or whatever it was:

jsa1999

…plus a handful of other random issues I neglected to put back. As it was, I put back probably another 40+ issues that I now regret: a lot of the “Secret Files and Origins” type specials from throughout the mid/late 90s and early 2000s for Batman, Flash, and JLA. But considering I walked away with such a significant run of Blue Beetle, and the three JSA series and whatnot…I’m a pretty happy camper.

‘course, I’m only vaguely aware that Batman #5 was part of my stack of new comics and Ghostbusters #5.

Wondering more and more what it might be like to just drop new comics altogether, and instead raid quarter bins and such. Far better value on the older stuff…especially from this comic shop!

Blackest Night: JSA #3 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Blackest Night: JSA #2 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

Magog #1 [Review]

Lethal Force

Writer: Keith Giffen
Penciller: Howard Porter
Inker: John Dell
Colorist: Hi-Fi Designs
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Assoc. Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover: Glenn Fabry (variant by Porter & Dell)
Publisher: DC Comics

I was rather surprised at this issue. I almost passed on it, figuring the character to not be something I’m interested in following long-term. But I gave it a shot, and I’m pretty much glad I did.

We open on a scene that provides us with some exposition–who Magog is, his recent past and what he’s about. We also see him into action with a couple pages that were seen originally in the “preview” in the back of a bunch of DC’s books a few weeks back, showing the more military/black ops side of Magog as the soldier. What he finds there leads him back to his current home and to confrontation with the JSA. After an exchange with Alan Scott, and an introduction to supporting cast members, we see Magog back into action. He’s currently the agent of the JSA who can or WILL get his hands dirty in ways the others can’t or won’t. Magog is not a super-hero; he’s a metahuman in a world of super-heroes, but he’s a soldier. (It would be interesting to see Magog interact with The Shield, come to think of it!).

Storywise, this issue is largely setup and contextualization. It does a good job of that–bringing one up to speed on the basics of the character, putting into place a supporting cast and status quo.

The art is high quality…I really like the visual style we’re presented with here. It’s not totally some grim ‘n gritty visual, but it’s not bright, hopeful and flashy, either. It feels very down-to-earth, and appropriate for the title character.

While this Magog is not the exact same character introduced in Kingdom Come nearly a decade-and-a-half ago, the similarities are there in tone as well as name and costume. One could envision this character developing into that one, but the differences are what add a layer of interest. Differences…or simply more information and insight into the individual…giving him depth rather than being a plot-point in someone else’s story.

Giffen seems to have a good handle on this character, and though I’m not entirely ready to “commit” to this series, I’m sufficiently hooked for at least another issue to see if the magic holds beyond this premiere issue.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Justice Society of America #27 [Review]

Ghost in the Darkness

Script and Pencils: Jerry Ordway
Inks: Bob Wiacek
Colorist: Hi-Fi Designs
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Associate Editor: Rachel Cluckstern
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover: Jerry Ordway
Publisher: DC Comics

As the various JSA members go about their lives after the latest incident with Black Adam and their membership issues, a new threat shows up. First, Alan Scott’s son traps several members in the house, forcing the team to act against him, despite his claims of just trying to protect them. It’s quickly discovered that there’s more at play than first suspected, and that it is yet another “ghosts issue” for the team.

I passed on this issue when it first shipped last week–I wasn’t interested in sticking around post-Johns, and was content to go out on the high note Johns left this book on. But guilt at being in a comic shop and otherwise walking out empty-handed, I chose this issue as my token purchase…based largely on noticing Ordway’s name on the cover.

I was definitely correct in my assumption that the visuals would be top-notch for the issue, given Ordway’s being the artist. This is beyond a passive “no complaints” about the art–this is an active recognition that the art is very strong top-level stuff that I greatly enjoyed.

The story on the other hand feels rather…generic. I’m not a fan of generic “ghosts” stories, and actually avoided the Gentleman Ghost arc that closed out the previous version of this series around Infinite Crisis.

Though the characters here all seem familiar, and I want to like ’em with OR without Johns…there’s still a shift all around, and I can’t honestly say one way or the other whether I’ll be picking up the next issue or letting this title go.

Recommended for the art and for the die-hard JSA fans. Those following the book specifically for Johns’ writing may be disappointed–at the least, don’t leap into this issue thinking it a seamless change from Johns’ tenure on the series.

Story: 6/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 7.5/10

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