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Zero Hour Revisited – Justice League International #68

90srevisited_zerohour

justice_league_international_0068Triumph

Writer: Priest
Penciller: Phil Jimenez
Inker: John Stokes
Colorist: Gene D’Angelo
Letterer: Kevin Cunningham
Assistant: Ruben Diaz
Editor: Brian Augustyn
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

I really WANTED to like this issue, and the story, given Priest‘s the writer and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed other stuff he’s done. But particularly for this final chapter, I’m just left rather underwhelmed.

We basically pick up with the pieces from the first couple chapters of this Return of the Hero story, and a mashup of scenes ultimately results in defeat of the enemy, and the group(s) making up with Triumph, some subplots touched on for later, and finally the Zero Hour final-week fade-out to white.

I suppose this simply was a product of its time, to say nothing of having the FEEL of a random "filler" story thrown in to bridge whatever had come before and whatever was coming next, providing some filler story that could tie in to "time travel/time anomalies" and serve as the three Justice League titles’ entries in the Zero Hour event.

The story in and of itself isn’t horrible or anything, but just isn’t much to my taste; perhaps largely for being in the middle of a major "blind spot" for me with the League and the characters involved–this is not the Justice League that was "current" in 1992 tying into the Death of Superman, nor is it the Morrison-era League from when I branched out more in the later ’90s.

The art also isn’t bad, but it doesn’t blow me away, either. It fits the story, and has the "feel" of the era.

Perhaps there’s more depth to be found, but I’m reading from the perspective of "just read and enjoy the entirety of Zero Hour." From that angle, this is filler that fits better than a lot (it involves time anomalies) but doesn’t really seem to directly affect anything with the "core" Zero Hour story itself and so is ultimately passable. I would not recommend this issue by itself as a sole, single issue…but if you can find all three chapters of Return of the Hero! in the 25-cent/50-cent bins and you’re interested in a Priest-written Justice League story set firmly within its 1994 context, this’d be worthwhile enough.

All in all, I’m ready to move on, and have actually kinda burned myself out on these such that it’s getting to be a bit of a slog to get through all these tie-ins…especially as I’m itching to get to Zero Hour #0 itself.

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Zero Hour Revisited – Guy Gardner: Warrior #24

guy_gardner_warrior_0024Killing Time!

Story: Beau Smith
Pencils: Mitch Byrd, Phil Jimenez, Howard Porter, Mike Parobeck
Layouts: Jackson Guice
Inks and Finishes: Dan Davis
Colors: Stuart Chaifetz
Letters: Albert De Guzman
Edits: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

I expected a lot of this issue, and unfortunately found myself rather disappointed. Guy, Steel, Batgirl, and Supergirl face Extant, and are thrown through time, bouncing from dinosaurs to Guy’s own past with a woman he’d loved but who died in Coast City.

Reading this issue as an isolated thing, it just didn’t do much for me. Now, I’m a fan of Guy, and have read at least a couple issues of his series before (including, I think, some sort of Year One story and a followup to Emerald Twilight–so with this, that’s probably at least 10 issues of this series I’ve read). I’m familiar with the character from the Eclipso: The Darkness Within annuals (his appearance in the Adventures of Superman one where he first has the yellow ring) and his being part of the Justice League at the time (Death of Superman stuff), and have gotten a lot more familiar with the character in the 20+ years since.

But this issue just felt like it was all over the place…and all I can REALLY tell is that Guy’s new getup is just that–new–he’s still learning what it (and he himself) can do. That these characters are fighting Extant in this issue, that they’re bouncing around through time–that certainly makes this a nice tie-in to Zero Hour, one that truly deserves that banner on the cover, and serves as a RELEVANT tie-in. So even being all over the place, its "fun factor" is there a bit…though I don’t know that I’d particularly recommend it in and of itself.

Visually, I noticed a mix of art styles–PARTICULARLY toward the end when the visuals went toward something resembling Batman: The Animated Series and Darwyn Cooke…it was not until I keyed out the credits for this post that I realized there were FOUR different pencilers. I’m not sure if it helped having Guice doing layouts or not…except that despite multiple artists it at least kept panels to one vision so nothing was overly "out there" or varying drastically from the others. None of the art singly was bad, but it was a bit jarring going from grittier to simplicity reminiscent of Cooke. Not knowing any behind the scenes stuff regarding this specific issue, I can’t comment on that–but I do definitely appreciate what I know now about comics in general in 2016–where I can "assume" that this issue was running late and so the art was divided up to make sure the issue would be done on time as it is a Zero Hour issue and thus HAD TO be out during Zero Hour, which only lasted one month. And with this ending on the blank pages, that sticks it as intended for the last week of the month…where even a SINGLE WEEK slip would put it out of sync with the event itself.

I don’t care for the cover–I kinda consciously "know" that’s supposed to be Extant’s face…but with the fire effect, just the face looks like this is some other villain or a fire-entity or like some X-Men character or something…show me the image without the Zero Hour banner and I would not at all think "Extant" OR "Zero Hour."

Ultimately, this is (along with Batman #511) probably the closest-tied issue to Zero Hour, making it one that you’d definitely want to read with the main series if you’re going for an all-in experience on the reading. By itself, I would not recommend it AS some destination-issue or to seek out as a single issue. As part of Zero Hour or as part of reading the title in general, I think it fits quite well.

Zero Hour Revisited – Team Titans #24

90srevisited_zerohour

team_titans_0024All Good Things…

Writers: Jeffrey Jensen & Phil Jimenez
Penciller: Nigel Tully
Inkers: Andrew Pepoy, Rus Sever, Dan Davis
Letterer: Albert De Guzman
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Assistant Editor: Chris Eades
Editor: Rob Simpson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

This is another issue I’d never read before, and really had very little expectation going in. It’s also one that didn’t truly engage me…other than Garth (Aqualad), I don’t even know who any of the characters are. I know the NAME Terra but not the character (despite knowing OF Titans history, they remain yet a blind spot in my comics experience). So while I could literally, physically "follow" the story, page after page…this was much as I’d imagine tuning into a semi-popular tv show’s final episode without ever having seen prior episodes and only having commercials to go on for the past.

Given that this really is not at all intended as any kind of jumping-on point (it’s actually the end point, kinda-sorta-maybe-somewhat wrapping things up) and seems to dovetail into Zero Hour itself (with the final, ultimate payoff coming in that and not even in this 24th issue of its own run!), this is yet another tie-in that does not seem relevant nor important to Zero Hour. It fleshes stuff out for me a bit in that it’s more content I’ve now read, but does not change any of my understanding or identification with any of the characters and such.

The writing is satisfactory for my experience…but not having read any prior issues, not being familiar with the characters and story, recognizing the intent is not to have someone jump in cold, etc. I cannot really judge it and really have nothing to compare it to. I got what I "expected" out of this, I guess.

Visually I wasn’t blown away by the art. It’s a bit "off" from what I expected, but really not bad. As with the writing, I don’t have much of anything to compare it to, so it really just IS.

Ultimately…I’m really only glad to have read this for the sake of having read it; checking off another box in my read-through of everything I can find directly involved in Zero Hour. Unless you’re reading this series itself, all you need to know about the Team Titans seems to be played out in Zero Hour itself and if you try to go on this issue alone, you won’t really have much more context with the issue than without.

52 Week #24 [Review]

Quick Rating: Quite Good!
Story Title: Just Imagine

The rise of the NEW Justice League, what the Martian Manhunter’s been up to, a bit of magic, and the origin of Booster Gold (from the JLA’s archives).

52week24Writer: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Pencils: Phil Jimenez
Inks: Andy Lanning
Colors: David Baron
Lettering: Pat Brosseau
Assistant Editors: Harvey Richards & Jeanine Schaefer
Edited by: Stephen Wacker
Cover Art: J.G. Jones & Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics

The first thing that stands out with this issue is the cover…the flag background seems to be quite similar to the one used for last month’s Justice League of America, perhaps a simple nod to that series and what this issue represents story and history-wise to the overall Justice League. (That Ambush Bug has a shirt reading ‘This Shirt’s a Clue’ is amusing in itself, given all the little clues folks look for that I tend to not "get.")

This issue basically serves to introduce us to the "new" Justice League that’s forming in the absense of the big guns. We also get to see what the Martian Manhunter’s been up to the last few months, and the continuing development of the Ralph/helmet plot.

This issue’s art by Jimenez is great overall, capturing a detailed, clear look at the events of the story and its characters. The bottom-right panel of the first page with Ollie is possibly the best I’ve seen the character look in recent memory (granted, I don’t read the character’s solo title). The visuals just seem to click in this issue, and aside from the occasional apparent shift (go from that panel with Ollie to the 3rd page and compare it visually to Firehawk’s cape/wings/whatever to get what I mean) is very much up there in my list of well-done art that is cool to look at in itself rather than "merely" as a vehicle to suggest imagery for the story being told.

The story itself here runs true-to-form of late for this title…rather than a couple pages here and there for a bunch of simultaneous plots, the core of the issue ("episode," if you want to use the tv analogy) focuses on Firestorm’s Justice League forming (they’re working to recruit Green Arrow as this issue opens), chronicles their first big battle, and sets the stage for events to come. In a way, the plot of the issue is largely simplistic–nothing too terribly deep–but it shows development of events as well as the characters (Firestorm–THIS Firestorm–pulling together a Justice League? Skeets back? Citizen recipients of Luthor’s metahuman treatment springing into action?) Components just fall into place believably, and I think we’re really beginning to see payoff from the foundation the earlier issues worked to lay.

While we don’t see MUCH of the "usual" cast, we continue to see the interactions between the DCU characters active during this year. Though just a couple pages, the Black Adam Family scene would hold very little resonance had we not seen the development of things with Black Adam himself the last 5-6 months, nor the last several months’ development with Isis, and so on.

Following this series from the beginning allows for that deeper "getting" of the overall story…but it by no means excludes one from reading this issue in particular. Even if you’re not following this series, I highly recommend this issue, for the Justice League stuff alone. The closest I came to "discovering" the classic Giffen League initially back in the early 90s was the Doomsday issue. I would love to see a title starring an incarnation such as we see here; I find this League’s story more interesting at the moment than the ‘core’ version with its own title now.

The Origin of Booster Gold
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: Dan Jurgens
Inker: Andy Lanning
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Stephen Wacker

I’m still not terribly thrilled with these origin segments, but growing used to them (as opposed to the initial disappointment of the format), this one’s pretty good. The art’s quite good–I really like Jurgens‘ visuals–and I actually learned something from it. (I suppose that’s another dissatisfaction with other issues’ origins: when it’s a character whose background I’m already quite familiar with, seeing such a boiled-down version is disappointing).

I might’ve said it in an earlier review, but I’ll reiterate it now (and likely again in coming months): I think that while these make for an ok backup feature, I’d rather see a single "special" or one-shot that contained a bunch of these, and get a couple more story-pages per issue in their place.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

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