Friday, February 10, 2017

Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #0 (1994)


Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #0
"Crisis in Time, Part Five"
Story & Layout Art - Dan Jurgens
Ink Art - Jerry Ordway
Letters - Gaspar
Colors - Gregory Wright
Assistant Editor - Mike McAvennie
Editor - KC Carlson
Cover Price: $1.50

Well, that's what I call a white cover.  I actually had to use an image online for this piece... as my own copy of Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #0 is about as yellowed as my old Super Nintendo.  Okay, maybe not that bad.

Today's piece is going to be a bit more image-intense than usual.  In addition to covering the issue in question, and engaging in our usual discussion... I'm also including a few pieces of Zero Hour-related ephemera.  Wayyy down below I'm going to post the post-Zero Hour DC Universe timeline, and a few images from a "Top Secret" comic shop freebie. Below that will be the entirety of a Zero Month hype piece to prepare us for the unknown future into which we've been thrust.

I hope folks dug revisiting this event as much as I have.

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We open in the endless white of entropic space.  Suddenly, a voice.  Hal Jordan discusses where he's been up to this point... at one time an "errand boy", another a "God".  He has taken it upon himself to remake the universe... or multiverse the way he sees fit.  Calling forth Extant, Triumph, Warrior, Batgirl and the Alpha Centurion, he prepares to start things anew.  The time-displaced characters appear to be a bit more receptive to Hal's plan... though Gardner ain't convinced.



Of interest... instead of simply silencing Gardner, Hal proceeds to attempt to "sell" him on his designs.  He claims to be able to create life.  He shares the story of how he discovered the flexibility of the timestream, and even calls back to when they fought the Anti-Monitor during the original Crisis.  Psst... hey Hal, you (sorta famously) weren't part of that story... remember?



Meanwhile at Vanishing Point, Waverider, Superman and the rest are licking their wounds and trying to formulate a plan of their own.  Of particular interest, the young hero Damage is present.  Yeah, kid... I'm as surprised as you are!  Ollie is there as well, and is as dour as ever.



Waverider holds court, and shares his intentions.  If Parallax plans to recreate the universe, then by golly, they should plan to do the same themselves!  It is pretty clear that the people present are vital in the success of this endeavor... they include quite a few heavy-hitters as it pertains to energy blasting prowess.



Back with Hal... he continues his sales pitch.  It's pretty clear that heroes who, if things went back to "normal" were to no longer exist as really buying in.  Batgirl and Alpha Centurion, who at this point, really just want to "be", appear cool with letting Parallax do his thang.



Before he can act, however, the Vanishing Point gang hits the scene.  Hal is playing some heavy defense, though is clearly outnumbered.  Extant appeals to the time-lost heroes... and Batgirl and Alpha Centurion immediately sign on.  Triumph is conflicted... and doesn't act.



Hal is able to fight himself free... and is still quite confused that his former peers would stand against him.  After all, he has everyone's best interest at heart.  He offers Superman a Krypton that never went boom... Captain Atom a life without "missing years"... in short, he offers each individual hero their own personal paradise.  The good guys don't get a chance to think about it because... here comes the Spectre!



Parallax turns his complete attention toward the Spectre, which gives the heroes a bit of a reprieve... and an opportunity to collect themselves.  We've got Superman fighting the Centurion, and Ollie getting tackled by Babs.  Spectre seeks vengeance for the many deaths caused by Hal... which is another thing Hal doesn't understand.  He claims that everyone who perished will live again... in his new multiverse.  Oh, and then he kills Hawkman.



Ollie and Batgirl are off to the side... with Arrow trying to talk some sense into Babs.  Batgirl is adamant that salvation lay in Parallax's new world.  Ollie posits that it's not Hal's choice.  The world and universe are bigger than just one man... even one he once considered a "brother".



At the same time, Hal and the Spectre are still pummeling one another with blasts.  Kyle Rayner gets involved to further distract the 'Lax.  Darkstar, the Ray, and Captain Atom are absorbing the residual energies.  Then, along with Superman's own heat-vision, they fire at Waverider... who, in turn channels it into Damage.



Hal's no fool... he knows what Waverider's plan is.  He has no choice but to kill Damage before he has the opportunity to go mega-blast.  He shakes free from Kyle's full-nelson, and takes aim.  As he fires, Batgirl dives in the path of the blast... sacrificing herself so that Damage can fulfill his destiny.



Green Arrow, who has... I dunno, kind of inexplicably bonded with Babs... catches her smoldering body.  Hal shakes it off... after all, in his new reality, Barbara Gordon will live again.  It's here where we get, perhaps the defining face-off of this entire event, the Hard-Travelling Heroes... explode!



Kyle jumps in again with yet another full-nelson, and Ollie lets fly an arrow... right into Hal's heart.  The Spectre calls "ballgame", Damage goes boom... Time begins again.



All around the heroes, time fills itself in... we travel from era to era.  In order to stop Parallax's Zero Hour plot from reoccurring, Waverider merges the moment in which Hal took the arrow to the heart with the exact moment before he wiped out the timeline.



The heroes are able to return to present, albeit with a few changes.  Guy Gardner is no longer wearing his gaudy armor, and is instead in full tattooed Warrior garb.  Batman has returned to life too... whew, I was really nervous about that... ahem.  Waverider breaks the news that the current generation's Flash and Green Lantern, Wally and Kyle, appear to both still be dead.  Jay Garrick ain't too pleased to hear that noise... and makes some comments about death.  As if on cue, Power Girl emerges holding her brand new bouncing baby boy.



Green Arrow then breaks away from the group.  He heads toward a monument... and smashes his bow against the wall.  I guess being forced to kill your best pal might just mess with your head.  Then again, if Ollie's proven anything here, he's kind of a fan of the dramatic outburst.



We wrap up with a closing shot of a reborn Time Trapper.



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Welp, that's that.

Now, where to start?  I guess we can start with the "big bang".  I thought this was a pretty neat use of Damage's power... it really sets the kid up to be a "big time" player in the DC Universe moving forward.  Of course, cruel hindsight tells us that's not necessarily in the cards.  Sadly, for many... his "defining" story (for better or worse) is still a few years away.  Not sure how one would write such a destructively-powerful character... at least for the long-term.  I feel that would be quite the challenge.

Let's talk about the time-displaced heroes for a bit.  I think their being conflicted about which side is right was some masterful storytelling.  Because, really... is Hal completely in the wrong here?  Ehh, we'll get to that.  Back to Batgirl and the Alpha Centurion for a moment.  There is a lot of unspoken ethical gymnastics going on here.  Is one's own life worth re-imagining the entire universe?  For some, that's an easy "yes" or "no", however, I believe for most of us... if we lived in such a universe wherein such possibilities actually existed... it may take a few moments of pondering.

Of the spoken bits... Batgirl just says that she wants to live.  She simply wants to "be".  Of course, she eventually comes around and renders the entire thing moot by sacrificing herself for Boom-Boy... but for a moment, she was completely on Parallax's side.  It's great use of her character to see things in less black and white terms.  The universe, to a character like her, is extremely unfair.  I mean, she doesn't have a place here... until one man offers her one.  It's a toughie...

Now she does get a talking to by... Green Arrow, who I gotta figure has the middle name of "drama" for this story.  I'm not really sure how or why he and Babs bonded so quickly... why he took her death so hard.  I mean, he's just seen everyone he's ever known "entropied"... but, it's Batgirl that seems to hit him hardest.

His display at the end of the story... eh, I suppose it makes sense.  Ollie's a hot-head, and is often a victim to his own emotions.  Him smashing his bow in light of killing Hal works.  I just think, by then, I was so tired of his preciousness that it kind of lessened the impact of the act.

I always kind of glaze over when the Spectre gets involved with a story.  It's kind of like when the Watcher shows up in Marvel books... if it warrants their attention, it makes things "seem" important.  This isn't much different... at least to me.  The Spectre shows up... and does his thing.  Yawn.  I think I'd have preferred it if the heroes outsmarted him... or even maybe overpowered him on their own.  I get why he was here though...

Now, let's discuss Hal Jordan.  The "villain" of the piece... but is he really all that bad?  I mean, clearly, he's abusing his power... but, is he acting in a particularly evil way?  Selfish... impulsive, perhaps... but evil?  I'm not sure I can say.  All he wanted to do was provide paradise... and not even as he defined it.  He was offering very specific parameters for the multiverse which would be enjoyable for his former friends... is that a bad thing?

They say the best villains don't see themselves as that.  Just in showing his surprise at the resistance to his ends, the story really illustrates that he feels what he is doing is righteous... altruistic, even!  This characterization is perhaps the finest part of this story... even though Hal only appears toward the end.

For a lot of this "analysis" I'm playing devil's advocate... because this story was crafted in such a way as to allow it.  Hal has his own goals here, that much is clear... this is an extension of his abuse of power during Emerald Twilight... but, he's also interested in "spreading the wealth" in a way.  It's a bit of a shame that Batman wasn't part of the final battle... I think it would be interesting if Hal were to offer him a world in which Thomas and Martha Wayne weren't murdered.  That would've been a great scene.

Overall... I give this a high recommendation, though would not necessarily say it is "must reading".  It's good-to-great, a far brisker read than I remember, and leaves me more-or-less satisfied.  If you owned this trade paperback in a vacuum, I can't say for certain you would feel the same way.  I'd say give it a shot if you haven't already.  The individual issues are found quite easily in the cheap-o bin... you might just be able to get the whole shebang for a buck and a quarter!

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Top Secret:

One of the promotional pieces for Zero Hour was a "Top Secret" comic shop giveaway.  It showed some images from this very issue, however, with the important and "spoilery" bits redacted.  A very fun piece of DC ephemera... one of the reasons I'm glad to be such a terrible pack-rat.







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The New DC Timeline:




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A Look Ahead:

And another promotional freebie is the Zero Month Sampler.  I was going to save this for it's own piece, but figured "what the hey"... I'll just add it here.  This gives a prospective post-Zero Hour jumper-on a decent idea of what books they may be interested in sampling.







 

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Interesting Ads: (the only Sept.'94 ones I haven't used yet!)


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