Thursday, February 9, 2017

Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #1 (1994)


Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #1 (September, 1994)
"Crisis in Time, Part Four"
Story and Art - Dan Jurgens
Finished Art - Jerry Ordway
Letters - Gaspar
Colors - Gregory Wright
Assistant Editor - Mike McAvennie
Editor - KC Carlson
Cover Price: $1.50

Hey, that's a lot more white on the cover, no?  Wonder how they'll top this...

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Five Hours and forty-seven minutes after the events that closed out the previous issue we pick up with the quartet of Guy Gardner, Steel, Supergirl and Batgirl.  This is following the events of Guy Gardner: Warrior #0, where the gang ran into Guy's old flame (who Hal tried to snag while Mr. Gardner was in a coma), Kari Limbo.  They find themselves in the midst of entropy fissures... one of which, Steel gets pulled into.  Elsewhere/elsewhen, Extant is looking on in surprise... these fissures aren't his doing.  Well, no... they ain't.  The new boss blasts Extant with some very green energy, lambasting his "underling" for going about things the "wrong" way.  It is his goal to set things "right" again.



Fourteen minutes later we catch up with the Legion and the Time Trapper.  The Legionnaires have the somber understanding that it is up to them to make the ultimate sacrifice.  They fade into the entropy... and the Time Trapper is once again blasted, however, this time the beam is... well, very green.



Five minutes later Power Girl is about to pop.  Wonder Woman has assumed the responsibility of attempting to deliver the child, and sends Captain Atom (who was just trying to help...) away.  It would appear that her patience is running pretty thin at this point.  Here is where some of our time-displaced heroes begin to fade away.  Impulse and Booster Gold vanish... their respective eras are no more.



Thirteen minutes later, Jay Garrick is running through the ten-percent of Gotham City that still exists.  He is pleased to find that the Justice Society headquarters is among the buildings that still stand.  Inside, he is greeted by... the Spectre.  Jay is rightly ticked off at Corrigan dragging his feet... and gives him the what-for.  The Spectre agrees to intervene... and promises to avenge Jay's death.  Jay's death?  Yup, welcome to the entropy, pal.



Eleven minutes later, we check back in on New York.  This is a weird series of panels.  Batman tells Guy Gardner to "shut up", and Wonder Woman yells at Aquaman to "get to a doctor" to get his bloody arm-stump looked at.  I mean, can Arthur check himself in to a hospital at this point?  Hasn't that train left the station?  Gotta wonder if Aquaman's just standing there, muttering about his lost hand under his breath... annoying his peers who are, ya know... just trying to save all time and existence.  Ehh, who knows.  Anyhoo, Metron produces a Mother Box and suggests the heroes head to Vanishing Point.



And so, five minutes later... Metron, along with Superman, Darkstar, Green Lantern, and the Atom arrive at the end of time.  Metron sets to waking Linear Man, Matthew Ryder... ya know, Waverider, while Superman and Kyle head out to fetch a time-probe that Vril Dox sent out earlier in the series.



Ten minutes later we rejoin the surviving members of the Justice Society at the hospital.  It is here that we meet Ted Knight's two sons, Jack and David.  Ted hands over the mantle of Starman to David... much to Jack's relief.  Just you wait, pal.



One minute later, Extant slaughters some folks at the Chamber of the Leymen.  Then five-minutes and twenty-six seconds later we return to the heroes of New York as they try to steer the panicked populace into the subway, and away from the multiple fissures.  Extant arrives to taunt them just as a fissure opens right where Batman stood.  Uh oh.



The rest of the heroes start piling on ol' Extant... including, much to his surprise, the reborn Waverider!  The Atom attempts to do the old "climbing into a bad guy's ear" trick... only to find that Extant is composed of "pure, chronal energy".  This causes the Atom's physiology to change... moments later, he is reduced to about 18-years old.  What a titanic thing to occur to this teen?



Superman sees this as an opportunity to get the jump on Extant, however, before he can... he is struck by a powerful right hand.  The heroes are shocked.



With one minute to go, our villain is finally revealed.  It is Hal Jordan... former Green Lantern, current... Parallax.



He gleefully informs his former peers that the universe, long out of whack, is about to be set right... and there's not a damn thing they can do about it.  The time is come... well, make that, time is over.  The universe fades to white as Hal walks into the entropy.  The universe will be remade... and, hell... maybe there's room for more than one.



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A whole lotta stuff happens here... the overall theme of this issue, and perhaps the series up to this point, is entropy (in DC terms).  People, places, and things are all victimized by the endless white... in this chapter alone we lost well over a dozen heroes to it.  We'll comment on a few in a bit.

For the story, I was a bit annoyed that we were dropped in with Guy Gardner and the gang, without even a footnote as to where they came from.  I mean, we can assume they last appeared in Guy's book... or Steel's book... or a Super or Bat book... but, a footnote would've made things a bit easier.  Perhaps a silly thing to complain about a hundred years later, but it did bug me a tad.

Some of the dialogue... especially on that page I mentioned during the synopsis... just a bit weird, right?  I get that Gardner's kind of a putz, so I can allow him referring to Batman as "Bat-brain"... it's just the way he is.  Batman snapping at him to shut up felt a bit much.  Also, poor one-handed Aquaman... I'd expect more from Wonder Woman than to simply dismiss him.  I guess given the circumstances, folks are a bit on edge.  Maybe I'm just picking nits to buy myself some time before we talk about... him.

Well, it's about time you showed up Hal...

Even though I was only following this peripherally at the time, this was still a pretty huge deal around the shop.  When Hal turned at the end of Emerald Twilight, he almost ascended into becoming a God-like figure... every time he became "involved" in a story, it was pretty Earth shattering.  There's that old saying that we can't miss someone that refuses to go away... but Hal?  Hal's different.  His appearance lends a tremendous amount of gravity to a given situation... at least in my view.

For the scene in question... the first time I actually read this I was a pretty big mark for Hal.  I thought it was pretty dang cool that he could knock Superman off his feet with a single punch... albeit a cheap shot... still thought it was neat.  His dismissal of his former peers was pretty neat too.  I've seen it mentioned that he's gone mad with power... which, I'm not sure I agree with.  There's a thought that any behavior that is goal-oriented is, at least theoretically speaking, rational.  Hal is undeniably working toward an ultimate goal here... and it's not entirely self-serving.

He, in essence, sells his plan to the heroes.  He sees the universe as being flawed.  Flawed in ways that he can fix... this will be explored deeper next issue, and we will discuss it much deeper then too... however, I feel it's worth mentioning that Hal really and truly appears to believe he is working in everyone's best interests.  We can go into whether villains ever think they're "in the wrong" or "evil"... but that's probably another conversation for tomorrow.

I did find it strange that Ollie referred to his former best friend as "Green Lantern" rather than Hal.  Seems a bit too formal, right?  Especially for a dude like Ollie!

The end here was pretty inspired.  Such good use of white space... though, if I were to pick nits... and that's one'a the things I do, I would have placed the Zero Hour logo-button-thingie on the bottom of the completely blank page.  I feel this would have given the two-page spread a bit of continuity... and not make it seem like they just added a blank page after the story ended.  The idea here is pretty great though.

Let's pick up on the folks we seemingly lost here.  Early on, we lost Steel.  In the far-flung future we lost Legion-folk Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, and the Time Trapper.  In the present we lost our time-displaced pals, Booster Gold and Impulse.  Also in the present, we lost our Golden Agers... Flash, Wildcat, Green Lantern, Starman (along with Jack and David Knight).  Extant killed the Leymen... whoever they are.  Finally, we lost Batman.

I thought it was great to take out Booster and Impulse the way they did.  I still question how the heroes can remember folks who, for all intents and purposes, never existed.  I'm probably thinking too hard... but with "forgotten" characters like Triumph introduced during this story, this feels a bit like it's playing fast and loose.

The poor Knight brothers kick it on their very first day!  Gotta wonder if that might be a trend for, er, one of them.  The Legion folk have always confused me... losing them doesn't really affect me all that much.  It feels like they get rebooted or limbo'd a bit too often for me to become engaged.  We briefly touched on losing JSA members last issue, this was a table-clearing measure... at least one would assume.

That is, of course, until they "killed" Batman.  I think up until now, we might think that some of these characters were "dead" or at least "on the shelf".  When you take out Batman, however... that's when we know these deaths ain't gonna stick.

Overall, still enjoying my time with this epic event.  If you're interested in checking it out... definitely do not start with this issue.  Even though it's a "#1", this ain't where you wanna come in.  We'll wrap this bugger up tomorrow... hope folks have been enjoying!

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(Not the) Letters Page:



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1 comment:

  1. I actually thought the Batman/Guy exchange was 100% accurate for their relationship. Batman, especially under such stress, would absolutely tell him to shut up. You have to remember how antagonistic they always have been toward one another.

    Also, I didn't read that Wonder Woman line as dismissive -- I think she genuinely wanted Arthur to find a doctor.

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