Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #2 (1994)

Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #2 (September, 1994)
“Crisis in Time, Part Three”
Story & Pencil Art – Dan Jurgens
Ink Art – Jerry Ordway
Letterer – Gaspar
Colorist – Gregory Wright
Assistant Editor – Mike McAvennie
Editor – KC Carlson
Cover Price: $1.50

We’re rapidly approaching zero, and we’re getting more and more white space on the cover, I wonder if that’s going to be a theme…

Two minutes have passed since the ending of last issue, which makes me wonder if the two Waveriders just spent the last 120 seconds staring and seething.  I hope so!  They eventually fight for a bit… with Alan Scott on the periphery.  It’s brief, as Extant-rider has a pressing engagement elsewhere in the timestream… speaking of elsewhere, he IS elsewhere… at the same time.  Stick with me here… it would appear that Extant (we’ll call him Extant-Prime) is watching a version of himself fight with Waverider.  After watching, Extant-Prime activates his “agents of destruction”, whoever they might be.

Two minutes later, back in New York the heroes watch as a city from the far-flung future begins to descend upon the city of the present.  They are all at a loss, however, Metron posits that his Mobius Chair may be of use.  And so, he opens a Boom Tube… while the heroes pummel it with force beams.  Captain Atom is called upon to create a “gravity well” to draw the future city into the star gate.  Badda-bing, badda-boom… the world is saved… for now.

With a few moments to regroup, the focus shifts to the re-aged members of the Justice Society of America.  Martian Manhunter and Amazing Man lift up a chunk of Earth under the old guard and prepare to fly them to a hospital.  At this point, Ted Knight, Alan Scott and Jay Garrick decide that, though they still live (and Alan still has his youth), they are done in the heroing game.  Alan expresses exhaustion… though he may appear young, he feels so old.  He hands his ring over to Kyle Rayner… now the only Green Lantern.

It’s restated that time is burning from both ends.  The remaining heroes decide to split up into three groups.  One group, will head to the 30th Century, one will head to the distant past, and the third will remain in the present.  Two hours and twenty-eight minutes later, we head to the future.  This team is being led by Superman, and they arrive just in time to meet the rift.  They also meet Extant’s agents of destruction… the Team Titans?

Forty-nine minutes later we check in with the immortal Dr. Mist… immortality ain’t all it’s cracked up to be when the universe is hit with an entropy wave, lemme tell ya what.  Five-minutes after that, we join Alan and Jay at the hospital where they are informed that Wildcat and Sandman should survive, however Mid-Nite didn’t make it.  Garrick is rather ticked off that this crisis is being ignored by their old teammate, and all around jerk-ass, the Spectre.  He intends to fix that.

Fifty minutes later (in the present), Power Girl appears to be going into labor… the baby is somehow able to protect her with a forcefield, as though it knew there was an attack on the horizon.  Thirteen minutes after that, Extant-Prime razzes the Linear Men a bit.

We next go back in time, one hour and fifty-seven minutes back… and we are in Earth’s distant past.  This crew, of mostly younger heroes like Nightwing, Superboy, and Kyle Rayner, is being led by Waverider.  They battle the rift, and Nightwing is pleased to see that reinforcements have arrived… in the form of the Team Titans.  Well, knowing what we know about the Teamsters (besides how lame they are), this ain’t a good deal for the good guys.

Not only are the Team Titans here… we’ve also got Extant!  He takes aim at Darkstar (Donna Troy) however, Kyle Rayner dives in front of the blast.  Waverider pops in to even up the odds, which leads to Extant unmasking… and, hey… it’s just Hank Hall!  Fearing the worst, Waverider sends the heroes back to the present.  Elsewhere, Extant-Prime looks on, and he appears to be pleased.  Hawk grabs Waverider and absorbs his energy… drawing it into himself… even taking the form of Waverider, facially.  It’s starting to become a bit more clear… kinda… I guess… anyone still with me?

The entropy wave wipes everything out, sans Extant… and… and… a mysterious figure in the foreground.  When Kyle Rayner became lost to entropy Alan Scott’s ring was left behind.  Our mystery man picks up the Golden-Age Green Lantern ring as Extant quantum leaps out.

One hour and fifty-seven minutes later, we return to the 30th Century.  The heroes have beaten the turned Team Titans, and have captured Mirage and Terra… the only two who, for better or worse, would be sticking around.  At Metron’s request, Superman hurls the Mobius Chair into the rift.  The heroes pour energy into the portal while Captain Atom does his mojo jojo… bada-bing, the rift is closed.

But now, how do these folks return home?  Well, I’m glad you asked… enter Rokk Krinn and the Time Trapper who’s all “no bigs”, and sends the crew back to the 20th century.  It only takes one minute for them to arrive, where they find their peers, led by Batman taking out the last of the turned Team Titans.  Guy Gardner decides he wants a gun… and so, his body produces one.  He says it’s painful… I say it’s gross.

At this point the Team Titans vanish… kind of the same way Vandal Savage did earlier.  It’s as though they never existed, because their timeline(s) have been erased.  Don’t think too hard about it… just be happy they’re gone.  Mirage and Terra survive, and it is suggested that they did so because they were in the timestream when things “corrected”… which is fair enough.  Gardner makes a mental note of this, and again considers the potential of this flexy-time… maybe the Corps can rise again.

At Vanishing Point we see the Extant from the Distant Past return and merge with Extant-Prime.  Now we know how and why he appeared to be Waverider.  We move ahead nine minutes, where our mystery man arrives in the 30th Century.  He’s disappointed that the heroes closed the rift… so, get this… he reopens it.  Please tell me the Team Titans don’t come back!  He then drops the Golden-Age Green Lantern ring to the ground… and stomps on it.  Is it becoming clearer who this guy is?  Would it help if I mentioned that when he “beamed in” he was illuminated in a green glow?

This is definitely one of those issues where I wish I had proper context the first time I was reading it.  Growing up so far removed from the Golden-Age (and DC Comics especially) the Flash and Green Lantern were only recognizable in their Hal and Barry/Wally versions.  This high-collared blonde Lantern and Flash with a hubcap-helmet were completely unknown to me.  That being said, their “retirements” here did precious little to move me way back when.  Reading this today, I have a better appreciation for the gravity of the situation.  Alan handing his ring over to Kyle is a momentous event… one that was completely lost on me the first go-round.  I see this as the big “beat” for this issue.  It’s an attempt to shift our focus from yesterday, with a mindfulness toward the present and future.

We’ve also got them horrendous Team Titans being “activated” to attack the heroes.  Fair enough, I always thought they were terrible.  I think this was a fine idea, as DC was doing away with the book as well as the characters, because really now, where are they gonna stick all of these geeks?  It’s been awhile since I fought my way through the Team Titans book, so I cannot say with any certainty if any hints were dropped throughout… if I were a betting man, I’d say “probably not”.  It would’ve been cool had there been a mention of the Titans being betrayed from within in the past… especially since one of the Teamsters bears the same name as their original Judas.

Time travel gets a bit nutty here.  We’ve got folks zipping too and fro, and hell… we even get Extant watching versions of himself throughout time.  I wish I could get back into my own head the first time I read this… I’m sure there was steam coming outta my ears by this point in the story.  Even reading it today, I gotta say… I was a bit lost.  Had to reread a few pages here, which is not an indictment on the story… more so my own density.

The ending (with our mysterious figure… whoever that might be) kind of, I dunno, undid the entire issue, right?  I mean, we’ve got the heroes struggling to close off the rift at the end of the timeline… and then, our mysterious figure tsk-tsks and opens it up again!  It’s done with so little ceremony too!  It’s just “Better open the rift again”.  Weird, and filler-y… gotta wonder if this was originally intended to be a four-part story before they decided to end it with a #0.

There isn’t all that much in the way of confirming comic shop scuttlebutt… outside of a thought balloon from the newly weaponized Guy Gardner in relation to bringing back the Corps.

We’ve got two (or three, if you like) deaths here, including Dr. Mist, Dr. Mid-Nite, and apparently Waverider.  Dr. Mist has only been in cameo bits here, which I’m not sure merited mention.  He’s an immortal, however, entropy is without prejudice.  Mid-Nite is a JSA casualty, which isn’t much of a surprise… the “old guard” were little more than cannon fodder here.  Waverider… is a weird one.  Being an entity who can zip through time, ya gotta figure he’s still out there somewhere… especially as earlier we saw Waverider and Matthew Ryder in the same panel, right?

Another good, if not filler-y, chapter of Zero Hour.  Definitely not the one to start with if you’re interested in checking this story out.  We’re rapidly approaching zero… hope everyone is enjoying our trip through time.

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