Hourman #1 (April, 1999)
“Through the Hourglass”
Writer – Tom Peyer
Penciller – Rags Morales
Inker – David Meikis
Colorist – John Kalisz
Separations – Digital Chameleon
Letterer – Kurt Hathaway
Editor – Tony Bedard
Thanks – Grant Morrison, Mark Waid & Dan Raspler
Cover Price: $2.50
Today we’re going to discuss a book that went completely under my radar when it first came out… however, has intrigued me ever since!
Unfortunately it’s not a series that I come across all that often “in the wild”… and whenever I do, it’s never the first (or first few) issues.
Yesterday… St. Patrick’s Day… I guess I had a little of the Luck of the Irish when I ventured down to a local shop, and plopped my happy self in front of their discount bins… because lo and behold… I found myself a grip of Hourman.
And today… we’re going to finally “meet” him.
We open with an introduction to our new Hourman from the 83rd Century… with some narration from… well, that’d be telling. We jump to the JLA Watchtower where Hourman is pleading with the team to allow them to jump ahead 20 minutes. The rest of the team hasn’t the foggiest idea what he’s going on about. He claims that there will be much awkwardness afoot over the next half hour or so, and he’d prefer to skip it altogether. He spoils who’s going to win a will-construct video game between Wally and Kyle… and then infers that Kyle will eventually make a… sorta-kinda, but not really sexist comment. This annoys Huntress who berates Kyle as though he’d actually said anything at all. It’s really much funnier than I’m explaining it to be!
Hourman’s even more confused at this point… not grasping how dangerous his knowledge of the future might be to those around him… but he goes on anyway. He claims that Flash will make a remark about Hourman’s need to socialize… and so, he wishes to go speak with the JLA’s resident authority on… dating. You’re gonna love this.
The League hops to and heads out to chat up… Batman. Unfortunately, he is currently preoccupied… he’s dealing with the Mad-Hatter… and at the moment, his head is stuck in a guillotine. Hourman swoops in, ages the wooden guillotine to the point where it turns to dust… and de-ages the Hatter and his gang. Batman isn’t pleased.
Batman insists he re-age the Hatter crew… and attempts to instill in Hourman that precognizance is not the same thing as actual experience. With that, Hourman decides to “absorb” the entire history of the Justice League of America.
Now, knowing exactly what he must do, Hourman takes off. The League follows him to the Mad Yax Cafe in Happy Harbor, where we meet our
obnoxious mysterious narrator… Snapper Carr!
Snapper greets Hourman, or “Tyler” as he calls him… and the pair leave to meet up with a woman named Bethany. The rest of the League remains, kinda dumbfounded… just staring at one another wondering if they ought to follow. Zauriel suggests in Snapper, Hourman might’ve just found his “Guardian Angel”.
On the walk to Snapper’s pad, Carr tells Hourman everything he knows about him. He’s from the year 85,721… and his Miraclo Geneware is a dupe of Rex “Tick Tock” Tyler’s DNA… hence why he’s calling him “Tyler”. Hourman attempts to return the favor by telling Snapper everything he knows about him. Snapper responds to each guess with a “Bzzzt!”. Snapper’s house, by the way, is a dump.
Inside, Snap heads over to a corner of his disgusting living room (right next to the cinder-block bookcase) and fetches a thumbdrive… were those around in 1999? If not, this book might actually be prescient! Anyhoo, Hourman gets one sniff of it and says it “smells like… ten years.”. Y’ever look back at pictures from the 1970’s or something… and think, “Man that decade must’ve smelled bad!”… I wonder if that’s what Hourman means here.
What it actually is is… a little piece of the Android Adam… the first android ever created… the Mighty Amazo! If I ever get around to building an android… I bet most of the time I’d be working on giving it the perfect Widow’s Peak.
Anyhoo, Hourman… though annoyed that Snapper swiped this little bit from the JLA trophy room… really wants to chat up the first of his kind, and so… he summons him! Amazo instantly recognizes Snapper for the irritating little tool that he is, and lashes out.
Hourman responds by sending Amazo “back”. Moments later, there’s a great explosion… and Amazo has returned! This time, however, with one-half of Hourman’s own (infinite) power! I can’t claim to understand any of this… but it’s pretty cool nonetheless!
At that moment, Bethany arrives at Snapper’s (who I really want to call “Rick Jones” every single time I type it) hovel. She winds up getting blasted by an errant time-shot… thing, and is de-aged into a tiny tot.
Back inside, Hourman splits into various Hourmen of the past and future… I think. Amazo responds by building his own army of Amazos (or Timazos) from throughout time. Again, I don’t understand it… but it makes for a great visual.
Hourman claims to have made preparations for something like this and proceeds to count down from five. At zero, Amazo… disappears. Hourman reveals to Snapper that in order to “do away” with the disparate Amazos, he had to reknit time… changing the future to affect the past… I think. At this point, Hourman realizes that Batman was right… there is a difference between power and experience. He wonders what to do about his omnipotence… to which Snapper suggests he “chuck” it.
And so, Hourman does just that.
We wrap up with Hourman passed out on Snapper’s bed (I swear I typed “Rick” again)… while Bethan-ita plays in traffic.
This was… a blast!
Definitely had more fun than I expected from this issue… I really didn’t know what to expect going in. As mentioned above, this is a character I have almost no knowledge of… he seemed to fly just under my radar back in the day, and didn’t “rank” high enough for be to drop two-dollars and two-quarters on every month. Looking back at some of the absolute garbage I paid that much (and more) for back then really compounds what a sin that was.
I mentioned that I kept wanting to refer to Snapper as “Rick” during the synopsis… that reason is twofold… first, I mean… duh, Rick Jones and Snapper Carr aren’t terribly different… and second, I’m getting very strong Captain Marvel (the Peter David run) vibes from this. It’s equally humorous, and the hero-dynamic feels quite similar.
I was afraid there would be a lot of Hourman backstory from DC One Million that I’d have to have a “working knowledge” of before popping in here… and though, it might’ve helped a bit, it certainly wasn’t a requirement. It’s been… yikes, twenty years since I read DC1M… can’t remember a lick of it!
What we have here is a proper introduction to the character… his inexperience and naivete are the focus… and by the end, he has a newfound motivation to gain the experience to match his former omnipotence. The series is given a “hero’s journey” kinda format… and for a character such as this, it’s a really cool idea. He’s discovering the “present” while at the same time learning more about himself. Can’t give that a big enough “thumbs up”.
Another thing I wasn’t expecting… this book is funny. It’s not often I chuckle (or even smirk) when reading a comic… but that bit at the beginning where Huntress is haranguing Kyle for a sexist remark he hadn’t yet made? Very funny! Also, Batman as the League’s “Resident Expert of Dating”? C’mon… that’s just great!
The “time powers” he wields… are a bit confusing to me… though, that might be intentional. I really can’t claim to follow much of what went down during the Amazo/Timazo fight… but again, I think (hope?) it was written that way to illustrate how truly powerful Hourman is… just how incomprehensible his powers are to us normies. Messing around with time is never something I’m able to wrap my noggin ’round anyway… so maybe it’s just me!
The art here is fantastic. It’s been awhile since I’d seen turn-of-the-century Rags… but, it’s pretty great! Also love the Scott McDaniel cover… it gives the character a “chunky” feel… almost like an action figure. Really dig it!
Overall… if I haven’t made it obvious, this book gets a high recommendation. I can’t (yet) speak for the rest of the series… however, if it’s half as fun as this issue, I think we’re in for a good time! Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this series has made it’s way to DC Digital yet. Worth the hunt!
The Making of Hourman:
A Wizard Magazine Free-Insert which shows preliminary sketches for Hourman… his costume… his mask… and his cast! Check out the ridiculous Snapper Carr!