Hello my friends, Alvaro/Lance here with a new blogpost! As you may know by now on Tuesdays I alternate posts between my introspective “Book of Danger”, my nostalgic “A Look Back At…”, and the “Let’s Talk About…” that concerns more up to date news/topics on what’s happening in comics. Well, this one here is something I like to call “Old School Comics”! And since this was a return to Zero Month over at DC, why not look at that old school Zero Month that was kicked off by “Zero Hour: A Crisis In Time”, by Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway?
The story kicked off in Dc Comics anthology series “Showcase ‘94” #8 and 9 which was the prelude to the story, which was supposed to actually be a direct sequel to the 80’s monster hit “Crisis on Infinite Earthes” (hence the “Crisis in Time” tagline) and is also connected to Armageddon 2001 that had come out in the early 90s. An anomaly was detected in the timestream and Waverider along with a Linear Man who guard the timestream to check it out. It turns out that anomaly was Monarch from the “Armageddon 2001” mini-series. But his powers evolved him into a different character named Extant. He soon steals Waverider’s armbands so he can have absolute control over being able to properly move around through time, and that’s how things got started.
The curious thing about this, is that the series was actually numbered like a countdown rather than coming out traditionally, so the mini actually began with issue #4 and counted down to issue #0. That month when issue #4 came out there had been like I don’t know, a million other tie-ins from regular DC books at the time (it was the boom of the 90s, Marvel and DC had an obscene amount of titles back then). Characters that were dead suddenly reappeared, alternate versions as well, like a Barbara Gordon who was never shot by the Joker. Flash (Wally West) apparently dies trying to help reverse the effects of the world starting to “vanish” as Waverider tries to recruit more heroes to take on Extant.
In issue #3 more heroes band together as the timestream keeps getting crazier while the Justice Society grieves Wally West. Then Extant turns up and proceeds to pretty much pummel the JS killing a couple of them in the act when he starts to make time catch up to them, because the JS were under a time spell that kept let them have their youthful appearance despite being several years older, killing a couple of members in the process. The big reveal at the end though, is when confronted with Waverider, Extant takes his mask of to reveal…he’s Waverider!? I know. It only gets more confusing.
In issue #2, more heroes gather and mourn the JS, as the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, who used up the power in his ring, decides to just plain give up along with the original Flash Jay Garrick. Then Jay decides their only hope might be The Specter. While that is happening a pregnant Powergirl is about to enter labor as the group of heros is attacked by a younger version of Extant who’s now controlling the minds of the Team Titans, a group that spun-off the Teen Titans. They subdue the Team Titans but Extant manages to merge with Waverider. The end comes when the younger version of Extant that just merged with Waveridewr goes to talk to his older self that appears in the previous issue, and in turn they end up merging together. I told you it only got more confusing! Also in the last page, a cryptic shadow holds Alan Scott’s old ring and destroys it…hmmm…
In issue #1 is where it all goes down! Much of this issue is really a consequence to the tie-ins in the other regular series in DC, so you can get a little bit lost at the start. Most of the world is being destroyed as heroes fall. As this is happening we see that Extant was only a puppet and we only see the silhouette of who really is responsible for all this. Meanwhile Powergirl is about to give birth as the heroes try their best to keep order in the city, when suddenly characters from the future like Booster Gold and Impulse just vanish, implying their timeline has been wiped out. Jay tried to get The Specter involved but he wants nothing to do with it at first but as Jay dies he decides to take a stand. In the hospital, the original Starman gives up his power rod to one of his son’s to continue the tradition, as the 30th century gets wiped out alomg with the Legion of Super Heroes and Legionnaires. Extant returns to the present just in time to watch Batman die, when a younger version of Waverider appears to help the heroes! And just when Superman was about to take out Extant and end this, Supes gets knocked out…..by Hal Jordan/Parallax!!!! And that is how this issue ends….
Issue #0, the final one, begins with Hal Jordan, who has practically become a God and can create existence with his powers. For those who don’t know, Hal Jordan/Green Lantern during the 90s became a villain after the “Death of Superman” story, where his city was destroyed, after seeking help from the guardians he killed them all except one (Ganthet I believe) and then went on to kill pretty much all the Green Lantern Corps to steal their rings so he himself could resurrect Coast City, which is also the introduction story for Kyle Rayner who for quite a few years was the sole Green Lantern. Basically, Hal Jordan just wanted to recreate the universe in a way where there wouldn’t be any death and suffering and such. After some of that explanation it seems like Parallax and Extant are about to take every one out, when The Specter finally appears and lays it down on Parallax! As the fight wages on Waveriders with the aid of other heroes try to recreate a big boom to set the universe straight again. When Parallax is about to kill a character named Damage who was going to be used to kick-start this big boom, the alternate timeline Batgirl jumps in and sacrifices her life to save him. Green Arrow, who was Jordan’s best friend when he was a hero, enraged by the death of this Batgirl drives an arrow through Hal’s heart, killing him (though he would appear again…and then again…then die again…and then come back…you get the picture…) as the big boom happens. The universe sets itself straight, many of the heroes like Batman that had died returned and Powergirl finally gives birth, in a bitter sweet (though a bit more bitter than sweet) ending where Arrow grieves the death of his former best friend by his own hands and the Linear Men are left to see what were the repercussion of this while crisis in time. And thus, the original Zero Month was born, where each 0 issue retold the origins of the heroes with some modifications.
This story was a bit…confusing, and it didn’t help that so many other comics tied into it as well. It was convoluted, confusing (I know I’ve used that word a couple of times, but it’s really the only word I can come up with to properly describe this mini) and had quite a few plot holes. But man was it fun! I re-read the original issues the other day, and it actually holds up pretty well today. And the final issue has an awesome pullout where you can see the events of the new timeline. So, even though it wasn’t perfect by any stretch and in a way was in the shadow of such a revolutionary story like “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, if you have a chance, check it out on trade or the single issues if you find them in conventions. There are moments in this story that genuinely pulls you in to the story and even though there is a huge cast of characters, you do manage to feel for some of them like the alternate Batgirl. So if you have a chance, give it a read, and speaking of which, thank you for reading, until next time, stay safe everyone!
~Alvaro Cortes Ortiz Jr