Sunday, April 20, 2014

Zero Hour #0

Story and Layout Art • Dan Jurgens
Ink Art • Jerry Ordway
Letters • Gaspar
Colors • Gregory Wright
Asst. Editor • Mike McAvennie
Editor • KC Carlson

This is one of my favorite covers of all time. It's not one of those blank variants you see nowadays to get artists to sketch on at cons. This is an intentionally blank cover to go with the story of Parallax destroying the universe and leaving nothing but empty whiteness behind. And the cover looks even better in print — the letters are all a shiny silver. Unfortunately the digital edition just made them a basic black.

I also have to compliment Jurgens, Ordway, Gaspar and Wright. They, and they alone, put out five issues in five weeks. And these were full-length, 24-page issues. And not one of them needed extra guest pencillers, inkers or colorists. This would be unheard of today. I guess that today's comics are a bit more technical, but how much so? If these guys could produce something so great so quickly, why can't more people do the same nowadays?

So last issue ended with the complete and utter destruction of all things. But luckily, a millisecond before Parallax destroyed space and time, Waverider was able to save a handful of heroes and pull them out to Vanishing Point. Three of those heroes will join Impulse in New Titans: Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Darkstar Donna Troy and a 16-year-old boy named Damage, who has the ability to produce and expend enormous amounts of energy, or in other words, explode.

Waverider takes all the heroes to Parallax, who tries to explain to them that what he's doing is good. He's creating a new universe free of misery, with multiple worlds so everyone can live and get everything they want. But none of our heroes like the idea of Parallax setting himself up as a god, so they fight him. The all-powerful Spectre appears, and helps defeat Parallax. All the heroes then blast their energy through Waverider and into Damage, who then erupts with an explosion so large it re-creates the Big Bang.

They let time unfold naturally, and everything happens just like they remember it — except for a few subtle and specific differences. Everybody who was killed by a fissure — including Impulse and Batman — are back, but anybody killed by other means is still dead. As for Impulse, everything is back to normal. He's still in 1994 with his grandma, although his cousin, the Flash, is still missing. In the meantime, Impulse is going to offer his services to the New Titans.

The back cover of this issue is a pretty cool fold-out timeline covering every major aspect of the DC Universe. This is a good way to officially show what has changed and what has stayed the same after this crisis. Unfortunately, Impulse is not included on the timeline, but there is very little information on the future here.

So that's it for 1994's big event, Zero Hour. It was really fun to see everybody together, and all the characters were drawn very well. There were a few slow moments of everybody standing around scratching their heads, and a couple of "fights" thrown in there for the sake of some action. I did like the general plot of this story, but I think the character Extant was superfluous. He only served to delay the reveal of Parallax, which I didn't think was necessary. And although the disaster in this story was as huge and epic as it could possibly be, I think it was kind of watered down by the lack of major ramifications that followed.

Next time, we move into October 1994, which was DC's first Zero Month. Every series went back down to #0 to tell their new origin story, or retell their existing origin story for any new readers brought in with the Zero Hour hype. Impulse doesn't appear inside Flash #0, but he is on the cover, and I do think it's important to find out what happened to the Flash, so I'll give it a brief review.

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