The Crisis on Infinite Earths may have ended, but the repercussions of it certainly didn’t. We will discuss one of those instances on this episode as we head into the Dan Jurgens penned and illustrated Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! Join Allan and Josh in the Hypertime for part 1 of 2 episodes on the 1994 DC Comics event!
Also, don’t forget to check out our bonus episode from March featuring writer/artist of Zero Hour, Dan Jurgens! We discuss more about the event there too!
Now on to the show notes:
While Crisis on Infinite Earths set out to streamline the continuity of DC Comics in 1985, there were problems that would arise less than ten years later. Most of it came down to the aging of characters. For instance, characters like Hal Jordan were showing their age physically (hair) while Oliver Queen was given a specific age in recognizing his birthday (mid forties). On top of that, you had Justice Society characters who were in World War II still kicking, and now you have a timeline issue and where the heroes existed within those periods.
Dan Jurgens took it upon himself to try and fix this. He had started running into problems with specific flashbacks he wanted to do, but not knowing (or being told) something wasn’t canon.
- Dan Jurgens considers Hawkman the biggest challenge in “fixing”. Up until then, his backstory was convoluted and needed more streamlining (Egyptian God, Thanagarian, etc). To Dan Jurgens, if it takes more than a sentence to explain a character’s backstory, it’s too problematic. Part of this came about when Jurgens was writing Superman. Shortly after Byrne revamped Superman, there was an issue (Superman #18) where Hawkman took Superman to the remnants of the destroyed Krypton. Then in Action Comics #650, they wanted a flashback to that scene…but the Hawkman editor denied them being able to do so because “they never met”. BUT THEY HAD! POST CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS! Dan Jurgens felt the fans were being screwed over by retconning something so small so soon after COIE. In Dan Jurgens own words: “If you’re reading a character we restarted a year and a half ago and you’re already being told a story that didn’t happen, you’re getting the shaft! That’s irresponsible of the publisher!”.
He felt that fans have lost a sense of continuity with characters. DC thought it was a fine idea, so they teamed him up with editor K.C. Carlson to try and find a resolution to this dilemma. Their answer to this was Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!
So the idea was…the ending of Crisis on Infinite Earths never really ended. Ever since then, the timeline has had hiccups leading to things such as multiple Hawkmen since COIE and now someone has managed to control these hiccups and is looking to tear it all apart again. This person (Extant) has an edge that the heroes don’t – he remembers the Crisis in full, whereas they only have pieces of it (Barry’s death, Anti-Monitor fight, etc).
On top of that, Jurgens wanted Zero Hour to feel personal with the heroes. For example, in one of the tie-ins, there are two Barbara Gordon’s around and one of them was never shot. Another was a Krypton that never exploded and so Jor-El and Lara visit the Kent farm with the intent to take Superman back to Krypton – what will Superman decide to do. Jurgens wanted the heroes to be put into a tough decision that didn’t always involve using their fists, but their personal emotions to decide the outcome.
Knowing this was a great way to introduce new books as well, the team took a look around some things pitched around DC previously and tried to find ways to introduce them in Zero Hour, especially if DC really wanted to try and do them. One example of this was Primal Force. Jurgens would then see what the pitches already had worked out and tried to fit them into the Zero Hour miniseries the best he could.
The idea for using Parallax was quite simple. Dan Jurgens originally wanted to destroy Central City during the Reign of the Supermen arc, but was denied by the Flash team at the time. However, since the Green Lantern franchise was struggling, both Mike Carlin (Superman editor) and Kevin Dooley (Green Lantern editor) decided using Coast City could be the jumpstart for changing the books. Dan Jurgens knew of their plans to change Hal Jordan into a villain of sorts, and figured out a way to use him in Zero Hour as well.
When it came to Hank Hall and Extant, Jurgens thought Hank Hall was an easy way to link that character to past events in DC Comics (Armageddon 2001). So in Showcase ‘94 issues 8 and 9, he decided to fix him up a bit especially seeing as the whole Hank Hall is Monarch reveal was a dumb decision that even Jurgens agrees on. So he came up with a solution that was supposed to mimic what the original idea was with the Monarch character.
We started seeing characters like The Ray, Anima, Impulse, Damage and more starting to come to the forefront around this time. This was part of the push DC Comics was making to have a youthful element to their heroes since, again, the aging of other heroes was having them get up there in age. So Jurgens and the team tried to highlight some of these characters as well, especially Damage, to make them important parts of the story.
Showcase ‘94 #8 and #9
Before we get into issue 4 of Zero Hour, it’s best to check out Showcase ‘94 #8 and #9. These two issues each have a story by Dan Jurgens (art by Frank Fosco) that explains the origin of Extant. It begins by Waverider and Hunter of the Linear Men discussing the events of Armageddon and the threat of Monarch aka Hank Hall/Hawk from Hawk and Dove. Perhaps one day we’ll go into the Armageddon 2001 story. As they go over it, they finally locate Monarch who has been waiting for his sensors to trigger that they’re watching him. He finishes his prep as Hunter and Waverider rush in to take him on.
Monarch is able to attack them from behind and ultimately captures them both as he forces the three of them (Waverider and Hunter) into the timestream. His goal is to rebuild time from the ground up, but currently, he is unable to fully control time travel. Hunter realizes this as they bounce around from era to era, and Monarch is trying to convince the Linear Men to give him their ability to travel time easily because who knows where they may end up otherwise.
However, as they travel into the future, they land in the middle of a war. In doing so, Monarch is inadvertently blasted causing his tech to become damaged giving Hunter and Waverider a chance to escape. Monarch recaptures Hunter, but Waverider is free. Threatening to kill Hunter unless he returns, Waverider grabs Monarch in hopes to overload his techs with his own chronal energy. Instead, it gives Monarch the information he needs. He thought he was only Hawk, but when he killed Dove, her powers and knowledge fused into him as well. He can finally tap into the side of Dove as well – a combination of powers from the Lords of Chaos and Order. His full power finally comes out and he changes into Extant.
With Waverider weakened from the energy discharge, Extant easily steals Waverider’s time band allowing him to traverse time (though Waverider never needed it) and hops into the timestream. Now with Extant on the loose and his plans to change time, the entire timestream is now threatened with a new crisis.
Zero Hour #4
Here we are at the end of time. The Time Trapper is on the run from someone. We see a him suddenly blasted multiple times as the attacker mentions something about “you all had your chance. All of you did! It’s my turn now. My turn to make things right”. He then remarks about the entropy at the end of time and how it crushes everything, including The Time Trapper as he dissolves away. Soon, he’ll use entropy to his advantage.
We then see Metron visiting Darkseid. Metron realizes something is messing with time. Specifically, that it seems to be coming apart at the seams. Darkseid doesn’t believe him and Metron leaves to find allies.
Next we visit Gotham. Joker is on the run as we see a bat shadow following behind, and as he gets pulled to the ground, it’s not Batman. It’s Batgirl. Barbara Gordon Batgirl. This can’t be right. At this point she was paralyzed, and this is brought to the reader’s attention when Batman and Robin show up. This Batgirl claims she was never shot, much less paralyzed. Joker uses this moment to get away and so Batman and Robin discuss with Batgirl that she shouldn’t be here and something must be going on. All the while, a younger different version of Robin (Dick Grayson) is watching overhead.
We visit Vanishing Point, the home of the Linear Men, and Matthew Ryder is watching the 71st century. Suddenly, the chronoscopes go blank indicating every year from there and after have been destroyed. He tells Waverider and Hunter to go check it out as he fears whatever is destroying the time stream is working it’s way back to the beginning of time.
Flash (literally) to the 64th Century on New Earth. The Flash is in a fight with Kadabra (pulled from the past – Flash #94) thinking the entropy heading towards Earth is his doing. But Waverider and Hunter show up to inform him that’s not the case. Waverider is unable to close the rift, but Kadabra has an idea with his knowledge on time travel. He thinks Flash can run away from the entropy vortex, then double back around and run towards it. If he hits the right speed, the shockwave could cause the rift to collapse. Flash gives it a try, but fails as his body (not costume though?) dissipates in the entropy. In fact, the whole universe is taken by entropy and destroyed. Waverider and Hunter escape with Flash’s costume (god I love the rainbow time streaks) and they need to keep trying to stop what’s happening. Not sure how Waverider was able to grab the costume when just previously his hand went through him entirely.
Next we are in Metropolis and Batman is visiting to discuss with Superman what he’s witnessed. Suddenly, Metron shows up to break the news.
Back to Waverider and Hunter. They are visiting 5100 AD now and see Hal Jordan Green Lantern attempting to stop the entropy wave there. The citizens there pulled him from a time where he was pure vs the time he wasn’t. As Hal fails to stop the wave, Hunter realizes how similar this is to another case in history. As both Hunter and Hal get overtaken by entropy, Hunter tells Waverider to check the chronoscopes for a crisis. Waverider slips back into the timestream, but as he surfs through it, he notices an anomaly in the timestream.
Quick shot at Hawkman taking out Vandal Savage. However as he does it, he starts to split apart. Now Vandal Savage is surrounded by six different looking Hawkmen.
Dr. Mist can feel something going on in the timeline. He can feel it as an immortal, but he’s also seeing blips of other Dr. Mists popping into his reality. He decides the Leymen must be summoned.
Kyle Rayner Green Lantern is still reeling from the death of his girlfriend Alex when Metron and Superman show up. The plan is for GL to project Superman to the rest of the Earth heroes for help. He does that, and Superman explains the situation to all of the heroes. After the announcement, Metron heads out to speak with The Spectre for help. But The Spectre doesn’t help with “natural disasters” and tells Metron to hit the bricks.
Last part of the issue is Vanishing Point. Waverider heads over to the chronoscope and asks it to access the Crisis event. It does so and Waverider is informed of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. The horror on his face as he realizes whole universes died. Only the Linear Men were aware of the crisis and the severity of it. Now, they aren’t the only ones.
Zero Hour #3
This issue starts with the Justice Society joining Hawkman after his capture of Vandal Savage. As Savage mutters about multiple Hawkmen that disappeared, and Alan Scott is questioned about his new costume and younger appearance, Vandal is suddenly gone in a flashing pain of agony.
Waverider shows up concerned how nobody told him about the crisis as he continues to hold the costume of the Flash that died. He tells the Justice Society that time isn’t just dying from the end back, but it’s going forward in time too from the beginning. BOTH ENDS. When the past century he was from died, so did he in this era. Of course then you have to ask…how does humanity in general still exist if all of our ancestors would have been wiped out? It’s time travel, just let it go.
Waverider touches Jay Garrick which flashes the fate of Wally, the Flash who died at back in the 64th Century. Not sure how this is Barry, especially since it wasn’t explained in this book who that Flash even was.
Quick flash to Vanishing Point. Extant has arrived and taken out the Linear Men.
Back to the Justice Society who are discussing how to proceed. Dr. Fate feels the answer lies outside the time stream at Vanishing Point. He transports all of the heroes except two. Waverider decides he’ll take Hawkman and Hawkgirl/woman(?) to where he needs them to be.
Superman and Metron are next as they fly towards the meeting place of the heroes. They run into Impulse on the run from some raptors that have bled into this era before tricking them by phasing through a wall. He joins the party since he is on the search for his cousin the Flash.
Quick blip to outside the time stream again. We see a white door and The Time Trapper pops through with Rokk from the Legion of Super Heroes (I believe?) Trapper reveals himself to be the older version of Rokk. Rokk then attacks his older self.
Next we are in New York City. All of the heroes start showing up, including a very pregnant Power Girl. Big double page splash of a number of heroes showing up to go over their plans. They decide Superman will be the leader.
Vanishing Point again. The JSA have arrived, but they are immediately blasted by Extant.
Cut to Waverider and Hawkman/Hawkgirl. As they ride through the time stream, they see other iterations of the two flying through the time stream as well as anomalies due to the original crisis. The Hawk-people are one of the chronal disruptions in the time stream. But they are all converging from one entity that started it all. We see a giant hawk creature fighting a Hawkman character. As Hawkman and Hawkgirl jump in to assist, a chronal blast occurs fusing all four characters together. Metron shows up and announces that it’s not a death but a birth. The birth of a new Hawkman character, and we see a new Hawkman looming to be revealed a little later. Poor Hawkgirl is no more from the looks of it.
At the HQ of L.E.G.I.O.N., Vril Dox knows the universe is contracting and sends out a probe into the time stream to investigate.
New Genesis is next. Highfather can only find death and entropy in the cosmos. He is afraid because he feels the end is coming for everything that is and ever has existed.
Back to the heroes including some of the anomalies such as Alpha Centurion and Barbara Gordon Batgirl. They notice some stuff happening such as Maxima’s outfit changing on the fly. The new Hawkman shows up with both Metron and Waverider. Waverider details the problem at hand. Entropy is eating through time. The original Crisis is to blame. It never fully settled and it’s events sent shockwaves throughout time creating a number of anomalies to exist, such as the Hawkmen. As they all come to terms with heroes failing such as Hal and Wally, Aquaman wonders if someone is behind it all. Waverider gets a realization that it could be possible someone is masterminding everything.
Vanishing Point as the JSA take the fight to Extant. Atom is the first to go down as a chronal blast kills him. Another blast tears through Fate causing his helmet to come off and the owners to split. Wildcat and Sandman attack from behind, but Extant quickly eliminates the rejuvenation spells that kept them young, and now they are old with Wildcat having a heart attack.
It’s here Waverider realizes someone is at Vanishing Point and disappears to help the JSA.
Extant forces the remaining JSA members to age as well except for Alan Scott who is protected from his ring. Even at their age, Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite leap to Extant to keep fighting but to no avail. Extant forces them to keep aging and Hourman ultimately passes as well.
Back in New York, a city starts materializing in the sky from the future. Timelines are starting to merge.
Alan Scott attacks Extant, but Extant forces the ring to lose it’s charge. Waverider protects the rest of the JSA in a stasis field. Waverider decides to face Extant before taking them to safety, but Extant has a secret. He lifts off his mask and Waverider now stares into his own face.
Zero Hour #2
Extant monologues here. He has the power to make the universe disappear and it’s Waveriders fault. He’s able to manifest the power that existed with Hawk, Dove, and Waverider and combine them to do what he needed to do. As Waverider attacks, Extant instead casts them back to where they came from as he proceeds to prepare for future battles. He heads back into Vanishing Point to rally his defenses.
Back in New York the heroes decide to tackle the problem of the future city lowering onto the new city. As they all rush towards it, Metron uses his chair to summon a boom tube, and with the energy of heroes like Superman, The Ray, Emerald Dragon, and Captain Atom, they are able to strengthen the boom tube and pull the city back to it’s right time.
As they head back, Waverider and the JSA have arrived. Martian Manhunter and Amazing Man carry some of them to the hospital while Jay Garrick tears off the lightning bolt off his shirt and Alan Scott gives Kyle Rayner his ring – they’re calling it quits.
The heroes decide to tackle the problem at each end of the time stream. Metron leads The Outsiders, Legion of Super Heroes, Superman, Captain Atom, Metamorpho, and Wonder Woman to travel to the 30th Century where it’s starting to be destroyed. Suddenly, they are attacked by Extants forces – other characters from alternate timelines including Redwing, Kilowatt, and other Team Titan members that Mirage knows. Soon, Terra and Mirage will be under his command based on the communicators they wear.
Dr. Mist is surrounded by the Leymen, and he disappears similarly to Vandal Savage.
New York City Hospital. Wildcat and Sandman have been saved, but Dr. Mid-Nite didn’t make it. Jay is frustrated that they didn’t do enough, specifically by requesting help from one friend who used to be part of the JSA. He is going to find him – The Spectre.
Power Girl starts going into labor and a force field is put around her…by the baby.
Now we are in the distant past where characters like The Ray, Superboy, Green Lantern, Anima, Donna Troy, Impulse, and Nightwing join with Waverider. As they try to come up with a plan, more of Extant reinforcements show up featuring other TItans members. However, Extant shows up and fires a blast at Donna Troy, but Green Lantern jumps in the way.
Waverider tries to fight Extant, but Extant blasts him. He takes off his mask, and he’s Hank Hall again – because he isn’t THAT Extant yet. The future Extant sits at Vanishing Point watching it all and remembering that this is how it all went down. Waverider sends the other heroes back to their own time, but the old Extant puts his hand into Waverider and drains his very being. His face transforms into Waverider as the timeline ceases to exist. However just before it winks out, we see Alan’s ring dropped by Green Lantern on the ground. A shadowed hand picks it up as a trophy.
Back at the end of time, the heroes have vanquished the fighters and captured Mirage and Terra who feel compelled to attack them. Metron has figured out how to stop the fissure. They toss his Mobius chair into the entropy, and then Captain Atom fires his energy into the chair. This causes a boom tube to open, and the weight of the universe and timestream pull into a singularity and heals reality.
Rokk and the Time Trapper show up and send the heroes back to their own time.
In the current era, other heroes are fighting Extant’s forces. We see Guy Gardner’s armor start shifting into a gun at his request just as the villains start disappearing and the heroes from the past and future return. Guy mentions that the time stream seems malleable, so it’s possible to bring the Corps (including Jordan) back.
Vanishing Point again. Both Extants fuse into each other as he wonders how and why his entropy rift was closed in the 30th century. Then we see a green glow in the 30th century again, and the character opens the rift again. He then tosses Alan’s ring to the ground and smashes it beneath his foot as the universe in that time disappears.
https://youtu.be/WO3Xm6lCwtI – DC Comics “Zero Hour” 1994 Promotional Video
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Intro and Outro Music: “RetroFuture Clean” by Kevin MacLeod
RetroFuture Clean Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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