Zero Story: Crisis in Interest
Admittedly I'm more of a Marvel fan than DC fan (before the ubiquitous events of the late '90s and '00s), but I do enjoy it once in awhile when it makes sense and tells a good story. Zero Hour, though, doesn't do either of them. There is no characterization until the last three pages of the series, and even that is a little forced considering everything else that had gone on in the DC universe lately (death of Superman, breaking of Batman, insanity of Hal Jordan and destruction of the Green Lantern Corps). 5 issues really wasn't enough time (if you'll allow the expression) to develop anything substantial with this supposedly major event. I understand it was essentially just a "house keeping" scenario, trying to clean up a lot of the incomprehensible things that had accrued in the DC multiverse during the decade since Crisis on Infinite Earths. One doesn't need to know that storyline, though, to understand Zero Hour, since there isn't much to understand in Zero Hour. The first four issues are an overly-rapid gathering of most of the DC superheroes from multiple dimensions, eons, and realities, all the while reality itself is being consumed from both ends of time, the beginning (Big Bang, apparently) and the end (Entropy). This is part of the inanity of the concept: if time is being devoured from the beginning, why do the superheroes continue to exist until the time ruptures reach their birth age? If time and reality are being destroyed from the beginning, wouldn't the erasure of all their ancestors (and the materialistic origin of life from non-life, apparently) eliminate them a lot sooner than the fissures reaching the '60s? Dan Jurgens and KC Carlson may have put a lot of thought into what they wanted the DC universe to look like after the completion of this event, but I find it strains credibility to believe they put a lot of time into planning what this story was supposed to be. I understand a superhero has to accept a lot of unnatural things most of us non-superheroes would find incomprehensible, but all of the heroes in this story (with the brief exception of Batman for two or three panels) accept with immediate equanimity all of the dimensions and eons of time are blending together: "I'm here from the 30th century, nice to see you!" "Looks like all the Hawmans of all the timeplanes are here together ... all right." As I said, the pacing is overly fast to be meaningful (ironic, since Flash is the first to die). The main antagonist Extant has no real motivation for doing what he does, then toward the very end of the series we learn he is just a henchman for the real mastermind behind it all - though the sources of all the time fissures destroying all of reality are hinted at being created not by Parallax, the super-main enemy as well. Parallax is likewise a poorly motivated character: he wants to end all of the pain and suffering the DC universe has endured by recreating it nicely, with room and time for everyone forever. This doesn't seem like such a bad notion, and not enough time is given to debate and ponder whether or not it's a worthwhile goal. Instead, in the series' desire to wrap the event up quickly to get on with the latest (and not the last) franchise-wide reboot/relaunch, Green Arrow gets upset, "kills" his old friend, and Waverider somehow saves the day simply by bringing the inexplicable survivors back in time to 1995. As I said, not much thought was given to the rationality of the story. The series is saved from complete inanity by a couple of good moments, primarily the end of the Golden Age heroes and their acknowledgement they have been around far too long, and though the Green Arrow conclusion is too fast, it does provide a few panels of as-close-to-genuine pathos as this haphazardly done story gets, even if one is not fully aware of the decades' worth of friendship Oliver and Hal have shared. The purpose of the story is fulfilled: Superman landed in the '60s, the Golden Age heroes are dead or retired, and the '90s generation of writers are free to operate as if the past 60 years of stories didn't happen (until the '00s-'10s generation of writers come along and "relaunch" the DC universe yet again). Overall, the writing is mostly horrible, the artwork is cramped and poor (too small panels for big happenings, too many heroes crowded into small frames - the cover is a good example of the roughshod nature of this story's construction), but it is a series with a couple of good moments scattered here and there (all of which have been retconned several times since).