Installment One: Zero Hour in 1994

(Welcome to the first installment of A Kryptonian Onion On My Belt, an irregular feature here at the Fortress where I ramble on about something to do with Superman, however tangential.)

Earlier today I was scrolling through the various social media apps and came across an article from ComicBook.Com about the upcoming Zero Hour 30th Anniversary Special and, I’m not going to lie, I got excited.

Like really excited.

Zero Hour: Crisis in Time, for those of you who haven’t read it or just forgot, was a five-issue event that was published on a weekly basis through the month of July and into the first week of August in 1994. It was an event with a purpose. The Post Crisis on Infinite Earths era of DC was becoming muddled, at least as far as the continuity of the universe was concerned. Certain characters were getting revamped, and those revamps started playing havoc with the other titles.  The biggest “offender” was Hawkman. Initially Hawkman was relatively untouched by the Post Crisis makeovers, but in June of 1989 DC put out the first issue of a three issue prestige series called Hawkworld. Written and drawn by Tim Truman, Hawkworld did an overall on Katar Hol, the second version of Hawkman that first appeared in Brave and the Bold #34 (Feb/Mar 1961). Because of the changes to Katar’s history, most of his Post Crisis appearances were suddenly filed under, “That Didn’t Happen.”

This had an impact on Action Comics #650, published in January of 1990, and became one of many issues writer/artist Dan Jurgens had with DC’s continuity. He told Wizard: The Guide to Comics in 1994, “Continuity wise Hawkman was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back. When we did Action Comics #650…we wanted a flashback sequence to Superman #18…when Hawkman took Superman to what was left of Krypton. And the Hawkman editor at the time said, ‘No, you can’t do that. Hawkman and Superman have never met.’ Huh? A year and a half into the new Superman and you’re re-writing Superman’s continuity already? You can’t do that—that’s screwing the fans. That’s really what happened—all these changes ended up screwing the fans.” He went on to say, “I don’t think fans should have to have a clear-cut understanding of what happened in a 1965 DC comic book, but, by God, if you’r reading a character we restarted a year and a half ago and you’re already being told a story didn’t happen, you’re getting the shaft! That’s irresponsible of the publisher.

You have to admire Dan’s commitment to the readers. Some creators would have probably just rolled with the punches and found a work around, but Dan wanted to play fair with the people buying and reading the comics. This led Dan, along with editor K.C. Carlson, to pitch the idea of Zero Hour, which was a way of reestablishing the relationship between the characters and where they stand. Dan also wanted to give the DCU a fresh kick off, which would come in the form of a Zero Month.  During Zero Month, all participating books would put out a zero issue that would either introduce the character (if they were new) or reintroduce the character (if they needed it).

DC pulled out all the stops when it came to this event. The promotional materials were top tier, and they even produced a video that was sent to shops that had the various editors explaining what Zero Hour and Zero Month was and what they can expect from the various characters. This video was hosted by someone dressed as Parallax and…you know what…just watch it for yourself. It’s pretty awesome.