Zero Hour was a crossover event that took place in 1994, intended to deal with numerous possible futures and alternate timelines in the same way the earlier Crisis on Infinite Earths had dealt with alternate realities. The main storyline featured the destruction
- I used to be the errand boy for the Guardians of the Universe. It was a thankless job. I knew that. I had never asked for anything. The one time that I did, I was denied. It dawned on me then just how unfair the universe really was... how much in need of a makeover. But now it's gone. As are the Guardians. I say we need a new start. A fresh beginning. Done right. I tried this before, you know. But I was limiting myself when I tried to remake Coast City. Fixing one city doesn't help when the whole world... the whole universe is messed up. This is my blank page for creation. My chance to remake everything -- the way it should be.
- -- Hal Jordan
Zero Hour was a crossover event that took place in 1994, intended to deal with numerous possible futures and alternate timelines in the same way the earlier Crisis on Infinite Earths had dealt with alternate realities. The main storyline featured the destruction of the timestream by the efforts of Parallax (Hal Jordan), attempting to restructure the universe and correct things that he perceived to be wrong. Another supervillain, Extant, took advantage of the chaos and tried to use it to recreate the world in his own image. Leader of the fight against them was Waverider of the Linear Men. The conflict resulted in an entirely new Big Bang, which rebooted the entire DC Universe with subtle differences. This served as an opportunity to clear up continuity problems, and fix plot elements and pieces of history that no longer worked well.
Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! was a five-issue limited series published in 1994, written and drawn by Dan Jurgens. The issues were published from #4-0, in keeping with the theme of the Countdown to Zero Hour. Crossovers in many other books at the time tied into the main storyline, and even months beforehand many titles foreshadowed it by having their characters experience strange inexplicable time anomalies. In the immediate aftermath, October, 1994 became Zero Month, where all active and new titles published a #0 issue. This gave writers an opportunity to establish changes in continuity that had occurred for their characters during Zero Hour.
Rise of Monarch
- See also: Armageddon 2001
In 1991, a new villain from a totalitarian future was introduced, Monarch. Monarch came from forty years in the future, a world where he had killed off every single superhero, leaving himself as the authoritarian dictator of the entire Earth, its lone protector. A single hero opposed him, Waverider, a man fused with the Timestream who traveled back ten years before Monarch's rise to power to prevent his creation. Exploiting a flaw created by Waverider, Monarch followed him back and tried to create his own rise to power ten years before it was supposed to happen. Monarch was revealed to actually be Hawk, Hank Hall, who was driven insane when Monarch killed his partner Dove. Hank killed his future self, becoming Monarch in the process.
With his new powers, Monarch spent a good deal of time fighting Captain Atom all across the timestream. Later, during a conflict with the Linear Men, Monarch leeched a portion of Waverider's abilities to look into his own past, and realized he had become more than simply Hank Hall. He had absorbed Dove, not simply killed her, and become a fusion of the children of the Lords of Chaos and Order. He became Extant, stole Waverider's time gauntlets, and plunged himself into the timestream.
Fall of Hal Jordan
During Reign of the Supermen!, Coast City was destroyed by Mongul and Cyborg Superman. Resident hero Green Lantern, Hal Jordan was driven mad by grief, having lost his home and his loved ones. He uses his power ring to recreate Coast City, for which he receives an official summons from the Guardians of the Universe. They reprimand him for violating one of their principal rules by using his ring for personal gain. Enraged, Jordan flies off to Oa with the intention of siphoning the Green Lantern Central Power Battery's powers to recreate his city permanently. He was forced to fight many of his fellow Green Lanterns, many of whom he killed or left for dead after taking their rings. Making it to Oa, he killed Sinestro, Kilowog and all of the Guardians with the exception of Ganthet. He absorbed the full power of the Guardians, and emerged from the Power Battery having taken on a new costume and identity, calling himself Parallax. Ganthet would use the last remaining power he had salvaged to create one last Green Lantern, and imparted the last ring to Kyle Rayner.
Crisis in Time
Two supervillains individually attempt to destroy the timestream using entropy. Extant wishes to recreate the world in his own image, and Parallax wants to construct a better world, that wouldn't produce the evils that turned him into a villain. Both of their plans involve first destroying everything that ever was, is, or will be, and the following genocide of billions of people. The heroes of the world are organized to fight the chaos, gathered by Superman and Waverider of the Linear Men. With the barriers of time destroyed, time begins eating away at itself from both ends, and the lines separating alternate timelines become blurred, allowing them to interact with the main universe. The Flash is killed trying to stop the entropy. All versions of Hawkman converge into a single being. The Justice Society of America is decimated by Extant, Doctor Fate, Hourman and the Atom are killed, and all except for Alan Scott are aged into withering old men. The Team Titans, revealed to be pawns brainwashed by Extant, fight the heroes and are completely erased from history. Time Trapper is revealed to be Rokk Krinn. Extant kills the Waverider from his timeline, and the Matthew Ryder of the regular timeline is forced to become the new Waverider. The Legion of Super-Heroes are completely wiped out, along with the entire 30th Century. The Leymen are slaughtered by Extant. When Parallax reveals himself, most of the timestream has already been destroyed, and he is attempting to recreate the Multiverse that existed prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths. There's a big showdown between Parallax and the remaining heroes, Parallax is weakened by the Spectre, and Green Arrow kills him. The Spectre then overloads Damage with the cosmic energies unleashed in the fight, and a new Big Bang is triggered. The timeline is rebooted with subtle differences, but guided by nature, and not by the hands of a villain.
At the end of time, a mysterious figure murders the Time Trapper. Metron unsuccessfully attempts to enlist Darkseid to help him against what he perceives to be a gigantic upcoming crisis. Batman and Robin are surprised to be aided in capturing the Joker by an alternate Barbara Gordon, still operating as Batgirl despite the fact that she was earlier crippled from the waist down. Matthew Ryder alerts the rest of the Linear Men when his observations of future timelines are mysteriously completely disrupted. The team arrives at the conclusion that a wave of entropy is working its way backwards from the End of Time, destroying everything in its path. Rip Hunter and Waverider are sent to investigate. In the 64th Century, the Flash fights Abra Kadabra. They are interrupted with the Linear Men, and the group attempts to figure out a way to combat the quickly approaching entropy waves together. The Flash, attempting to generate a shockwave by doubling back through his own vortex at ultimate speed, is consumed by the entropy and dies. Batman brings the temporal problems in Gotham City to the attention of Superman. Metron appears, and enlists the two of them to help him. Hunter and Waverider arrive in the 58th Century, where they find a younger version of Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), before he became corrupted, battling the entropy wave under the leadership of Pol Manning. Both Green Lantern and Hunter perish, although Hunter warns Waverider that this is another Crisis, and he must check the Chronoscopes. Hawkman battles Vandal Savage, and suddenly splits into many different temporal counterparts. Doctor Mist notes several of his own counterparts fading in and out of existence. Superman approaches the newer Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, and requests that he use his ring to help broadcast a message to all of Earth's heroes. Superman announces the coming of a gigantic new Crisis, and rallies everyone to meet him in Metropolis. In the Chronoscopes, Waverider reads of the original Crisis, long forgotten to all except for the Linear Men. The Justice Society of America converges upon Hawkman, who has summoned them to deal with the recently captured Vandal Savage. However, Savage is suddenly erased from existence. Waverider appears and explains that Savage died because the ancient period he was born in was just erased. He then informs Jay Garrick of the recent death of Wally West combatting entropy. At Vanishing Point, Extant lords over the unconscious bodies of the Linear Men.
The Justice Society decides to take the fight immediately to its source, using their extensive experience with time-related problems as an advantage. Doctor Fate transports them to Vanishing Point, although Waverider uses Hawkman and Hawkwoman for his own purposes. While traveling to New York City with Metron, Superman goes to investigate screams coming from Keystone City, and meets up with Impulse, who is fighting Dinosaurs. He enlists the young speedster to join him. Outside of the Timestream, the Time Trapper reveals to Rokk Krinn that he is in fact just an older version of himself. In New York City, the heroes of the world finally converge and join together. Superman is elected group leader. The Justice Society arrives at Vanishing Point, and Extant immediately begins blasting them with Chronal Energy. Waverider shows the two Hawks how they are at the center of some of the problems and ramifications still being caused by the original Crisis. On Cairn, Vril Dox of L.E.G.I.O.N. determines that the Timestream is falling apart and sends probes into it to investigate. In Supertown, even the New Gods themselves are terrified of the entropy, as Highfather finds himself unable to feel to feel the powers of the cosmos anymore. The heroes discuss the chronal disruptions with Waverider, and whether or not they can determine who's real and who isn't. Aquaman questions whether or not there could be a singular being of power controlling the whole situation. The Justice Society continues to fight Extant, but are grossly outmatched. He uses his powers to age them. The Atom is outright murdered, and Doctor Fate is defeated as well. Wildcat and Sandman are aged into withering old men. From New York, Waverider feels for the presence of Extant, and is able to track him to Vanishing Point. He is too late to save most members of the Society, as all of them except Alan Scott are aged to old men by Extant's powers. A city from the 25th Century (home of Booster Gold) appears above New York City, and begins slowly descending, about to crush everything. Metron explains that alternate timelines, past and future, true and false, are all merging with the present. After putting the Justice Society in stasis to stabilize them, Waverider confronts Extant. He is shocked, when Extant unmasks himself and reveals a face identical to that of Waverider's own.
The recently unmasked Extant explains to Waverider that they appear identical because he duplicated Waverider's powers. Extant leaves to coordinate his other machinations, and Waverider has to transport the horribly aged Justice Society back to Earth. In New York City, Metron helps the world's heroes deal with the descending city from the 25th Century by sending it back to its own period via Boom Tube. Waverider arrives, and reports the most recent damage Extant has done. Broken, defeated and hospitalized, the JSA is forced to retreat from the fighting. Having determined many of their problems are currently in the future, the heroes travel to the 31st Century accompanying the Legionnaires. Before they can find a way to combat the Entropy waves, they are all confusingly attacked by the Team Titans. The Teamers are being controlled by Extant, who was earlier revealed to be their founder and mysterious leader, using their communicators. Doctor Mist is erased from existence in front of his Leymen, when the long ago time he was born in is erased from history. Alan Scott and Jay Garrick stay in the hospital with their friends. They are told that while Wildcat and Sandman will survive, the doctors were unable to save Doctor Mid-Nite. Garrick decides to pay a call on the Spectre, and ask him for help. Supergirl tries to help Power Girl deal with her pregnancy, but a force field projects from her, apparently being generated by the baby itself. Extant gloats over Linear Men Matthew Ryder and Liri Lee, who he appears to have trapped in stasis. He criticizes them for observing time, but never using the power they had to attempt to change it for the better. In the distant past, a group of heroes led by Nightwing try to help Waverider combat the entropy waves, but they are also set upon by a group of Team Titans. After Nightwing guesses that the Teamers are being controlled, Extant shows up and attacks Waverider again, but appears not to have Waverider's powers, and is apparently a slightly past version of the Extant who recently confronted him. Waverider is barely able to send the heroes back to their own time period before Extant strikes him down and absorbs him and his powers. The future Extant watches on as he does this. In the 30th Century, Metron believes that he has figured out how to stop the entropy using his Mobius Chair. Superman and Captain Atom team up to help him make the entropy collapse in upon itself. Pure quantum energy ignites the chair, and a Boom Tube opens within the rift, turning it inside out. The weight of the timestream and the universe collapses, making reality's fabric whole once again. Rokk Krinn and the Time Trapper arrive to help the heroes return back to their own time. Back in the present, the other heroes are still fighting the Team Titans. Warrior finds himself manifesting new powers, able to sprout weaponry from his armor upon thought command. Finally, the Team Titans disappear, as the heroes' interference in the 30th Century has wiped out the alternate timeline the Team Titans come from. The heroes who were in the future return, including Terra and Mirage. The heroes are confused as to why those two still exist, which Batgirl hypothesizes is because they were in temporal transit at the time. Guy Gardner wonders if the current time fluxes could be use to their advantage to bring back Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. Elsewhere, Extant merges with his past self, and angrily wonders how he could be failing despite his concrete prior knowledge of his success based on previous trips to the future. A mysterious figure in the 30th Century reopens the rift of Entropy.
In Coast City, Warrior, Steel, Supergirl and Batgirl attempt to escape the entropy, fresh from their own adventure through time. Extant looks at the entropy, and wonders how all of it could have been created without his knowledge. The true hand responsible steps out and reveals himself: Parallax. Parallax tells Extant that he has been responsible for all of the chaos, and blasts Extant into submission. In the 30th Century, the Legion of Super-Heroes stand with their time paradox counterparts and the Time Trapper, waiting to be consumed by entropy. They sacrifice themselves into oblivion so that there can be another tomorrow. After the Legion is gone, Parallax shows up and murders the Time Trapper... again. In New York City, Wonder Woman helps Power Girl through her pregnancy. Heroes from the future, like Impulse and Booster Gold begin disappearing as the times they've come from cease to exist. Jay Garrick pleads with the Spectre to get involved in the Crisis. As Garrick fades away, the Spectre realizes that there is a human hand coordinating the events, and tells Jay that his death will be avenged. As chaos consumes New York City, Metron takes a select number of heroes to Vanishing Point, to seek temporary haven where time does not exist, and regroup themselves. Metron, along with Superman, Green Lantern, Donna Troy and the Atom arrive at Vanishing Point and find the Linear Men still in stasis. Lacking the ability to travel through time with the precision they require, they intend to convert Matthew Ryder, a man from the future, into a Waverider like his counterpart from a another timeline was. Alan Scott and Starman preside over their injured friends in the hospital. Having grown too old to continue his career, Starman passes his legacy onto his son, David. Finding them hiding in one of the last remaining pockets of reality, Extant brutally murders the Leymen. Extant shows up in New York City and confronts the last heroes left alive. Batman is killed as an entropy fissure opens right on top of him. As the heroes prepare a last stand, the new Waverider shows up to fight Extant. The Atom tries to get inside Extant's head, but instead is aged backwards to 18 years old. Superman engages Extant as well, but the mastermind behind the entire Crisis reveals himself to everyone. Parallax announces that he has engineered everything, believing that the Timestream is not right, and has to be changed. But to recreate the universe... he first has to obliterate it.Parallax explains his plan to some of the last remaining heroes, Batgirl, Guy Gardner, Alpha Centurion and Triumph to recreate a better universe for everyone now that he's nearly destroyed everything. He developed his great new powers by absorbing residual energies left over from the defeat of the Anti-Monitor in the first Crisis. He journeyed to the End of Time, where he harnessed entropy and used it to weaken the link maintaining time's perpetual loop. At Vanishing Point, Waverider, Superman and the others try to think of solutions. Also gathered are Captain Atom, Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Ray, Liri Lee, Donna Troy, Green Arrow, the Atom and Damage. Waverider believes it would be possible for them to recreate time themselves, using the complete records kept by the Linear Men. Parallax begins to recreate the universe, beginning by removing the destruction of Coast City. He also plans to resurrect the Green Lantern Corps, and he even considers setting up alternate earths so that individual heroes can be happy on their own worlds. Before he can make any serious changes, the team from Vanishing Point arrives and Parallax is blasted by Waverider. As they hold their final confrontation, Parallax argues with the group, maintaining that they are all short-sighted, and his killing of billions was justified in the name of a better world. Coming from alternate timelines, and having been convinced of the value in Parallax's goals, Alpha Centurion and Batgirl join Extant to fight at his side. To confront Parallax, the Spectre himself arrives, and the two of them begin to duke it out in a fight of cosmic proportions! While Parallax is distracted, Waverider has the other heroes he gathered follow his carefully laid out plans. Stray energy is drawn from the fight by those capable of absorbing it, and using Waverider as a conductor, is all channeled into Damage. As Parallax is about to kill Damage, Batgirl dives in the way and sacrifices herself to save him. Kyle Rayner comes up from behind to grab Parallax just as Green Arrow resigns himself to putting Parallax down once and for all. Green Arrow shoots Parallax through the chest, and kills him. Satisfied that justice has been done, the Spectre deliberately pumps more energy into Damage until he is unable to control himself. Filled with an overwhelming number of energies on both a cosmic and biblical scale, Damage explodes and creates... a new Big Bang. Waverider and the other heroes, having barely escaped by being taken outside of time and becoming anomalies themselves, overlook the new universe. Displaced characters, like Alpha Centurion and Batgirl's corpse fade away, and Extant simply leaves. Waverider has everybody safely reinserted back into the moments in the timestream they came from, and the world is completely back to normal. All of the deaths caused by temporal anomaly are reverted, although those who died of natural means remain dead, and Waverider explains what happened to those who are confused. In the meantime, in the midst of all of the death, Power Girl has conceived an infant child, a boy. As Green Arrow mourns the death of his best friend, and the Linear Men go back to their arduous tasks, the Time Trapper, consistent at the end of time, presides and ponders over the events.
Across the Universe
Shortly before Zero Hour, Superman had recently returned from the dead after The Death of Superman during Reign of the Supermen!. Metropolis had just been destroyed during the Fall of Metropolis. The heroes of Metropolis also met heroes from another world during Worlds Collide, such as Icon, Hardware, Static and the Blood Syndicate to fight a new supervillain Rift. Although the events of Worlds Collide were erased from history during Zero Hour, Metropolis itself wouldn't be restored until much later (it remained in ruins after the Crisis).
During the Crisis, Superman encountered a number of alternate realities. He first encounters the anomalies when he runs into a large group of alternate versions of Batman. Superman also encountered a timeline where his parents, Jor-El and Lara had been mistaken about Krypton blowing up, had lived on after rocketing him to Earth, and tried to convince him to come back to live with them. A version of Metropolis appeared in which Superman had never been heard of, but the city was protected by Alpha Centurion instead. Another timeline featured a Smallville where Emmett Vale had found the Kryptonian rocket before Jonathan and Martha Kent, killed baby Kal-El and harnessed Kryptonian technology for himself. Superboy, Kon-El also ran into an alternate Superboy, the younger version of Superman from the Silver Age.
During Zero Hour, despite the fact that her alter ego Barbara Gordon had been crippled below the waist by the Joker years before, an alternate version of Batgirl reappeared active in Gotham City. Alfred Pennyworth was replaced by his Golden Age counterpart, Alfred Beagle. Batman also saw an alternate reality in which his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne had not been killed by Joe Chill at all, although Batman still pursued the mugger. Robin (Tim Drake) met the original Robin (Dick Grayson) while he was still active as a sidekick. Catwoman met a caveman, and interacted with a Sabretooth Tiger.
After Zero Hour, Batman's origins were changed. The mugger who killed his parents was no longer Joe Chill, but an unidentified assailant, and Batman was no longer aware of who was responsible for the murder. These changes made the earlier Batman: Year Two story apocryphal. Batman was no longer a public figure, but was thought of as being an urban legend. Elements of Batman's origins in crimefighting techniques and in equipment were detailed and clarified. Contrary to her portrayal in Batman: Year One, Selina Kyle had no longer been a prostitute before becoming Catwoman. Not ready to fully return to his responsibilities as Batman, Bruce Wayne passes the mantle onto his first sidekick, Dick Grayson. Grayson's time as Batman would be explored in Batman: Prodigal.
Prior to Zero Hour, Power Girl became pregnant by unclear means. Shortly before the Crisis, Justice League International saved humanity from destruction at the hands of Overmaster and the Cadre during Judgment Day. Ice was killed in the conflict.
During the Crisis, Triumph, a hero who claimed to be one of the founding members of the Justice League of America, showed up at the Justice League Embassy asking the JLA for help. Apparently, Triumph had first brought together the original members of the Justice League to combat an alien threat, but had sacrificed himself into the Timestream, and had been automatically corrected out of existence. Using the newer League's help, Triumph was able to finally confront and defeat the alien menace that had trapped him in inter-dimensional stasis for so many years.
After the Crisis, there was some reorganization between the Leagues. Triumph and the Ray joined Justice League Task Force, which Martian Manhunter was developed more as its own independent team, instead of just being a sub-group of the JLI. Hawkman, Nuklon and Obsidian also joined the regular League. A new Amazing Man debuted, who joined the recently established Extreme Justice.
Items: None known.
Vehicles: None known.
Weapons: None known.
- Sandman: Worlds' End, a story running through Sandman (Volume 2), is tangentially related to Zero Hour. It features characters who take shelter in an inter-dimensional inn that appears during reality warping storms. Dream's funeral takes place at the end of Zero Hour.
- Although Worlds Collide, an intercompany crossover between DC Comics and Milestone Media in 1994 was erased from continuity by Zero Hour, the characters from the Dakotaverse would come to the DC Universe for the first time again, later in the 2008-09 Milestone Integration.
- As an event that spanned time in its entirety, aspects of Zero Hour have continued on years into the future of the DC Universe. A full 14 years later, in 2008, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle ran into and were forced to fight Extant and Parallax during a chance encounter in the Timestream. Rip Hunter claims to run into them every once in awhile as well.
- Interestingly, although Hal Jordan brings up idea popular from the Pre-Crisis Multiverse in his proposal for a new world, he wouldn't have remembered any of it, not being present during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. He quit the Green Lantern Corps shortly prior to the battle with the Anti-Monitor at the beginning of time, and didn't regain his status until afterwards.
Links and References
- Zero Hour article at Wikipedia
- Zero Hour Frequently Asked Questions
- Zero Hour series index at the DCU Guide
- Zero Hour series index at Comicbookdb.com
- Zero Hour series index at the Grand Comics Database
The events from this issue or series are related to Zero Hour: A Crisis in Time!, or its successor event Zero Month. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Zero Hour category.