Hourman #1-25 (April 1999 – April 2001)
Written by Tom Peyer
Co-plotted by Christopher Priest (#20)
Pencils by Rags Morales (1-11, 14-16, 18-19, 21, 23-25), Steve Scott (#12-13), Jason Orfalas (#17, 20), Howard Porter (#20), Tony Harris (#22)
Inks by David Meikis (#1-7, 9, 11-12, 14-16, 18-21, 23-25), Andrew Hennessy (#8, 13-14, 16, 19), Mark Propst (#10, 21), Walden Wong (#12-13, 17), Norm Rapmund (#20), Tony Harris (#22), Claude St. Aubin (#25)
Coloured by John Kalisz (#1-6, 8-16, 18-25), Gloria Vasquez (#7), James Sinclair (#17)
Separations by Digital Chameleon (#1), Heroic Age (#2-19, 21-25)
Spoilers (from seventeen to nineteen years ago)
One thing I’ve noticed lately is that my Marvel and DC tastes run pretty different. When I do these columns about Marvel comics, there is a high chance that I’m picking some pretty classic and mainstream runs in titles like the Avengers, Captain America or on the periphery of the X-Men line, with titles like X-Factor and New Mutants. When I write about DC books, it’s almost always going to be an oddball, short-lived thing. I love Batman, but there’s not a lot in his catalogue that I want to revisit. The more traditional stuff hasn’t sustained my interests in the long-term, so I’d rather reread Justice League Task Force than the Justice League of America.
This is all preamble to me saying that while late 80s and early 90s Marvel comics are my comfort food, mid to late 90s DC weirdo books are the ones that I most want to revisit at times. Hourman launched out of Grant Morrison’s JLA at a time when I was losing interest in that title (I hated the DC One Million event, but largely blame that on Val Semeik’s artwork), and beyond picking up the first issue, I never gave it much of a chance.
My editor here at Pulse (shout out Babos) was talking to me once a couple years back about how good the series was, and I immediately remembered that Hourman (this is the future robot version, not the Golden Age character) had a cool look, and that Rags Morales drew the entire run, and I decided it was time to read it. It wasn’t even all that hard to track down the run, luckily.
I’d forgotten that Snapper Carr featured in this comic. I’ve always hated Snapper, who has struck me as a poor man’s Rick Jones, but I want to keep an open mind. Let’s see how good this comic, that somehow ran for two years at the tail end of the 90s implosion, really is.
Let’s look at who turned up in the title:
- Mad Hatter (#1)
- Amazo (#1, 5-7, 19-21, 25)
- Professor Ivo (#2)
- Epoch, the Lord of Time (#3-4)
- Dr. Togg (#5, 10)
- Torcher (#8)
- Hourman II (Rick Tyler; #8-9)
- Else-Men (#11-13)
- The Undersoul (#13, 15)
- Snatcher (#14-15)
- The Skipper (#14-15)
- The Joker (#16)
- The Counter-Evolutionary (#18)
- The Love Detective (#19)
- Khunds (#20)
- Zauriel (JLA; #1, 7)
- Flash (Wally West, JLA; #1, 5-7)
- Huntress (Helena Bertinelli, JLA; #1)
- Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner, JLA; #1, 5-7)
- Batman (Bruce Wayne, JLA; #1, 16)
- Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz, JLA; #2, 16)
- Tomorrow Woman (#2)
- The Catastronaut (#3-4, 9)
- Hourman I (Rex Tyler; #5, 12-13, 23-24)
- Superman (Clark Kent, JLA; #5-7)
- Wonder Woman (Diana, JLA; #5-7)
- Plastic Man (JLA; #5-7)
- Steel (John Henry Irons, JLA; #7)
- Orion (JLA; #7)
- Aquaman (Arthur/Orin Curry, JLA; #7, 16)
- Big Barda (JLA; #7)
- Flash (Jay Garrick, JSA; #8, 18-21)
- Bill Clinton (President of the US; #8)
- Superman (Justice Legion A; #10-13)
- Wonder Woman (Justice Legion A; #10-13)
- Batman (Justice Legion A; #10-13, 23)
- Flash (Justice Legion A; #10-13)
- Aquaman (Justice Legion A; #10-13)
- The Atom (Justice Legion A; #11-13)
- The Adam Stranger (Guardian Thought of the Rann-Worlds; #11)
- Boss/Foreman (foreman at Tyler Chemorobotics; #12-13, 24)
- Metron (New God; #12-13)
- Blackhawks (of 853rd Century; #13)
- Green Arrow (Ollie Queen, Justice League of America: #16)
- Green Lantern (Hal Jordan, Justice League of America; #16)
- Atom (Ray Palmer, Justice League of America; #16)
- Flash (Barry Allen, Justice League of America; #16)
- Black Canary (Dinah Lance, Justice League of America, JSA; #16, 18-19)
- Hourgirl (#17, 21)
- Sand (JSA; #18)
- Atom Smasher (JSA; #18-19)
- Wildcat (Ted Grant, JSA; #18)
- Starman (Jack Knight, JSA; #18)
- Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders, JSA; #18)
- Star-Spangled Kid (Courtney Whitmore, JSA; #18)
- Wonder Woman (Hippolyta, JSA; #18)
- Sentinel (Alan Scott, JSA; #18)
- Dr. Fate (Hector Hall, JSA; #18)
- Vril Dox (LEGION; #21)
- Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark, Young Justice; #22)
- The Secret (Young Justice; #22)
- Superboy (Connor Kent, Young Justice; #22)
- Robin (Tim Drake, Young Justice; #22)
- Impulse (Bart Allen, Young Justice; #22)
- Red Tornado (Young Justice; #22)
- Dr. Fate (Kent Nelson; #24)
- Snapper Carr (#1-25)
- Bethany Lee (Snapper’s ex-wife; #1-8, 10-20, 22-25)
- Officer Gary (Happy Harbour police; #2, 11-13, 15, 22-25)
- Chief Audry Lee (Happy Harbour police and Bethany’s mom-; #2, 15, 22-25)
- Riker (owner, Mad Yak Café; #2-3, 8, 10, 19-20, 22-25)
- Wendi Harris (Rex Tyler’s wife; #7-10, 19-20, 24)
- Nash (Beth’s friend; #8, 19)
- Sticky (Riker’s son; #8, 22-25)
- Torcher (#10-13, 22-25)
- Dr. Togg (#11-13, 19, 22-25)
- Hourman II (Rick Tyler; #19-20, 24)
- Crusty Old Doc Tyler (#21)
Let’s take a look at what happened in these books, with some commentary as we go:
- The first issue is narrated by Snapper Carr, who is able, through the weirdness that comes from being around Hourman, to have knowledge of events that took place before he was involved. Hourman is hanging out with some of the JLA – Flash, Green Lantern, Huntress, and Zauriel, as they relax, but in his impatience ruins the game that Flash and GL are playing, and then by revealing what they will say before they say it, starting an argument between Huntress and GL. The gist of it all is that everyone knows that Hourman, who is basically two years old and from eight hundred fifty something centuries into the future, doesn’t know a lot about human interaction. Hourman suggest that he learn from the JLA’s resident authority on dating, and so they go find Batman, who is in the Mad Hatter’s death trap. Hourman rescues him, although this goes against Batman’s preferred way of being perceived by criminals. When Batman insist that Hourman become more worldly, our hero scans Batman’s mind, and decides that he should go meet Snapper Carr, the former sidekick to the Justice League. Snapper is sitting in a cafe thinking about the adventures he is about to have, and laying out some of what we, as readers, have to look forward to in the series. The JLA and Hourman arrive, and Snapper takes Hourman, who he calls Tyler, home with him. As they walk, they talk about how Hourman’s base code, Miraclo Gene-Ware basically makes him part of the Tyler family. Hourman gives us a recap of Snapper’s life, skipping over the embarrassing parts, which is kind of all of them. Snapper shows him a piece of Amazo, the first android, and Hourman uses his powers to bring Amazo from the past to them. Amazo gets all aggressive, so Hourman uses his powers to send him away again. The problem is that he immediately returns, having absorbed half of Hourman’s powers (they now call him Timazo). As chronal blasts fly, Bethany, Snapper’s ex-wife, gets out of her car outside, hit by a blast, and turned into a toddler. Timazo and Hourman flit around through time as they fight, and end up facing various versions of themselves. Hourman brings Timazo back to Snapper’s and as he counts down, the android disappears. Hourman collapses, exhausted, and explains to Snapper that he made changes to the past so that Amazo never got his powers. Snapper asks how Hourman can ever learn from his mistakes if he keeps undoing them, and that gives Hourman the idea to get rid of his omnipotence. He breaks the Worlogog (the Morrison-created device that powers him) into tachyons, gets rid of most of them, and leaves himself with much more limited abilities, and a much cooler costume. The work done, he immediately questions himself before resting. Snapper feels good that he’s made progress in helping his new friend and that things have ended positively, but then we see toddler Bethany wander onto an expressway.
- Bethany is picked up by Officer Gary, who calls his Chief, Audry, who suspects that the child might have something to do with Snapper Carr, who she hates. Snapper wakes up and recaps the last issue. Hourman also wakes up, dismayed that he depowered himself so much. He disappears just as Gary brings the child to Snapper’s door. Snapper doesn’t know that the kid is his ex-wife, and he insists that Gary accompany him for breakfast at the Happy Yak Café. Hourman meets with Martian Manhunter on the moon, and asks him where Professor Ivo is. He goes to visit Ivo in jail, wanting to know why he made Amazo evil, as he thinks that has affected all androids descended from him. Ivo wants to know when he will die (he’s become obsessed with dying after taking an immortality serum. Hourman activates his “hour of power”, one of the limitations he placed on himself, and learns about Tomorrow Woman, the kind android he built that helped the JLA. Hourman teleports away, leaving Ivo with his own gravestone (he doesn’t like the date on it, which we don’t see). Snapper and Gary feed the kid when the Chief shows up and insists that Snapper come in for questioning, because Bethany is missing. Hourman goes to Tomorrow Woman’s grave, and when he can’t figure out what he wants to know from studying her life, he resurrects her. At first she attacks him but then they become friends. The Chief decides to charge Snapper with Bethany’s murder, despite there being no proof that she’s dead. Tomorrow Woman doesn’t just want to chat with Hourman, so they head into town to stop crime. They show up at the police station as Snapper is being booked, and Tomorrow Woman recognizes that the toddler is Bethany. The Chief now recognizes her daughter, and with less than a minute remaining in Hourman’s hour of power, he wrestles with using that time to explain to Tomorrow Woman that she’s about to disappear, and restoring Bethany (although I’m not sure why he couldn’t just turn his hourglass and start all over again). Tomorrow Woman tells him to fix Bethany, demonstrating that she already knows the score, and while everyone pays attention to the restored Bethany, Tomorrow Woman disappears. Later, Hourman broods at Tomorrow Woman’s gravesite (again, I don’t know why he can’t come back and restore her again some time). The last page has Snapper imagining the day Kennedy was shot in Dallas, but in the background are some very weird looking characters.
- In the far future, a different version of Hourman fights against Epoch, the Lord of Time, over possession of something called a Timepoint. Future Hourman wants to free the souls trapped inside it. Epoch jumps around in time, attacking Future Hourman just as he tries to steal the Timepoint, and then does something else, which causes the Timepoint to disappear, and Future Hourman to attach himself like a parasite to his own past. In the present (by which I mean 1999), Snapper and Bethany have taken Hourman to the Café to buy him an espresso. He has a reaction to his first sip of caffeine, and then thanks his friends for their patience with him. To reciprocate, at Bethany’s suggestion, he takes them to his Timeship, and he activates his “hour of power” to show them how it works. They end up outside of the timestream, and find another version of Snapper, and take him a fight between Amazons and Gorilla City in another reality. Our Snapper is upset to see how much more accomplished his alternate being is. As Hourman tries to explain Hypertime, Epoch shows up and attacks Hourman. He sends him and his friends to a black-and-white era, where they realize that President Kennedy has just been killed. An older couple keeps telling them that it happened, on a loop. They also notice alien figures all over the place. Hourman recognizes that Epoch has trapped them in a loop, and goes to investigate. Someone called the Catastronaut holds a gun to Snapper and Bethany, and we learn that he is also a prisoner in this loop. Bethany gets his fun from him. Hourman figures out that Epoch’s created a Timepoint around this moment, and thinks he can break through, but is unsuccessful, crashing down in front of his friends. He explains that he knows how to free them, but his hour is up, and he cannot turn his hourglass again for another hour. The problem is, the time loop doesn’t last that long, so they are trapped in this moment.
- Snapper is getting frustrated at being trapped in the Timepoint, while Bethany continues to show faith in Hourman, who is suddenly split in two by the emergence of Future Hourman. Epoch is confused by the fact that he can’t find Future Hourman or the Timepoint. He does some time destruction stuff. In the Timepoint, Future Hourman remembers Snapper and gives Bethany a big kiss before restoring our Hourman. They talk and we learn that Future rebuilt Present so that his powers are active again. Together, they build a new Timeship, although this is seen by Epoch, who surrounds the Timepoint in his armor so they can’t escape. The two Hourmen talk, with Future encouraging Present to keep exploring his human side. They are unable to escape the Timepoint again. Snapper and Bethany have moved into a diner that plays a bit of an Elvis Presley song on loop. The Catastronaut, who we’ve seen standing around throughout this issue, has disappeared. They are joined by the Hourmen, who explain that they’ve failed again, but an off-hand comment by Snapper about Future and Bethany “making time” gives the androids the idea to age Snapper into an old man, which breaks the Timepoint, and sends them spilling out of Epoch’s chest. He tries to fight them, but Hourman turns him into a baby. Snapper is de-aged to normal, and Future gives Present the Timepoint to keep safe, as he has to go fight Epoch again. Before leaving, he gives Snapper a “security scanner” to help him think of ideas for his writing, and tells Bethany that the policeman won’t really love her. He sends our trio back in time, and they find themselves in thome of Rex Tyler, the original Hourman. Snapper finds a single Miraclo pill, and tries to get Hourman to take it.
- After taking the Miraclo pill, Hourman collapses, behaves strangely, and tells Snapper and Bethany to get away from him while he thrashes around. Suddenly, he finds himself in a more cartoonishly-drawn version of the past, watching Rex Tyler, the original Golden Age Hourman, fight an ambulance in a maniacal fashion. Our Hourman finds he can’t talk to his ‘genefather’, but a zoot suited version of Snapper (who is a figment of Hourman’s imagination) appears to explain. Basically, Hourman’s systems are analyzing the Miraclo pill, and using a form of telemetry to experience Rex Tyler’s life. Rex stops the ambulance, and Snapper encourages Hourman to merge with him. In reality, Hourman keeps wrecking the Tyler mansion. Back at Snapper’s house, the Amazo chip kind of explodes, and Snapper’s cat gets sent flying out of the window, perhaps dying in the process. We see a hand and forearm that looks like it belongs to Amazo. In Hourman’s vision, a pair of lying weird creatures emerge from the wrecked ambulance. These things are called Gombezi, and this proves that a villain from 1940, Dr. Togg, is behind whatever Rex/Hourman is fighting. He is also about to mutate the mayor’s wife, all of which confuses our Hourman. Rex/Hourman begins to remember his difficult childhood, while defeating Togg and his Gombezis. We get a varied look at different moments in Rex’s life, including the way in which Miraclo made him increasingly aggressive and erratic, and how it drew a wedge between him and his son Rick, who also becomes a Miraclo user. Hourman also learns about how Rex had to watch his son die, and then die himself at the hands of Extant. His hour of Miraclo power over, Hourman wakes up back in reality, and realizes that he’s really trashed the Tyler home. He is confronted by an android version of the Justice League (Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Plastic Man).
- The Android League is pursuing Hourman as he tries to flee. He tries to appeal to their humanity, but it doesn’t seem to exist anymore. They capture him, and while they secure him to the boat Plastic Man has made himself into, Snapper recaps the plot of the last issue, revealing that while Hourman was in his Miraclo fugue, and his body was trashing the Tyler home, Snapper triggered the JLA signal device on his chest, looking for help. He was surprised to find the Android League show up. As Hourman continues to try to reach the League, he is surprisingly rescued by Amazo, who leaves Flash falling to his death. Hourman rushes down to save Flash, who immediately tries to apprehend him again. Amazo again saves the day, defeating the whole League and flying off with Hourman. He takes our hero to a hospital maternity ward, where gets Hourman to hit him, to show that he now bleeds blood. He then uses his power to absorb super-powers on the babies, absorbing their humanity, and leaving them as androids (which is what he did to the JLA). Hourman attacks him, but Amazo gives him a beating and takes off. Snapper feels sorry for himself at the Tyler home, but Bethany tries to cheer him up by pointing out just how much he’s done that day (he usually does nothing). This helps, but then Hourman shows up looking for advice in how to manage Amazo. The cops, who have responded to the disturbances there want to arrest Hourman, so Snapper pretends to be a hostage, buying them time to talk. He doesn’t want to help Hourman, as he feels he will just screw it all up, and instead insists that Hourman apply his lessons in humanity to the situation. Hourman flies off, with police shooting at him, but then returns and snatches Snapper, insisting that he help him. Amazo turns up and absorbs Snapper’s humanity, leaving him an android too.
- Amazo shows up at a cruise ship’s casino, and when he loses at Roulette, gets upset, taking all the chips, making the patrons and crew forget him, and then tries to pilot the ship. The android Green Lantern, Superman, and Wonder Woman come to stop him, and totally ignore the fact that he threw a sailor into the water. Realizing what he did, the now very human Amazo retrieves the sailor and revives him, before capturing the three Leaguers and flying away with them. Hourman, Android Snapper, and Bethany have gone to Snapper’s home, where they find the place completely trashed by Amazo. Hourman says something sexist about Bethany not being able to help him, because she’s a girl. He explains that Rex Tyler’s voice is floating around in his head now, and that was him speaking. Snapper starts cleaning up, while Hourman goes looking for Starro the cat. Starro is badly injured, and Hourman heads out to take him to the vet that Bethany recommends. Amazo has captured the Android JLA, and is using conflicting commands to disable them. In England, Wendi Harris, the actress and widow of Rex Tyler, is filming a movie when she receives news that her house has been trashed. She’s upset, because she worries about her momentos of her dead husband, and because the person who trashed her stuff is called Hourman. Hourman returns to Snapper’s, explaining that the cat is going to be okay. Bethany suggests that Hourman use Rex’s mind to help him fight Amazo, as Hourman believes that an android can’t defeat his now-human foe. Hourman goes to the JLA Watchtower, and starts using things in Steel’s lab, while also using a modem signal to track down the Android JLA. He locates Superman, and shows up in Amazo’s base having altered his body significantly with Steel’s equipment, turning himself into a tank. He is able to knock out Amazo, which then allows him to use his “power hour” to unmake Amazo, and restore the League (and presumably everyone else) to human. Later, Snapper looks after his cat, while Hourman explains that he used Rex’s ideas to improve himself. Next, he says he wants to apologize to Wendi Harris, and tries calling her. He’s told that she will be in England for a week, and Hourman decides he can’t wait that long, and disappears. Bethany thinks he’s gone to England, but when they see Hourman’s timeship out the window, they realize he’s actually going to next week instead.
- Issue eight ties in to the Day of Judgment event, where Hell breaks out across the Earth. It also takes place in the week Hourman has skipped, so we only see him for a couple of panels. Snapper wakes up after a rough night of not writing, and when his coffee at home smells terrible, heads to the Happy Yak. On the way, he sees a priest being chased by a demon, and tries to help out. Upon arriving at the café, which is now called the Mad Yak, he finds Riker watching TV. On the TV, the Golden Age Flash and President Clinton talk about the demon invasion taking place. Snapper finds Riker more grumpy than usual, and learns that his coffee also smells terrible. Bethany and her friend Nash come in, but Beth ignores Snapper. He sits and reflects on his life, remembering the self-doubt that caused him to quit the Justice League way back, and to question if he’d made the right choice. Riker argues with his son Sticky while Snapper helps himself to a slice of cheesecake. The father and son arguing gets Snapper more and more annoyed, especially when Sticky turns his teenage barbs on him, and he breaks a bottle of ketchup. This gives him an idea, and he grabs another bottle, making a pentagram on the floor. He reveals that everyone in the café has a demon on their back, making them act this way. Just then, Hourman pulls him a week into the future, to see if he needs help dealing with the demons. It looks like Hourman has his own problems to deal with (they are in a chemical plant and the scaffolding is being ripped apart) so Snapper says he can handle it. Once back, Snapper makes the acquaintance of his personal demon, Torcher, and convinces him to try some cheesecake. Once he finally does, Snapper points out that the Yak is a great place for people who have had tough lives to hang out and start over, and Torcher gets rid of the other demons, choosing instead to eat more cheesecake. Everyone is happy with Snapper for a change. Wendi Harris goes to visit Rick Tyler in the hospital, where he is dying from Miraclo-induced leukemia. She tells him that their Long Island home was trashed by Hourman, and Rick gets really angry, swearing he’ll kill Hourman. After Wendi leaves, Rick falls out of his bed and retrieves a pair of Miraclo pills he’d hidden.
- At the Tyler home, Wendi works with her designers to try to restore things exactly as they were. Hourman shows up in her bedroom wanting to apologize, and it goes poorly until a bit of Rex slips into his speech, and Wendi learns that her dead husband lives on in Hourman. He tells Wendi that she needs to stop living in the past, comparing her life to that of the people trapped in the Timepoint. This saddens Wendi, so instead, Hourman uses his time vision to restore the house to the way it was in 1973. Looking through it, Hourman learns about Rick’s leukemia, and he tells Wendi that he knows how to cure it, which he generally feels is a bad idea (because he doesn’t want to mess with the timestream and stuff), but since he feels like Rick is his son, he agrees to do so. They go to Rick in the hospital, and he gets excited to learn that he can be cured. When Hourman scans him, however, he says that he doesn’t have leukemia, and that his illness is not Miraclo-induced. He also says he can’t help him. Rick gets angry and kicks them out, and then takes the two Miraclo tabs he’d hidden, and trashes his hospital room in a rage. Hourman again tries to apologize to Wendi, and since she wants to see more of Rex (and because she’s drinking) they go to Tyler Chemical. While waiting for Wendi to use the washroom, Hourman learns of the demon attacks of the week before, and begins to worry about Snapper. Rick-Hourman shows up in his horrible costume and tries to fight Hourman, busting through the chemical plant while they tussle. In a lull in the fighting, Hourman brings Snapper forward from the week (and issue) before, and they relive the scene we’ve already seen. Rick attacks again, and Hourman uses his time vision to burn through the Miraclo in Rick’s body. He then eases his illness and sends him into the Timepoint, so he can continue without getting worse. Wendi is upset that her son is condemned there, while in the Timepoint, Rick swears that he will get revenge and kill Hourman.
- After spending fifty-eight years in jail, Dr. Togg, who is hideously transformed into half a Gombezi, is released. Snapper and Bethany coach Torcher, who is now hanging out with them, in how to order at the Mad Yak Café, exactly as they did Hourman before. Hourman arrives with Wendi Harris, and reacts badly to Torcher’s appearance when the demon recognizes the famous actress. Snapper calls Hourman out for being judgmental, and then they all sit down and catch one another up on what happened, with a focus on the fact that Rick Tyler is now trapped in the Timepoint. When they leave, they are approached by Bill McDowell, the CEO of Worldfarmco, a company that Togg has infiltrated and is causing problems at. Togg is watching all of this, and he immediately falls for Bethany. McDowell explains that he hired Togg (Worldfarmco is set up as being similar to Monsanto, in that it is monetizing food production in ways that are harmful to farmers). Togg has been making more Gombezis, and Torcher convinces Hourman to let him protect McDowell. Just then Gombezis attack, and while everyone is distracted, they snatch Beth. Togg uses his Monstroscopic Lamp to turn Beth into a Gombezi. Hourman shows up, and angry at how Togg misuses his genius, smashes the lamp, which traps Bethany in this new form. Hourman fixes it with his time vision, and then restores both Bethany and Togg to their proper human forms. Hourman then reaches out to Togg. Later, we see that Togg is now working on Hourman’s timeship, trying to figure out how to cure Rick, while the Gombezis are kept safe outside the time stream. Later, Hourman and Bethany talk, and it looks like Hourman is about to confess his love for her when they are interrupted by a summons from the Justice Legion A, the heroes of Hourman’s time.
- The Justice Legion A has called Hourman home to the 853rd century, and examine him to make sure that his software hasn’t been compromised, as they can’t understand why he chose to weaken himself and live in the past. Hourman defends his choices and his right to make them, and the team shows him respect. When he wants to leave, Future Wonder Woman says he is needed. In the 20th century, Snapper, Bethany, and Torcher climb up to Hourman’s timeship to try to figure out where he’s gone. Officer Gary joins them, against his better judgement. They surprise Dr. Togg, who doesn’t want them on the ship, but who changes his mind when he sees Bethany. Snapper figures that Hourman might summon his ship, so they will wait for him there. In the future, the JLA bring Hourman up to speed on events. Adam Stranger, the living will of all Rannians has been acting strangely – it looks like there has been a massacre on Rann-Prime, but that it has been hidden and forgotten. Hourman agrees to help on this issue. Togg tells the others that he can figure out how to work this timeship, but Torcher claims the same, and when they pull on things, the text goes backwards for a bit. Hourman, Future Superman, and Future Wonder Woman boom-suit to Rann, and Hourman is aware that someone is in his ship thousands of years in the past (parallel narratives don’t work in time travelling stories). Adam Stranger hits Hourman with a Zeta bomb, sending his skin to Earth, but not before he uses his time vision to show that the massacre really did happen, and that it was caused by some glowing balls of light (like a bad episode of Star Trek the Next Generation). One of these orbs touches Future Superman, and turns into an idealized version of him that gives him a beating. Another becomes a better Future Wonder Woman. Hourman reveals that everyone on Rann is dead and replaced. Another light ball touches Hourman, and becomes the version of Hourman that started the series, and he grabs android skeleton Hourman by the head.
- Light Ball Hourman continues to rip our Hourman apart. We learn from Snapper’s narration that the light balls are called Else-Men. While Else-Man Hourman taunts our Hourman, Future Superman works to save him with his heat vision, which does not work; instead, it looks like he’s blasted Hourman. Suddenly, Else-Man Hourman disappears and Future Superman gathers Future Wonder Woman and they return home. After they’ve healed, Future Superman talks to the JLA about how the Else-Men will come to Earth next. Future Atom holds the microchip that is all that remains of Hourman, and we learn that he and Future Superman planned to use Hourman’s time vision to devolve himself to that single chip, and to do the same to Else-Man Hourman. Future Superman, aware that when the Power Hour is up, things will return to how they were, takes Hourman to Tyler Chemorobotics, where we see how other “intelligent machine colonies” are built, by other androids under the control of one called Boss. Boss promises to fix Hourman, and Future Superman asks about the “Old Man” who created him, who Boss says doesn’t like to talk to his androids, as they end up worshipping him. Hourman’s hour is up, and his broken and battered body returns. The other androids don’t think he can be fixed, so they take off, except for a bunch of tiny ones that go searching for the parts of Hourman that came to Earth via Zeta bomb. Hourman tells Boss that he’s not worthy of being fixed, since the Else-Man Hourman makes him feel like a fool for giving up his powers and the Worlogog. He also feels like his decision to hang out with his friends in the past was an error as well. Boss says that in order to restore Hourman to what he was, he’d need permission from the Old Man. Else-Man Hourman shows up, but Boss just deactivates him. He then goes to see the Old Man, who wants to fix Hourman, because, as it turns out, he’s Rex Tyler, the first Hourman, somehow looking young and fit after some 83 300 years. Future Superman returns to the Justice Legion, where Future Batman has determined that there is really no way to stop the Else-Men once they arrive on Earth. Snapper and his group of friends are still on the Timeship, just floating around waiting for Hourman to come to them. Boss decides to transfer Hourman’s memory and self into the Else-Man’s body. On some other plane, Hourman finds Metron and asks to return to his tutelage. Metron asks him to renounce selfishness, and he agrees; Metron goes to Tyler Chemorobotics.
- The Blackhawks of the 853rd century look like fighter jets with human faces taking up their cockpits, and human hands attached to the ends of the wings. They look stupid. The Blackhawks take up position around Rann-Prime, but Future Superman tries to warn them away. Too late, they are attacked by the Else-Men light spheres. One of them is duplicated and perfected (which makes it a lot bigger, which seems like something that 853rd century technology could have done on its own), and the others retreat. Future Flash points out to the Justice Legion that there are more spheres approaching the Earth. In the Timeship, we see that Snapper and his friends aren’t doing so well. They neither hunger nor age, but they do grow beards and get smelly. Gary and Torcher are both losing it, while Dr. Togg is fine. Hourman, now using the Else-Men Hourman body, speaks to Metron about how he feels he let him down. They have the Else-Men copy of the Worlogog, the time device that Grant Morrison made sure made no sense, and Metron wants to use it to recover the real device. Hourman is conflicted, with his loyalty torn between Metron and Snapper, although he chooses to see things Metron’s way. They go to the Timeship, where Snapper assumes, from Hourman’s appearance, that he is an earlier version of his friend. As Hourman is about to explain, Torcher jumps on him, asking to go home, alerting Metron, who is also attacked by Officer Gary. Hourman is rude to his friends, upsetting Bethany. Metron freezes all of the 20th century people, and sends Hourman to deal with the Else-Men. The Justice Legion A goes out to face the light spheres, but Hourman instead returns them all to the time where they were born, and follows them to the Big Bang, where he discovers a presence called the Undersoul, who he will apparently meet soon in a shopping mall. The Undersoul somehow takes over some of Hourman, causing him to argue with himself. The Undersoul also reveals that Hourman will abandon omnipotence again, which is knowledge that gives Hourman relief. He freezes the Big Bang (I guess not forever), and then sends the Worlogog to Metron, who is angry about that. The Justice Legion A hold a ceremony to celebrate Hourman’s accomplishment by creating a neoconstellation in his honour, but he doesn’t show. Boss talks to Rex Tyler about how they put Hourman back the way he was, with a few other options and suggestions written in, which Boss didn’t feel good about doing. On the Timeship, Hourman kisses Bethany, and asks if she and Snapper think he’d make a good superhero.
- Snapper spends a day riding a Greyhound bus, which is the only place he can get any writing done. He comes across a teen runaway with a huge mop of hair, calling himself Janet Reno, in the bus terminal washroom, gives him some money for food, and tells him to meet him at the Mad Yak in a while, so he can help him work through his problems. As Snapper goes to leave, he finds the kid being pulled through a teleportation portal by a guy who looks like a member of Kiss, calling himself Snatcher. Snapper gets ready to fight the guy, but then Hourman turns up, grabs Snatcher, and they both disappear, leaving Snapper alone. He finds them fighting still in the terminal, but Snatcher takes off. Hourman says he had followed Snatcher to a type of hell; Hourman says he needs to go look for the kid with the hair and tells Snapper that he’ll sit down and talk with him and Bethany later. An old man shows Snapper something in the newspaper. In some sort of Hellscape, a big horned guy is interrupted by the fact that Snatcher, in civilian clothes, is upset that he didn’t capture that kid. A few other guys try to comfort him, and the big guy, who they all call Skipper, gives him a hug and a pep talk. Snatcher leaves, and it seems that the entrance to this Hell is in a mall. Snapper shows Bethany that Hourman has been advertising his services as a hero in the newspaper, and says he thinks he’s going through the motions of being a hero (and the motions of putting ads in papers, which is why his ad says “no smokers”). Bethany is annoyed with Hourman. Snapper gets her to come with him to the Mad Yak to meet the kid. The kid is waiting outside the café, and sees Snatcher on a roof across the street. Snapper and Bethany arrive, and Bethany comes on strong, convinced that the kid, who now says his name is Matthew, is Hourman’s alter ego. Three of the Snatcher lookalikes drag them through a portal into Hell, and start choking them. Matthew’s shirt rips open, and it turns out he is Hourman. He uses his time vision on the Hell, and it turns out that it used to be a retail spot in the mall (having worked retail, I can attest that it is sometimes Hell). The Snatcher guys are arrested, and the people captured in the Hellscape are freed. Hourman apologizes to Bethany, and as they make out, Snapper is pulled through a teleportation portal by another Snatcher, and is confronted by the Skipper, who says that there are lots of shopping malls in the world.
- Hourman doesn’t want to celebrate his victory in the mall, as he is concerned that it has something to do with the Undersoul, who he met in the far future. They decide they should talk to the Snatchers, but then realize that Snapper is missing. We see that he is being held by one of the Skippers, who is beginning to torture him. Chief Lee gives Bethany a hard time for hanging out with Hourman and refuses to let him speak to her prisoners. When she leaves, having said some dark things about Bethany, they try to talk to Gary, but that doesn’t work either. Instead, Hourman decides he needs to do some undercover work as Matthew Tyler. At the local TV station, the news anchor discovers that the whole Hell in the mall thing was discovered, and he kills the amateur cameraman who brought in the footage, and his producer. He calls and reports this to the Undersoul, who destroys the entire station. The Undersoul is a guy who looks a bit like Stan Lee wearing a Dr. Strange cape. He calls a meeting of all of his employees, which gives Snapper a break from being tortured for every bad thing he ever did in his life. The Undersoul gives his employees a pep talk, and shares with the readers that his torture operation has created a number of business leaders and presidential candidates. He also promises that if they are shut down, he is going to set off Armageddon. Matthew and Bethany hang out in the bus station bathroom, and Matthew is immediately snatched by a Snatcher, who, once he gets to the Hellscape, he beats the snot out of. He figures out how to get to the Undersoul and goes to confront him as Hourman. Undersoul immediately hits the Armageddon button under his desk. Hourman tells him that they met in the 853rd century, at that the Undersoul becomes a bodiless monster that never meets its goals. This gets the Undersoul to hit the ‘Disarmageddon’ button and order all his prisoners freed. Back at home, Snapper feels awful about himself, and says that he’s evil.
- Snapper is still practically catatonic, so Hourman narrates issue sixteen, as he attempts to use Snapper’s habit of writing about their adventures to help him bring his friend back to himself. Part of the narrative framing of this issue is that Hourman and Bethany read over his words later, at the café, where they are observed by a guy in a Wharf Rats Local 210 hat, who is taking notes. Hourman goes through Snapper’s notes from his days with the Justice League, which is a huge source of Snapper’s guilt. Hourman uses his time vision to let them look in on that era. We see a number of the League’s early adventures (the time they were turned into trees, the time they became fingers, etc.) with Hourman and Snapper added into them, and we see the good times they all shared, which makes Snapper feel even worse for betraying them like he did. Finally, we look in on that event, where Snapper got recruited for “The Average Army” and taught to become a normal everyday guy (Normcore before that was a thing). After being hypnotized by John Dough, the most typical man in America, Snapper handed over his key to the Justice League headquarters and headed out to preach the normalcy gospel. Once he’s gone, we learn that John Dough was secretly the Joker. At this point, we learn that Snapper never told Bethany about this, but that one of the reasons why he ended their marriage was because it was too perfect. The League confronted Snapper about his new life, and he responded with weird talking points. The League heard laughter and then a bomb exploded in their meeting room, showering Green Arrow with playing card-themed shrapnel. They realized that the Joker was behind this, and that he’d stolen all of the weapons in their trophy room. Flash and Martian Manhunter rushed to Gotham, where Joker had already used Dr. Light’s disco lamp to keep Batman immobile. Joker then used Kanjar Ro’s scepter to make Flash and the Manhunter fight one another, but Batman contacted J’onn telepathically so he could move his hand to light his lighter to scare J’onn into self-control, and to take out the Joker. While he was being arrested, an officer found the JLA key that he took from Snapper. We learn that he quit without being asked to, and in the present(ish), Hourman continues to try to comfort his friend.
- Issue seventeen was drawn by Jason Orfalas, who was a talented artist who doesn’t appear to have had much of a comics career, despite more or less holding his own when compared to Rags Morales. Bethany is hanging out with the Hourman from the far future who helped out in the Timepoint story. He’s surprised to remember the depths of his feelings for Bethany, and wants to make out with her, but then our Hourman shows up, and he’s not happy with what he’s seeing. He storms out, and Future Hourman explains to Bethany that Our Hourman acts the way he does because of the changes Rex Tyler put in his programming in the future to make him act like a hero. Bethany spurns Future Hourman’s advances, at least until he goes to talk to himself. Snapper is spending this time writing, and thinking about a weird run-in he had with a guy in the café who was talking about women, but he thinks the guy was specifically talking about Bethany. Hourman, in his Matthew Tyler form, goes to the shed he uses in an abandoned lot. In it, he looks at his few momentos, and questions his life decisions. He remembers a conversation he is going to have with his future self, and then is surprised to find him at his door, disguised as a dog, which Future Hourman finds funny. They talk about how the Matthew guise is reflective of Hourman’s running away from the privilege of the future; Future Hourman sees using a dog as a secret identity as proof of being more advanced. He takes Hourman to a century in the far far future where an entire hundred years of time is devoted to celebrating Hourman. They meet Hourgirl, who is happy to show Hourman around for his first time. She explains that this timeframe has been designed and populated as a refuge for him. Future Hourman returns to Bethany, who rejects him more soundly and clearly. After Future Hourman leaves, he returns to her door in his dog form, which she doesn’t recognize; she embraces him. Our Hourman is surprised to see what a celebrity he is in the Hourman Century. Hourgirl gives him a watch that will allow him to come back and forth to that time, and he goes home knowing that he will become a great hero. Back in his shed, he lies on the floor looking happy.
- So all this time, Hourman has been in the JSA, although that’s never really had much to do with this series. Now, he attends a JSA potluck dinner, and brings a package of bologna, which embarasses him until Jay Garrick saves the day with his good manners. Hourman gets a premonition that something bad is going to happen, and Sand discovers that their defenses have been penetrated by someone. Hippolyta and Hawkgirl go to get the intruder, but Hourman jumps to his defense, because it’s Snapper. He came to see how Hourman acts in this group, and is upset when he realizes that Black Canary is there (residual humiliation from his JLA days), but she’s happy to see him. Flash and Sentinel are suspicious of his influence on Hourman though. Dinah smooths over the past with Snapper, who then explains to Sentinel that he’s been worried that the JSA has been a bad influence on his friend, perhaps bearing some responsibility for his odd secret identity and newspaper hero ads. The team laughs at Snapper, which embarrasses him. We see through flashback that before coming, Future Hourman, after a strange run-in with Bethany, told him that something bad would happen with the JSA. While they chatted at the Mad Yak, some guy in a Where’s Waldo shirt and fur vest with a heart on it took notes on them conspicuously. In the present, Dinah explains why she was laughing. Before their meal, Hourman got called in to help Atom Smasher and Hawkgirl fight a bunch of cavemen and pterodactyls in Manhattan. His time powers didn’t work on these things, and he discovered that they were the work of The Anti-Evolutionary, a giant creature who devolves living things to extend his own life, who has, in the past, defeated all-comers. Acting on a statement Atom Smasher made, Hourman punched him in the large face, which made him disappear. Snapper is impressed by Hourman’s heroism and quick thinking, and then gets really angry that Hourman behaves so differently around him. Snapper really loses it, yelling a whole bunch of awful things that we don’t get to read, as Wildcat and Canary drag him out of the party. The narration tells us that the next day, Snapper is still mad at his (former?) friend.
- Black Canary, the Flash (Jay Garrick) and Atom Smasher talk about Hourman, and how he’s just resigned from the JSA after choking in a fight with Extant in that team’s title. Bethany goes looking for the dog that we know is the Future Hourman, and our Hourman comes to talk to her, but she ignores him, even after he tells her that the dog is Future Hourman. A guy in a suit with a heart on his lapel listens in on their conversation. Hourman sits at the Mad Yak but gets ignored by Riker, who serves Nash ahead of him. Snapper arrives, but is still angry at Hourman so refuses to talk to him when he asks him to. Riker serves Snapper, and asks him where Hourman’s been, which tips off Snapper that something weird is happening. The guy with the heart on his suit sits outside of Bethany’s apartment, reporting to someone that he considers Bethany to be a “class-A heartbreaker”. The dog attacks him out of nowhere, and Bethany comes to stop it. The guy lets slip that he knows Bethany’s name, at which point the dog turns into Future Hourman, explaining that the guy has been stalking her. Bethany thanks him. Wendi Harris is filming a commercial for a new invention – the Hotburger (think of a hot dog made of hamburger meat) when Hourman interrupts, and isn’t happy to see that she isn’t happy to see him. She wants to know if progress is being made to cure Rick, and he explains that Dr. Togg is working on it. At that time, Future Hourman and Bethany teleport in, and Future Hourman reveals that Wendi hired the Love Detective to spy on Bethany because she wants to protect Hourman from her. Future Hourman discovers that Rick hasn’t been cured yet, and so they tall go to the Timeship where he corrects Togg’s work, and pulls Rick from the Timepoint. Rick is angry at first, but then Future Hourman cures him. Our Hourman gets upset, feeling like everything happening around him is designed to embarrass him; he flies away, crying. Snapper is at home thinking about what’s been happening, and comes up with a theory. He goes to the Mad Yak, where he finds Future Hourman, Bethany, Wendi, and Rick. He accuses Future Hourman of actually being Amazo; Amazo reveals himself and snaps Snapper’s neck.
- Issue twenty opens with a strange section co-plotted by the incredible Christopher Priest. Snapper, believing that he’s in Hell, finds himself in space, captaining a vessel that is in a huge fight with a Khund fleet. His ship is destroyed, but he is teleported to a Khundian ship, where he discovers that his teleportation abilities still work. His escape attempt fails though, and he’s taken prisoner and put in bonds that prevent him from snapping his fingers (a prerequisite for his powers to work). At the same time that this is happening, we see that Snapper is lying dead at Amazo’s feet, as he turns back into Future Hourman and sits down with his group of friends, who have not seen any of this. They eat cheesecake, and Future Hourman takes every opportunity to put down our Hourman. “Dead” Snapper, before being interrogated by some Khunds, remembers betraying the Justice League and the Blasters (which the editor promises we will hear about soon). Hourman goes to Flash (Jay Garrick) to ask for help, and Jay goes on a weird rant about newspaper journalism. Hourman asks him if he’s ever felt like going back in time to destroy his younger self, and Jay offers to get the JSA to talk to his future self. Hourman sees this as a mistake and takes off, but Jay follows him, and has to hit him with his hat to get his attention. Jay insists on helping Hourman, and wants to meet Future Hourman. “Dead” Snapper is being interrogated by the Khund Captain, at which point Snapper remembered this really happening, which he sees as proof that he’s not dead, but sent into the past. At this point, the Khunds cut his hands off.
- Hourman has retreated to the century where he is celebrated, and has been lying around being served for days, not speaking. Hourgirl and some authority figure decide that they need to bring in Crusty Old Doc Tyler, a psychiatrist known for being brutally effective in helping her patients. She digs through Hourman’s memories, recognizing his lack of self-esteem, and acknowledging that Future Hourman (who we know is Amazo) has been manipulating him. She digs into his most recent memories, and we see him flying with the Flash (Jay Garrick) to confront Future Hourman. When they found him, he was fixing a chemical train derailment, and Flash was impressed by him. Future Hourman used some mind control to get Flash to offer him a spot on the JSA, which is why Hourman fled to his century. Crusty Old Doc Tyler tells Hourman he needs to go confront his rival; Hourman thanks her and de-ages her to a time when she was more idealistic. He tells Hourgirl to record her like this, so when the power hour is up, she can be reminded of who she used to be. Hourman returns to our era just as Future Hourman is being recognized by the military. They start to fight, and teleport to the Arctic. Amazo reveals himself, and Hourman surprises him by suggesting that they keep things the way they are, since Amazo is better at being Hourman than he is. Angry, Amazo takes him to show him what he’s done to Snapper, insisting that he’s going to make him relive his worst moments over and over. At this, Hourman sends himself flying into Amazo’s head, saying he’s going to take over. In the past, Snapper has been rescued by LEGION, and is talking to Vril Dox. Dox uses a nanite device to regrow Snapper’s hands, but tells him that his teleportation powers are gone. Hourman arrives, riding and controlling Amazo.
- Tony Harris drew issue twenty-two, but with a looser and more cartoonish approach than he had been using on Starman just before coming here. It’s a good look, and fits with the oddball feel of this series. Snapper has discovered that he sold a book that he never sent to his editor, and is to be better paid than he ever would have expected. The promise of money leaves him a bit lost, just as Hourman shows up to visit him. They talk through the night, as Hourman lays out a plan of his, and Snapper agrees to it. The heroes of Young Justice (Robin, Superboy, Wonder Girl, Impulse, someone the internet is called The Secret, and Red Tornado) show up at the Mad Yak with the goal of meeting Hourman. They are equally intimidated and grossed out by the place, and Riker makes it clear that they aren’t welcome. Evidently, they think that Red Tornado and Hourman should meet since they’re both androids, but Riker chases them off. Hourman arrives after the leave, and talks to Riker about his plan, which involves him and Sticky coming somewhere with Hourman. Riker is reluctant, as he can’t afford to close the café, but Hourman explains that Snapper is coming into money. Dr. Togg and Torcher stalk Snapper’s cat while squabbling between themselves. Togg thinks that Hourman has killed Amazo (we really don’t know what happened there). They want to mutate the cat to settle a bet, but Hourman shows up and they both immediately agree to take part in Hourman’s plan, which we learn involves his Timeship. Next Hourman goes to see Wendi Harris, but she and Rick are away; Hourman is a little relieved, as he knows that Rick doesn’t like him. Next he goes to see Officer Gary, who is supportive of the plan until he sees Chief Lee coming. Hourman invites her too. Bethany is not happy to learn that her mother is coming, and they make out as they fly to the Timeship (which has been redesigned to be sleek and a little art deco, like it was designed by Dean Motter in a hurry). Everyone has gathered, and Hourman explains that the fuel that runs his Timeship is almost gone and that he wants to use what’s left on an adventure with his friends (why he can’t just go to the future and get more fuel is not mentioned). Bethany thinks it sounds like Hourman is planning on leaving them soon, but he sidesteps her question. Everyone makes suggestions of where to go, but the first stop is to see Snapper in one month, where/when he hands Hourman a bag of gold. Hourman says goodbye and flies off.
- The Timeship flies through time, and I noticed that Hourman has mounted Amazo’s skull as a hood ornament. Bethany asks again what Hourman is going to do after their road trip, and he avoids answering; because she has to use the bathroom, they pull over in 1954. The men line up outside a gas station washroom, and Snapper is concerned to see Hourman in his Matthew Tyler guise, because no one had hair like him in the 50s. Sure enough, they get harassed by a local cop who Audrey assaults, remembering him as a low point in Happy Harbour’s history. He tries to shoot Audrey, but Hourman stops the bullet and Audrey knocks him out. Riker is happy to find old comics and discontinued beer in the gas station, which Snapper overpays for. Back in the ship, Bethany insists on going about twenty years into her future, so she can see how her relationship with Hourman turns out. He doesn’t want to, but has no choice but to give in. When they land on a roof, Sticky is upset that they aren’t doing anything more interesting on their trip, and when everyone else leaves, Togg and Torcher try to sway Sticky to their point of view. When he sees what happened to Amazo, he joins them. Future Bethany speaks to her husband about how she doesn’t want to speak to her past self, but ends up opening the door to her anyway. Bethany is very upset to learn that she is destined to marry Officer Gary, and runs out. In the 853rd century, Rex Tyler is visited by the Batman of that time. After a short fight, spurred on by the way Batman has spiked Rex’s Miraclo (he’s made it so that it paralyzes Rex’s defenses against new ideas), they talk about what Hourman has been up to in the past (kind of suggesting that the two eras work in parallel, not that everything Hourman is doing is already finished). When he sees how Hourman behaves, Rex figures he needs to junk him.
- In 1969, Rex Tyler is generally pretty unhappy, as is his wife Wendi. He keeps disappearing on weekends, and shows up on Mondays with no memory of where he’s been, utterly exhausted, and suffering from a sense that everyone in his life is going to disappoint him. He goes to see his friend Dr. Fate, who finds nothing wrong with him. Fate, as Kent Nelson, goes to hang out at Tyler’s house on a Friday, and is surprised to find that when he goes to the bathroom, Tyler disappears completely. In reality, Rex is brought to the 853rd century by the android Foreman, who was called Boss when we last saw him, where he’s been running Tyler Chemorobotics. Rex remembers that he’s very angry with our Hourman. At that time (at least in the story, which jumps all around time), Hourman is still travelling with Snapper and their friends, although their road trip sounds a little boring. Hourman disappears, and is brought to the 853rd century, where he discovers that Rex reprogrammed him. They fight for a bit, and Hourman is confused, since he has Rex’s memories inside him. He figures out what’s been going on and freezes Rex in time before turning on Foreman, pointing out that as the descendant, both genetically and in terms of memory, of Rex Tyler, Foreman is his possession. Hourman sends Rex back to his time, where he feels alright, and embraces his wife.
- Snapper and the others are stranded in the timestream after Hourman’s Timeship has run aground. They don’t know if he’s coming back, or how to get home, and so temper and relationships are frayed. Snapper gets annoyed with everyone and storms off, while Bethany continues to feel weird about learning that she is destined to marry Gary. Weirdly, Audrey is happy about this, as she sees Gary as a better choice for her daughter than Snapper or Hourman. Torcher and Dr. Togg decide they should fix the ship, and when the Chief tries to stop them, Torcher burns her. Gary fires at them, and is stopped by Bethany; she gets Togg to reveal his fear that Hourman is working against them, based on what they saw he did to Amazo. Audrey suggests that attaching Amazo’s head to the Timeship (instead of just mounting it as a hood ornament) might give them access to his time powers. Hourman wakes Snapper from a nap, and they talk after Snapper gets Hourman to drink a little coffee, even though it makes him go kind of crazy for a moment or two. They talk, and Hourman confirms that he is going to be leaving his friends, because he wants to mentor and change Amazo the way Snapper changed and mentored him. Snapper is surprised, but Hourman talks about how when he was “Hourmazo”, he tried hard to be a hero, and is even the one responsible for Snapper’s book getting published. Before Hourman can depart for this mission, Amazo shows up, having been turned back on by Togg. Realizing that Amazo is in an evil mode again, Hourman immediately teleports all of his friends back to Happy Harbour. He heads off to deal with Amazo, and Snapper closes the series with some more narration about how he hopes to be friends with Hourman again one day.
This was a remarkable series, both in terms of its quality, and in terms of how impossible it has become for a book this introspective and weird to last twenty-five issues in today’s market. Tom Peyer told one long story over the two years that this book ran – a story about a young android finding its self-confidence.
To do this, a ton of prominent characters rolled through the book, and it developed a large supporting cast, but for the most part, this book was really about the relationship between Hourman and Snapper Carr, and how this slacker helped humanize the robot. Along the way, this book also worked to fix some continuity things around Snapper and the Hourman legacy, making it possible for Rick Tyler to take on the Hourman mantle in JSA.
I’ve always loved DC’s approach to legacy heroes (at least up until New 52 kind of ruined that long history), and how they were forever expanding the reaches of who could use a certain storied name.
My biggest complaint about this book has to do with the concept, dictated by Grant Morrison’s run on JLA, of the 853rd century. That’s a ridiculously far-flung time. Usually, in the DC Universe, the Legion of Super-Heroes’s 31st century serves as a kind of ceiling, and that makes sense – society has become much more intergalactically pluralistic, technology has improved a great deal, but things are more or less the same. The 853rd century is so far into the future as to be inconceivable, yet things appear more or less as they do in the Legion’s time. To put things in some context, this is as far into the future as our time is from some of the first humans to begin migrating out of Africa, in the Middle Paleolithic Era. Nothing about our lives would be recognizable to them, yet in Morrison and Peyer’s 853rd, things seem pretty normal, and we learn that robots are built on an assembly line by other robots. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, really.
Aside from that, I found this book to be delightful. Peyer works on Hourman’s character, making him grow visibly over the course of the book, but also pushes Snapper to grow up in a few ways as well.
Rags Morales’s art is just great – he really portrays his characters’ emotions well, while also keeping things dynamic and exciting. I don’t know what Morales is up to these days, or why he never became a bigger name than he did (although, to be honest, his run on Action Comics with Grant Morrison was nowhere near as interesting visually as this series was).
I really do wish there were more comics like this one – quiet slice-of-life titles that can only exist within the context of a larger shared universe. Marvel and DC don’t do books like this anymore, and no other publisher has the history or multiplicity of characters and legacy to be able to pull something like this off. It was a real good read.
I’m going to take a brief hiatus for the rest of June, and stop digging through my longboxes for a bit (June is an incredibly busy month for me). When I come back, I’ll try to have something dazzling for you to make it worth the wait…
If you’d like to see the archives of all of my retro review columns, click here.
It looks like this series has never yet been collected in trade paperback. Good luck hunting down the issues!
Tags: Hourman, Retro Reviews