Feeling like a rushed and rather desperate publishing stunt by DC in an attempt to rationalise some of the dafter choices made during a fairly tough time in the publishing market, Zero Hour was designed to re-retool the DC universe a decade after Crisis on Infinite Earths. However, it’s just the tip of a veritable iceberg of crossovers, none of which are provided here. At least the tale can be read with little loss of narrative flow, but then why bother with all those other storylines, at all?

Monarch, the villain from Armageddon 2001, steals the power of time-traveling energy-being Waverider and evolves into the devilish Extant, thus beginning a plan to unmake time. As history catastrophically unravels from both ends, a small team of late 20th century champions struggle to save some semblance of reality. Prominently featured are the deaths of many favourite characters, and by the time the shooting’s all done, most surivors have a new and less contradictory history.

Jaded cynicism aside there’s fun to be had as the heroes fight bravely, and some genuinely moving choices to be made by the lead actors in the drama. Added menace is provided by the secret mastermind behind it all, and a lot of very good comics came about as a result of this conceptual spring-cleaning.

Not a classic, nor particularly relevant in the wake of the Infinite and/or Final Crises, this still provides a solid hit of action, angst and sacrifice. The superb art by Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway on the main story, and even the slightly more dated prequel segments by Frank Fosco and Ken Branch, make the end of the universe a treat for the eyes.

Not for the casual reader, perhaps but a worth a few precious moments of most fans’ time.