Hour-Man Minute by Minute, Month by Month, Year by Year Jul 2, 2022 7:58:05 GMT -5 chadwilliam likes this
Post by M. W. Gallaher on Jul 2, 2022 7:58:05 GMT -5
Given how unromanticized Wagner is about this period, its people, and even The Sandman himself, it's interesting to see how well The Hourman makes the transition from the pages of Adventure Comics to Sandman Mystery Theatre. If, by this time, Wagner hadn't already exhibited an appreciation for more mainstream heroes such as Batman, one might be forgiven for suspecting that here is a creator who resented that the likes of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, took over from the pulp heroes who preceded them.
And yet he embraces so much of the character!
Wagner veers dangerously close to using Hourman as an example of what sort of collateral damage would follow in the wake of a man who takes it upon himself to wage a one-man war on crime, but I don't believe he ever crosses a line. The Kenton's continue to suffer at the hands of Jerry's "friends" even after Tyler intervenes on their behalf, but Wagner makes it clear that this is due to Jerry making one worst mistake possible after another after being advised against it by The Hourman. You've got to figure that whatever happens to the Kentons after this, it's a hell of a lot better after the end of this story than it was before.
Having spent about two and a half years deconstructing the superhero genre through his title character it's great seeing Wagner build it somewhat back up through The Hourman. At one point, Dodds expresses doubt that Tyler's pills produce anything more than a placebo effect upon the chemist - that his abilities are all in the mind. Such a rationalization could be used as a cynical starting point to re-introduce a character such as The Hourman into a dark, nasty "realistic" world but instead, Wagner embraces the idea and actually makes his hero suffer the blow of coming across as naïve in a world which does have room for wonder.
As you noted, Hourman is even more impressive here than in his original appearances - surviving gunshots and blows to the head - with one exception. I suspect that jumping off of roofs so that he can catch the crook he's just tossed off of it isn't in this Hourman's repertoire.
It's fitting that The Hourman should have run across The Sandman at some point. After all, what is which runs through an hourglass anyway?
One thing I appreciated about the brief inclusion of Hourman in the finale was that Seagle seemed to be confirming that yes, we really did intend for Hourman to be a counterpoint to the deconstructed, demystified, de-glorified hero: he's the "shiny knight errant" that he was originally intended to be. While an SMT-style series may not have been have been as satisfying approach for Hourman, it does make me dream of turning more of those Baily-era stories into updated period pieces, finding the foundation of a fun plot in those often awkward 8-pagers, incorporating more authentic social and period details and richer characterization, not just in an attempt to enshrine and explain the stories a la Roy Thomas, but to wring out some genuinely engaging comics. I don't see a place for that anymore, and it was a miracle that SMT provided such an environment for as long as it did.