Written by Joel T. Lewis
In the past I have expressed that I avoid following massive comic book events in general. In fact, I have never followed one month to month. The time, finances, and publisher loyalty required to read everything in the Flashpoint storyline or World War Hulk for instance are not available to me. That being said, when they announced the DC Rebirth event I was intrigued by the idea that the DC Universe would become intertwined with the Watchmen Universe, but I didn’t rush out to buy every Rebirth issue. Actually, the reason I picked up All-Star Batman was that it had very little to nothing to do with the Rebirth storyline. But now months later, (20 issues of Batman later) author Tom King and artist Jason Fabok have finally begun unravelling the mystery at the heart of the Rebirth event: where did the Comedian’s button come from, and how did it wind up in the Batcave?
I’ve been really curious to discover how the creators at DC plan to bridge the gap between these two comic universes so I bit the bullet and jumped on issue 21 of Batman. I was sold on the storyline, but the super-cool holofoil cover didn’t hurt either! That being said what I found inside issue 21 more than delivered on the promise of the holofoil cover. Issue 21 begins with Batman watching a Gotham vs Metropolis hockey game. He’s in the Batcave running an analysis on the button he found embedded in the wall of his lair and when he tosses the button onto his desk it sparks in reaction with another artifact. As a result, the Thomas Wayne Batman from the Flashpoint alternate reality appears and calls out to Bruce. Batman contacts the Flash to help him investigate the disruption this causes in the Speed Force. The Flash is in the midst of a huge brawl and tells Batman that he’ll be there in a minute. One second later, a speedster appears, but it’s not the Flash. Reverse Flash, who died along with the rest of the alternate reality characters from the Flashpoint event, appears and attacks Batman. He notices the note Thomas Wayne wrote Bruce from that alternate timeline and mocks Batman as he rips it to shreds.
Now, I’m not an advocate of Batman killing anybody, but after that heart-rending panel I would’ve looked the other way if Bruce were to beat the speedster till his costume resembled the normal Flash’s crimson tint. The fight that follows Reverse Flash crossing that line is one of the best I’ve ever seen in comic books. Now I have little to no interest in the Flash or his villains, but I imagine one of the difficulties that arises when illustrating a super-fast character in a comic book would be avoiding making every feature blurry and stretched to convey how fast that character is moving. This issue masterfully conveys the speed with which Reverse Flash beats the hell out of Batman by dividing each panel into one-second-long intervals with a simple timestamp at the bottom. Batman knows he has to play for time waiting for the arrival of Flash so the only weapons he can fight Reverse Flash with are delay tactics.
At one-point, Batman uses a Batarang to pin Reverse Flash’s foot to the floor of the Batcave and proceeds to even the score of what had been a pretty one-sided fight. As the minute ticks down to zero Batman eases up momentarily in anticipation of Flash’s arrival but the speedster is late and Reverse Flash lands a furious final blow. Leaving the crumpled Dark Knight on the floor, Reverse Flash picks up the button and is transported out of the Batcave. When he returns, the villain’s side is burned down to the bone and he screams 'I saw God!' The Flash finally arrives to find both Batman and Reverse Flash collapsed on the floor of the Batcave.
Like I said, I’m not a Flash fan, but this issue’s storyline is said to continue in issue 21 of the current Flash series and you can bet that I’ll be picking that one up the day it comes out. This is an outstanding issue and a great jumping on point for the 2017 Batman series though it would be helpful to have some familiarity with the Flashpoint storyline. That being said, you can get the general plot points of that event from the DC animated movie 'Flashpoint' instead of tracking down every issue in that massive arc. Until next time, Geek On!