Batman (vol.3) #21 (June, 2017)
"The Button, Part One"
Script -Tom King
Pencils & Inks - Jason Fabok
Colors - Brad Anderson
Letters - Deron Bennett
Associate Editor - Rebecca Taylor
Editor - Mark Doyle
Cover Price: $2.99
Hard to believe it's almost been a year since we saw Batman find that bloody button in the Batcave. I don't think any of us saw that coming... and I doubt if anyone had any idea where it was headed.
Looks like we're about to find out.
Should go without saying what follows the double-dashes is gonna be SPOILERY.
Our story opens with some Arkham Asylum inmates gathered around a television about to enjoy a hockey game between the Gotham Blades and the Metropolis Mammoths. A blonde inmate, who is probably Saturn Girl, begins to panic... something is coming, and nothing can stop it. Everyone will die, including... the Legion? We shift scenes to the Batcave, where it looks like Batman is finally about to start looking into the Comedian's button.
He's also watching the same Gotham/Metropolis hockey game on one of his monitors... a fight breaks out, and it is pretty intense! Lotsa blood on the ice. He sets the button down on his console right next to the mask of the Psycho Pirate... and there is some electrical reaction between the two. It causes Batman to fall back, and when his fog clears, for a brief moment he sees his father... from the Flashpoint Universe!
Batman decides to contact the Flash to further discuss the button. Barry tells Bruce that he's currently engaged, but he'll be there in about a minute. Three seconds later, an altogether different Flash appears before Batman.
The Reverse-Flash introduces himself... then proceeds to spend the next several seconds beating the holy hell out of the Batman. Like, really and truly... beating the hell out of him. With Bruce on the ground, Thawne finds the note Flashpoint-Thomas wrote to Rebirth-Bruce. He laughs... and gleefully tears it to bits.
As one might imagine, Batman doesn't really appreciate that... and so, he decides to start fighting back. Initially, it's futile... Thawne's vibrations don't allow him to be touched. Batman figures out a "work around" by plunging a batarang into the baddie's foot.
From here the fight is a bit more even, but Reverse-Flash still has the upper hand. Batman finally slumps to the ground, at the very moment Barry Allen was to arrive. Thawne picks up the Comedian's button... and blinks out of view for a moment. Upon return, he proclaims that he'd seen God... all they while, his body degenerates.
The chapter ends with Barry Allen arriving at the Batcave. He apologizes for his tardiness, and explains that the hockey fight ended in a fatality. He is shocked to find the battered bodies of Batman and Thawne on the ground.
Well, hell... yeah, this felt pretty big, didn't it?
I gotta say, between The Button and Superman Reborn, DC has been bringing it with the "event" feel. I only wish there was more to read here... but, if the worst thing I can say about a book is that I can't wait to read the next chapter... we're doing pretty good, right?
This really felt like a proper follow-up to DC Universe Rebirth #1. I will say that I was a bit trepidacious when this was announced without Geoff Johns in the writer's chair... but Tom King knocked this out of the park. Jason Fabok... well, this dude's just a treasure. Absolutely excellent work here.
When I started reading this today, I really wasn't sure if I was gonna dig the "one-minute" gimmick... but it totally worked. It added a sense of urgency to the thing, and also served the nine-panel grid they were going with here. I suppose if we're gonna play with the Watchmen, we oughta go all the way, right?
The use of the Psycho Pirate mask was a neat touch. Back in Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man, the Pirate was institutionalized in Arkham because he could still remember the multiverse/pre-Crisis DC Universe. So, if this story sets to weave disparate eras of DC Continuity together... or at least make them flow in an easy to swallow kinda way, it makes sense that the Medusa Mask would cause a reaction with the Comedian's Button. At least it makes sense to me...
The use of Reverse-Flash feels like a way to help link Flashpoint into the mix, which is fair enough to me. The next-issue blurb promises to reveal who killed Thawne, so I gotta wonder if we're gonna be seeing a whole lotta blue skin in the next few weeks!
Overall, if you read DC Comics, there's no reason why you wouldn't pick this up. This is the first week in I-don't-know-how-long that one of the Superman books wasn't on the tip-top of my reading pile... and after reading this, I think I can safely say that The Button will be the first book I read every week for the next few.