Flash (vol.5) #21 (June, 2017)
“The Button, Part Two”
Script – Joshua Williamson
Art – Howard Porter
Colors – Hi-Fi
Letters – Steve Wands
Assistant Editor – Amedeo Turturro
Editor – Brian Cunningham
Special Thanks – Geoff Johns & Tom King
Cover Price: $2.99
It isn’t often these days where I am tempted to “double dip” on any issue in particular. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned a time or two that I order my books from Discount Comic Book Services… a great way of getting my books, however… with shipping, comes delay.
I was actually quite tempted to pick this one up off the racks to ensure I wasn’t spoiled… plus, I’ve been chomping at the bit to read it regardless! Guess that speaks to the quality of what came before!
So, does The Button keep with the quality? Let’s find out…
The issue opens with Johnny Thunder standing on the roof of his retirement home during a thunderstorm. He is calling out “Cei-U”… when the orderlies arrive to escort him back to his roof, he panics… shouting that it’s his fault the Justice Society is lost. We shift to the Batcave, where the Flash has set up a crime scene around the burnt corpse of Thawne. He thinks to himself that his mother’s murder has been avenged… he then wonders why it doesn’t feel as satisfying as perhaps it should.
He conducts a scan of the corpse, and is shocked to learn that it is covered in his (Barry’s) own unique energy signature. He wonders if he is somehow responsible… or if perhaps he will be. Barry checks in with Alfred before heading upstairs to chat with Bruce. They discuss the event… Before Thawne went to pieces, he claimed to have seen God (with a capital G). They then discuss the blood smear on the Button… and how it doesn’t match any of the Alphabet-Agencies’ records.
Barry asks for some clarification on the reaction between the Button and Psycho Pirate’s Medusa Mask… Bruce tells him about briefly seeing his father. Flash is skeptical, but willing to give his partner the benefit of the doubt. We learn that the Button is now missing… and Flash mentions recently receiving a vision of a Helmet of Mercury. He then heads off to investigate some more.
All the way to the Justice League’s Watchtower… and into it’s bad-ass Lost and Found. Now I am always a sucker for panels like this. There’s just so much to pore over… that “everything matters” tone really resonates in images such as this.
Barry thinks back to the night Wally West (the real one) returned, and the discussion they had about their unseen threat. He runs past some more lost ‘n found stuff… including costumes for Justice Society members, Star-Spangled Kid and Hourman. Hmm, thought they never existed? Anyhoo, he decides his best bet might just be traveling through time. And so, he yanks a tarp which reveals… the Cosmic Treadmill! Heyyy, that’s a pretty cool name for… something.
Just as he’s about to mount and run, he is interrupted by a staggering Batman. He won’t let Barry go alone… and Barry begrudgingly agrees to take him along. What follows is… well, really amazing for longtime DC Comics fans. We see “alternate realities” such as the origin of the Justice League… the real origin, of the real Justice League… Martian Manhunter and all. We get a scene which was revealed to us during Identity Crisis in which Zatanna mindwipes Batman. We also see a take on Barry’s death during Crisis on Infinite Earths. Every. Thing. Matters.
They continue to run… until they are suddenly blasted by a bolt of lightning! They manage to hold onto the Treadmill and are ultimately dropped… back in the Batcave? Well, technically… yeah. But this ain’t your daddy’s Batcave… it’s actually Bruce’s daddy’s Batcave! Welcome to the Flashpoint Universe, hope we survive the experience!
Well, damn. I loved this.
Before we go into the story, I really want to express my happiness regarding the format this story is being released in. Having it just be Batman and Flash crossing over, without a whole lot of hoopla… really makes me glad to be a fan of DC Comics. If something like this was put out by Marvel, you could be assured we’d be paying at least five-dollars per issue… and we’d have to buy about a half-dozen crossover issues each month to get it all. We’d have the Uncanny Button, the Unworthy Button, the Astonishing Button… friggin’ Occupy Button, and so on.
With that out of the way… let’s get down to unpacking. Starting at the beginning, it’s really nice seeing the Johnny Thunder/Justice Society plot being picked up again. It’s pretty much a certainty that they’ll be back sooner than later… and I really can’t wait. Whenever the JSA comes up, I can’t help but to mention that they really help the DC heroes feel like a family. They always have such heart… and I love the idea of their being an entire generation of heroes that even people like Superman and Batman look at with awe and respect. Can’t wait!
I really dug Barry setting up the Batcave as a crime scene. It shows that he is more than just a guy who runs real fast. This is important to fans, such as myself, who grew up with Wally West (the real one) as their Flash. We would hear mention of Barry… Saint Barry, rather, but he always felt so dull when compared with Wally. At least to me, anyway. Showing Barry as a forensic scientist and superhero simultaneously shows me that he can offer things that Wally couldn’t.
Barry’s discovery of his own energy signature on Thawne is surely something we will be revisiting… especially in light of how he kept it from Batman. I can’t tell if Batman already knows Barry’s keeping something from him… but it wouldn’t surprise me.
During their chat, Batman says something… it’s almost a throwaway… but it’s wildly intriguing. He posits that “… whatever messed with time was doing so long before the Flashpoint.” That gives me a tickle in the continuity lobe in my brain. I gotta wonder how far back they’re going to dredge for discrepancies and “anomalies” to suit this narrative. I love the idea… and really hope that it’s leading to something.
Speaking of dredging… how about that Hall of Lost and Found, eh? So many neat things from DC’s past show up here… Skeets, the Dial H for Hero dial, Jack Knight’s Cosmic Rod… such a great panel, which totally should have been stretched to a two-page spread.
It’s always cool to have a Cosmic Treadmill sighting, right? And, the ride… ooh boy, we saw some stuff. Martian Manhunter as a founding member of the League… Superman in his trunks… Identity Crisis… I definitely wasn’t expecting to see that!
The “surprise cliffhanger”, which had been long spoiled by the cover to the next issue of Batman, was okay. I guess seeing Thomas and Bruce face-to-face would have been a bit cooler, had they not met during Convergence. Even if Convergence “never happened”, we’ve already seen it. I’m sure they’ll make it work… and I’m also pretty sure that I’ll be captivated with each turn of the page. Despite my aversion to all things Flashpoint, I’m still looking forward to it.
I’m not sure I ever shared my idea for the ending of Flashpoint. Suppose I might as well. I thought it would be really cool if, while all the Universes were imploding and intertwining, Thomas Wayne was somehow able to meet with and talk to our Batman. He could tell him how proud he is… how much he loves him… how much he treasures the few moments they have as everything goes all New-52. The scene would end, and our Batman would unmask… and it would be Dick Grayson, who was one of the cape and cowl types back then. What happens after that? I didn’t really give it much thought. Ehh, it sounded more poignant in my head.
I probably ought to mention the art. I was very pleased to see that Howard Porter would be a part of this, I’ve always enjoyed his work… especially when paired with Hi-Fi Colors! Porter and Hi-Fi are/were the best part of the Scooby Apocalypse series, and they bring their top quality work to this tale.
Anyhoo… overall, The Button still comes highly recommended. Even though this isn’t an overpriced, bloated “event” series, it feels incredibly important to the DC Universe going forward. Questions are being answered… and more questions are being raised. There is an eye to the future, while not ignoring the past. Everything matters, and it’s pretty great. Books like this make me happy to be a comic book fan.