Flash (vol.5) #22 (July, 2017)
“The Button, Part Four”
Script – Joshua Williamson
Art – Howard Porter
Color – Hi-Fi
Letters – Steve Wands
Assistant Editor – Amedeo Turturro
Editor – Brian Cunningham
Special Thanks – Geoff Johns & Tom King
Cover Price: $2.99
It’s funny when I think about spoilers as though they actually matter. Whenever I review a recent (or even a semi-recent) issue, I make sure to note that my piece includes spoilers when I share them on social media.
In the past two weeks, however, I feel as though I’ve been spoiled… just by the covers of these books! We had the Cyborg Superman reveal on the cover of Action Comics… and hey, don’t look now, but I think that’s Jay Garrick on this very cover!
DC’s kinda silly… just last month they were doing whatever they could to keep the Mr. Mxyzptlk reveal under wraps (though folks on social media had no qualms about ruining that for folks anyway)… and now, we’re spoiled before even cracking the book open.
Picking up where we left off, Batman and Flash are chasing a button-holding Thawne through the timestream. He refers to some old (pre-Crisis, even) events between he and the heroes, and threatens to remake time in his own image… sorta. As they continue their run, a faint voice calls out to Barry.
Bruce can hear it too, however Barry writes it off as yet another “siren call of hypertime”, like the voices of his mother and Iris. Thawne decides to continue being an ass by threatening to change time so that he would be Barry’s guardian… and raise him to be his acolyte. The Cosmic Treadmill begins to fall apart just as Thawne reaches his destination.
And it’s a good thing too… because where Thawne winds up, isn’t very nice.
Back in the timestream/speed force/wherever, Barry and Bruce hear Thawne’s final scream… and they continue to hear that whisper of a voice… which identifies itself as “Jay”. No sooner does Barry say “Jay” than…
Jay Garrick emerges and pulls the heroes through the stream and back into the Batcave. He identifies himself as a friend… and a Flash, and implores Barry to remember him… just like he did Wally. Unfortunately, this is one speedster Barry doesn’t seem to recognize. And so, Jay is pulled back.
We jump ahead to Barry and Bruce standing at the graves of the elder Waynes, considering the Thawne-Effect on everything that has gone down. They also discuss Thawne’s claiming to have seen a “God”… and weigh the possibilities of continuing down this path.
That night, the Bat-Signal hangs in the skies of Gotham… however, Bruce isn’t quick to answer it. He thinks about the last words his father said to him in the Flashpoint Universe… to have is own life, to find happiness, and to let Batman die with him. I’m guessing this “down time” will be short lived.
Elsewhere… the Comedian’s Button is picked up by a bright… blue… hand.
The issue, and story ends with a two-page epilogue featuring a pair of nine-panel grids in which the Button draws ever closer to the “camera”… when it draws back we see the familiar Superman symbol. Looks like Clark’s about to get dragged into this too. Well, in about six months anyway.
In a word… underwhelming.
After so much build up… both in and out of story for this issue… and all we get is a tease for a story that won’t even begin for six months. I gotta wonder if this was always the intent… or if maybe Geoff Johns realized he could fit in some comic writing toward the end of the year, and things changed to accommodate him. I’m not going to go in too deep about the Tim Drake stuff, as that was all changed between the time comps went out, and finished product hit the stands… but it stands to reason that there are many moving parts we’re not aware of at play in DC’s war rooms (nor, I suppose, should we be).
I guess it’s hard to be too angry… this isn’t the Marvel way of connecting crossovers or anything. We didn’t just waste upwards of $50-100 and six to eight months of our lives reading something that won’t pay off until three crossovers from now… we just read a crossover between two titles. If not for the incessant real-world hype, this would have been not unlike any other day at the office for Batman and Flash.
So, as for the issue itself… whatta we got? Well, like real-Wally before him, Jay Garrick fights his way out of the speed force… however, unlike real-Wally, Barry proves not to be his “lightning rod”. Was this just fan service… or is Jay still on the table? I hope this isn’t the last we see of him… and I sorta doubt that it will be. Just as long as we don’t see that New-52 Earth-2 version, I’ll be cool.
I get the feeling that they thought the closing page with the blue hand picking up the Button was supposed to be some sort of epic reveal… but, c’mon… we’re a year into Rebirth, and from day one… we all knew this was Dr. Manhattan… right? I mean, that wasn’t just me, right? Definitely a let down… we didn’t even get to see his face… not that it would have made it any bigger a “reveal” or anything.
The epilogue… hmm… well, it ends with an announcement of the upcoming Doomsday Clock storyline… with Superman front and center. The sound you just heard was my stomach tying itself in a knot. I mean, we just got Superman back… are they gonna screw with him already? Please tell me they’re not gonna screw with him already! Just whisper it in my ear… I won’t tell anyone.
Overall, this is a vital piece of Rebirth-reading, however, one that I feel doesn’t quite deliver on the hype that proceeded it. The writing here is great, really enjoy Williamson’s dialogue and storytelling… and the art is fantastic. Absolutely adore any collaboration between Howard Porter and Hi-Fi coloring. It really makes any book they are on feel extra special. Despite my reservations, I think I’d lean toward a recommendation.