The concept of the “The Button” crossover between Batman and The Flash ongoing series certainly had a lot of promise. There have certainly been some very good moments during this crossover between Batman and The Flash. The meeting between the Bruce Wayne and the Flashpoint version of Thomas Wayne lived up to expectations. Unfortunately the lack of development around the investigation of the Watchmen Button has led this crossover to feel disappointing. Hopefully entering into the final chapter we get some development in the the actual investigation as Batman and Flash race after Reverse Flash. Let’s find out if that is the case with The Flash #22.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Howard Porter
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Inside the Speed Force, the Reverse Flash mocks Flash because he knows the owner of the Button and confidently says they aren’t as powerful as him. Flash tries to catch up to Reverse Flash and warn him that he is running to his death. Reverse Flash does not believe Flash as he believes himself to be a living paradox who has constantly escaped death.
A lightning built creates some separation between Reverse Flash and Flash and Batman.
As Flash and Batman continue to chase Reverse Flash a voice is calling out to Barry but he does not hear him.
Reverse Flash continues to mock Flash and says that he will eventually go back in time to take Barry in as a son when his parents die and make him his acolyte.
The Cosmic Treadmill ends up breaking giving Reverse Flash the chance to completely go off on his own and enters a portal.
Reverse Flash ends up somewhere in space. Reverse Flash confidently tells the owner of the Button to show himself. Doctor Manhattan shows himself to Reverse Flash from off screen. Reverse Flash is completely stunned by Doctor Manhattan’s presence and tells him to stay away. Reverse Flash body is struck by a blue beam, destroying his body and causing him to lose the Button.
Inside the Speed Force, Batman and Flash are holding onto the broke Cosmic Treadmill. Flash tries to grab Batman before the Cosmic Treadmill completely breaks into pieces but is unable to.
Suddenly Jay Garrick shows up and is able to save Batman and Flash by running them through the Speed Force and back to their universe.
Now back in the Batcave, Flash wonders who Jay is and what he wants with them. Jay introduces himself and mentions that he is Barry’s friend and a Flash. Jay says he needs Barry to remember him like Wally but Barry can’t as someone made him forget things.
Jay starts disappearing and says that someone took everything from him. He tries to get Barry to remember him but Barry can’t remember Jay’s name. When Barry tries to reach out but Jay is suddenly struck by a blue beam and completely disappears.
Batman and Flash are left stunned at what just happened. Batman theorizes that Jay came from another time or universe that does not exist like the Flashpoint version of his father. Flash thinks the same thing as they stare at Reverse Flash’s skeleton in the Batcave.
Sometime later, at Thomas and Martha Wayne’s graves Bruce mentions to Barry that they share similar backstories. Barry wonders if Reverse Flash is the one that caused everything and that his death is what triggered everything. Bruce understands that Barry wants to close their investigation quickly but it is far from over and that for now they need to look into what they know so far.
They walk out of the cemetery and while they do so Bruce mentions to Barry that everything they’ve been through can be an accident.
Above Earth a blue lightning bolt is shown.
Later that night Bruce is in Wayne Manor staring at the Batsymbol when it lights up. Bruce thinks about what the Flashpoint version of his father told him about letting Batman die with him. Alfred approaches Bruce and asks if Bruce is okay. Bruce stays silent.
Elsewhere, Doctor Manhattan finds the Comedian’s Button and picks it up as he remembers what he told Silk Specter about being puppets and how he can see the puppet strings.
In an epilogue the Comedian’s Button floats through space. The blood on the Button starts coming off. Suddenly Superman’s ‘S’ shield on his chest is shown.
We then see a quote from August Stringdberg, “There are poisons that blind you, and poisons that open your eyes,” closes the issue.
The Good: In terms of plot progressions The Flash #22 was a big step up from what we got in the last two issues of “The Button.” Keeping things focused on Batman and Flash made the moments we got feel satisfying. At the same time there was an empty feeling in terms of what was actually accomplished.
One of the things that I will give “The Button” crossover credit is how Tom King and Joshua Williamson maintained a consistent voice for Batman and Flash’s character that is in line with their individual ongoing comics. Williamson shows that consistency with how he portrayed Batman and Flash. That portrayal made Batman being placed into the role of getting Flash head around what is going on even more believable. This role made the final scene with Bruce looking out a window and not answering Alfred even more powerful.
Seeing the two play a role where they were in a vulnerable position of being unable to stop Reverse Flash and have to try to survive in the Speed Force help build their bond. Now with this experience together it is clear that Batman and Flash’s bond goes beyond just having similar backstories and being detectives.
This position that Williamson put Batman and Flash in made Jay Garrick’s surprise arrival a great fanboy moment. Having that character be the one to save the day was great. Making the events of this issue more powerful is the fact that unlike Wally, Barry wasn’t able to help bring Jay back to this DC Universe. That failure added weight to what is going on in the greater DCU involving Doctor Manhattan. It also brings into question what other missing characters outside the ones we’ve seen, like Tim Drake, have been taken out by Doctor Manhattan and Mr. Oz.
The teaser for the upcoming Doomsday Clock was also well integrated from The Button crossover. Having the Comedian’s Button be the trigger to get Doctor Manhattan is an interesting way to finally bring him to the forefront. Given that Superman will play a crucial role in the event it does make you wonder what kind of battle they will end up having.
Howard Porter once again turned in a good looking issue of Flash. There were some moments where Porter over inked certain panels but it did not get in the way of the story. With the first half of the issue taking place in the Speed Force, Porter got across how dangerous the place Batman and Flash were in. That danger made Jay Garrick’s appearance feel epic as he pushed both heroes to safety.
The Bad: As strong as the character portrayal was it did not feel like we got a lot of progression to the story. Though we got cool moments like Bruce meeting the Flashpoint version of his father and Jay Garrick saving the day before disappearing, there was no actual progression in the investigation of the Button. It makes Batman and Flash look slightly weak as detective as they weren’t able to discover anything new.
Having Batman and Flash basically return to the point they left with Reverse Flash dead body on the floor of the Batcave also makes it look like they did not accomplish anything. Rather they just sort of reset themselves and are in the same spot as before. This is where King and Williamson should’ve at least given them some sort of detail, like Tim Drake being imprisoned by Mr. Oz, to make it feel like something was accomplished. As it stands, there wasn’t anything done and made the cool moments not go beyond just being moments and be crucial to the investigation.
Given that we already knew what Reverse Flash’s fate was there was very little anticipation to seeing him race to Doctor Manhattan. There was nothing really new added to Reverse Flash’s scenes as he was given similar dialogue when he returned to the Batcave as he was dying. Because of that Reverse Flash’s role in the story felt like a waste and only used a plot device to revisit Flashpoint and bring in Jay Garrick.
It is also unfortunate that the cover completely gave away Jay Garrick’s return. I wish that they would’ve save the reveal of the character to the interior of the issue and possibly make The Flash #22 cover an alternate or 2nd printing cover. But since Jay was on the main cover there was a lack of surprise factor in the character’s big moment when he initially appeared.
Overall: As a DC Comics fan there were a lot of very cool moments that made The Flash #22 an enjoyable end to “The Button” crossover. The set-up for Doomsday Clock further built anticipation for Doctor Manhattan’s full appearance on screen. Unfortunately the fact that there was very little accomplished in Batman and Flash’s investigation did make a major plot point made the story feel unsatisfying.