“The Button” has so far delivered an intriguing story that furthers the mystery that Batman and Flash have been trying to solve since DC Rebirth. Their investigation turned an even more interesting twist as Batman and Flash journey through the multiverse has taken them to the Flashpoint Universe. In taking them to the Flashpoint Universe it means we are going to see the big return of Thomas Wayne as Batman. Will the “reunion” of Bruce and Thomas Wayne lead to a heartfelt father-son moment? Or will it lead to an even greater mystery all together?
Story Writers: Joshua Williamson and Tom King
Script Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Jason Fabok
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Thomas Wayne thinks back to the war between Wonder Woman and Aquaman and how all he wanted was to save his son. At the time Flash showed up and gave him hope that his nightmare of a world would die along with him.
Now Thomas finds himself in the Batcave still alive and now being hunted Wonder Woman and Aquaman, who have agreed to work together to take down Batman. Thomas is prepared to go out fighting, having set up explosives throughout Wayne Manor.
Just as he is about to hit the detonator Bruce Wayne as Batman and Flash appear in Thomas’ Batcave. Bruce and Flash find a gun in a case that killed Flashpoint Bruce and Martha Wayne.
Thomas confronts Bruce and believes that he and Flash are just some sort of trick. Flash tries to say it isn’t a trick but Thomas grabs Flash and yells out that this isn’t real. Flash breaks free and says that he was able to repair the timeline but something happened that caused the Flashpoint Universe to not be erased.
As Wonder Woman and Aquaman’s soldiers search Wayne Manor, Flash detects that the Flashpoint Universe is not an alternate world or timeline and that it is real, adding to his confusion. Flash detects something is holding the Flashpoint Universe together almost like it is trying to haunt them.
Thomas asks Bruce why he isn’t looking at him. Before he can get an answer Flash says he needs to fix the Cosmic Treadmill. Thomas tells Flash to work fast as Wonder Woman and Aquaman’s soldiers have found them.
Thomas gets his gun out but Bruce hits it out of his hand. Bruce says they will fight together. Bruce and Thomas put on their cowls and get ready to fight since the Batcave has no defenses.
As the two Batman fight off all of their attackers Flash works quickly to put the Cosmic Treadmill together. Just as the two Batmen finish off the last of the soldiers Flash finishes repairs on the Cosmic Treadmill.
Thomas asks Bruce if he remembers what he told him when he rescued Bruce from the cave as a kid. Bruce says he remembers Thomas whispering because he didn’t want Bruce to be scared.
Flash says they have to get going just as the Flashpoint Universe starts getting erased.
Bruce tells Thomas that his letter was the greatest gift anyone gave him and reveals that he has a son and Thomas is a grandfather. Flash tells Bruce to hurry up. Bruce tries to get Thomas to come with them. Thomas instead pushes Bruce into Flash.
Thomas reminds Flash on his promise to save his son. Bruce and Flash plead for Thomas to come with them. Thomas tells Bruce he is his world and knows every choice he has made has been the right one because Bruce is the greatest gift his life has given him. Thomas tells Bruce to not be “Batman” but rather find happiness for himself and be a father to his son (Damian Wayne). He then tells Bruce to let Batman die with him just as the Cosmic Treadmill teleports Bruce and Flash away.
Thomas throws the detonator away and puts on his cowl as the Flashpoint Universe gets erased around him. Thomas walks through the Batcave and remembers what he told Bruce in the cave when he was young that Wayne’s never stay down and will always rise. Batman jumps into the light as the Flashpoint Universe is completely erased.
Inside the Speed Force, Batman tells Flash that there must be a way to return to the Flashpoint Universe but Flash says there isn’t as the timestream around them is coming undone. Batman asks about why the Button showed up at his cave only to bring him to his father and take him away. Flash says he doesn’t know why they ended up at the Flashpoint Universe.
Flash and Batman suddenly run into the version Reverse Flash after he took the Button from Batman. Flash and Batman understand who this version of Reverse Flash is and try to chase him down before he dies.
Reverse Flash confidently tells Flash that there he knows the owner of the Button does not stand a chance against him. End of issue.
The Good: Batman #22 is an issue that is made up of a great moment that will put a smile on Batman fans faces. That moment, as great as it is, unfortunately does not further the actually story that “The Button” is trying to tell. In that way Batman #22 turns out to be a double edge sword drawn onto itself.
Ever since Flashpoint Batman was introduced to the world the idea of Thomas Wayne meeting the main universe Bruce Wayne was always something I’ve hoped would happen. That big fan moment is exactly what Tom King and Joshua Williamson deliver on. Using the Button as a key to bringing Bruce to the Flashpoint Universe to meet his father, Thomas, who took on the Batman identity was a great connection. As with the Button it allowed Flash to act as a conduit for King and Williamson’s explanation as to why the Flashpoint Universe still exists even though it is not officially part of the DC Multiverse.
This interaction between Bruce and Thomas is made even sweeter thanks to Williamson’s tight scripting of both character’s dialogue throughout this issue. Having Bruce not be able to look his father in the eye at first was an effective way to further Thomas’ current mind set that things are coming to an end for him. That allowed the moment when Bruce knocked the gun out of Thomas’ hand to be even greater. In the small act Bruce was able to give Thomas hope again and showed how his son is different from him.
Seeing both versions of Batman fighting side-by-side was just fantastic. The choreography was on point and helped show how even if these two versions never met it did not take away from their bond. That bond made Thomas pushing Bruce into Flash and not leaving with them an even more powerful moment. Especially with Thomas telling Bruce to be a father to his son was very emotional and creates an interesting new sub-plot for all Batman comics moving forward. Because Bruce has never been the best father to Damian or his adopted children but this may be the torch that lights the fatherhood fire inside Bruce.
Jason Fabok once again delivered a fantastic looking issue. Fabok nailed the little differences between Bruce and Thomas to get over how they each carry their own distinct aura as Batman. The quick fight with Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s forces was a sight to see as it delivered on everything a Batman fan could want from seeing Bruce and Thomas fighting together as a team. Fabok also does a great job showing off the power of the Speed Force as a constant source of energy.
The Bad: The problem with Batman #22 is that it is just one big moment and nothing else. As much as I love seeing Bruce and Thomas Wayne interacting with each other as a Batman fan it did nothing to further “The Button” story. And with this Batman/Flash crossover being a four part story this type of break is not needed whatsoever. Especially given that the previous two issues didn’t actually show us that Batman and Flash got further in their investigation this type of side story felt more like a distraction than actual progression.
That lack of story progression is the biggest problem of Batman #22. It almost felt as though in trying to deliver a big moment between Bruce and Thomas that the investigation of the Button was forgotten. While I understand that it would be an important moment for the two characters it is something that did nothing to actually add to “The Button” investigation. It’s in not adding to the investigation that makes you realize that we aren’t really going to get much done. And even if we do get more details on the Watchmen Button it is putting a lot of pressure on Flash #22 to deliver on what the first three issues of the crossover did not.
But given that we saw Reverse Flash in the moment before his death at the hands of Doctor Manhattan there was definitely a feeling that we are just running in circles. Because with this ending it is now not hard to see how “The Button” arc will end with Batman and Flash back in the Batcave a few seconds after they left as Reverse Flash’s death is not something they can stop. Even if they try to stop Reverse Flash’s death it won’t be believable as Batman and Flash have no idea what they are up against or have learned anything new from the Button. That fact makes what has occurred in these first three issues feel like we’ve barely moved a few centimeters in the Button investigation.
Overall: Batman fans are going absolutely love the scenes between Bruce and Thomas Wayne that Joshua Williamson and Tom King delivered in Batman #22. Unfortunately the fact that there has been very little in the way of plot progressions makes it feel like “The Button” crossover is not going to accomplish anything of substance. There is still one issue left to provide a satisfactory ending to “The Button” crossover but Batman #22 did not do anything to build confidence that will actually occur.