The big crossover between Batman and The Flash comics kicked off by hitting all the right notes to make ‘The Button’ a story with incredible importance. Now after Tom King set things up for the rest of this crossover it is time for Joshua Williamson to pump his stamp on ‘The Button’ crossover. With Reverse Flash supposed death after meeting “God” ending Batman #21 there are a lot of answers to be had moving forward. Will Batman even be in any sort of state to help in the investigation after fighting Reverse Flash? Or is Flash now on his own to discover the secrets of the Watchmen Button? Let’s find out with Flash #21.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Howard Porter
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: As a storm gets worse an old man named Mr. Thunder yells for a thunderbolt to strike him. Some nurses drag Mr. Thunder back inside as he yells “We lost the Justice Society! It’s all my fault!”
At the Batcave, Flash has created a crime after he was able piece together what happened during Batman’s fight with Reverse Flash, whose dead body lies on the floor. As Flash thinks back to everything Reverse Flash has done he discovers traces of his energy signature around Reverse Flash’s corpse.
Flash checks on Alfred but the Batcave computers are still down.
Flash rushes off to check on Bruce Wayne, who is recovering from his injuries in his room. Bruce and Barry go over all the details of what happened, confirming that Reverse Flash in the Batcave is Thawne.
Bruce then brings up their investigation on the Button and Flash asks what he saw when it reacted to Psycho-Pirate’s mask. Bruce says he saw his father as a version of Batman. Flash believes that it may have been the Flashpoint version of Thomas Wayne and apologizes for being the cause of everything that has happened.
Bruce tells Barry that the timeline was messed with long before Barry did anything. Bruce then brings up how Thawne being attracted to the Button could not be a coincidence. Barry brings up how since Wally’s return he has seen visions of the Helmet of Mercury. Bruce thinks Barry is keeping something from him but Barry avoids things by rushing off to continue the investigation.
Flash teleports to the Justice League Watchtower. While entering the Watchtower’s “Hall of Lost and Found” Flash reveals along with traces of his Speed Force he also found the same radiation from the Button on Reverse Flash.
Flash thinks back to everything Wally told him and thinks how he doesn’t want to lose Wally again, which is why he isn’t involving him in the investigation.
Flash finally gets to where the Cosmic Treadmill is stored. Flash plans on using it to follow the Button’s radiation signature. As Flash steps on the treadmill Batman appears and says he is coming along. Flash thinks that is a bad idea due to the ramifications of messing with time. Batman says they are wasting time arguing and Flash starts running.
As Flash and Batman enter the Speed Force they see multiple versions of the Justice League, including a Flash telling a Batman to save everyone. Flash continues to run faster until they both end up falling.
Batman and Flash crash land inside a different version of the Batcave, that looks like the one Batman created when starting his career. Batman notices the gun that killed his parents and points out how he never found it. Flashpoint Batman suddenly appears and greets his son. End of issue.
The Good: After Batman #21 focused on Batman’s investigation into the Button it was time for us to see what Flash had to bring to the table. That is exactly what Joshua Williamson accomplishes with The Flash #21. Throughout this issue we see how Flash’s own way of investigating crime scenes compliment Batman’s research into the Button. Pushing things forward in this way allowed us to delve deeper into the mystery both detectives are trying to solve and delivered an ending that will help future issues of this crossover.
The Flash #21 worked as a perfect pairing for Batman #21 as in King’s issue we saw how cold and calculating Batman is during his investigation. On the other hand Williamson did not shy away from getting us inside his head and understand his entire thinking process. That difference in approach allowed us to get caught up in where Batman and Flash are in their investigation by the point Reverse Flash appeared.
At the same time, Williamson also pointed out how Batman and Flash share a very unique relationship. Further developing Batman and Flash’s special bond thanks to their shared interest criminal investigation gave us greater insight into why they’ve trusted each other so much. Even though Flash is very chatty he is the only one outside the Batman Family that Batman is able to connect with. That connection made how much the two trusted each other and didn’t get into big arguments about decisions to further their investigation.
Flash #21 also did a very good job at elevating the threat level that surrounds our heroes investigation. Flash mentioning he didn’t bring Wally into the investigation, even though he was the launching point for DC Rebirth, reminded us how much of a risk this all is. This made the effect of Batman and Flash seeing the changes made to their lives by Doctor Manhattan even more effective. It was a reminder of what has been lost and how much possible damage both characters can do if they aren’t careful about visiting the Flashpoint Universe.
Speaking of which, it’ll be very interesting to see what role Thomas Wayne will play in all this. He was the standout character from Flashpoint and seeing him back creates a lot of interesting angles for King and Williamson to go. Given that Reverse Flash ripped up Thomas’ letter to his son I’m even more interested to see how Bruce reacts to seeing his dad as a version of Batman.
Seeing the old version of Johnny Thunder also continued the tease of previously forgotten characters coming back. King previously showed us Saturn Girl at the beginning of Batman #21. Now with Johnny Thunder appearing and mentioning the JSA it looks as though more of the forgotten elements of the DCU are coming into play. How they come into play will be the big question we hopefully get an answer to.
Howard Porter delivered some very good artwork. Porter’s artwork was particularly strong any time he showed Flash in motion. The way he showed off how much power is following through Flash whenever he is tapping into the Speed Force. Porter’s art was particularly effective during Batman and Flash’s run through the Multiverse. Given his past in drawing series like JLA, Porter was able to show off the distinct style of the eras that Batman and Flash saw.
The Bad: Flash #21 was a dialogue heavy issue. While that helped show the difference between the two detectives it did get to be too much as the issue progressed. It got to the point of it feeling like Williamson started talking to the reader rather than Barry. Having Batman show up at the museum helped break things up so the dialogue didn’t get monotonous.
Overall: The Flash #21 was a strong continuation for ‘The Button’ crossover that kicked off in Batman #21. Joshua Williamson did a great job highlighting the unique relationship Batman and Flash share as fellow detectives. With their investigation taking them on a journey through the Multiverse and running into Flashpoint Batman things should only get more interesting as ‘The Button’ progresses.