Review: Flash #22

Quick Summary

Pros: The events within this comic are amazing and offer just enough resolution to tide readers over until the next step in this story. This comic does a great job in setting and hyping up Doomsday Clock. The artwork looks amazing, especially the issue’s cover.

Cons: Readers looking for answers and a definitive conclusion to this storyline will be disappointed.

Overall: The conclusion to “The Button” finishes up the current storyline in a way that works perfectly with DC’s current master plan. It reveals a few aspects of the Watchmen mystery while still keeping enough behind the curtain to keep readers excited for Doomsday Clock. Though some readers will be disappointed that this event didn’t have more to it, overall it is a great step in the ongoing story that is DC Rebirth.

Story

This issue brings “The Button” crossover event to a close in a rather explosive way. It continues the trend of bringing back legacy elements of the DC universe while also constantly teasing the future. However, this issue does not just close this series, it also starts building the excitement for the next one. All in all, as long as fans don’t go into this issue expecting it to be the Rosetta Stone of the mystery behind the Watchmen/DC crossover, there is nothing to be disappointed with here.

(spoilers start here)

This issue starts out right where Batman #22 (Review) concluded, with Flash and Batman chasing Eobard Thawne through the timestream. Soon after this, Thawne comes face to face with the big bad himself. In one swift moment, the once headstrong and braggadocios Thawne is reduced to a frightened child and simply destroyed. It is an intense moment that showcases the power of Dr. Manhattan while also bringing the story of this arc full circle.

Though this cathartic moment of harsh, karmic justice is great, the real highlight of the issue is the heartfelt return of Jay Garrick. Jay returns to the universe just long enough to save Batman and the Flash from being lost in time. At first, it appears he may be here to stay in the same way that Wally returned in DC Universe: Rebirth (Review). Instead, he is mercilessly ripped away by what appears to be Manhattan again. It is a small emotional roller coaster that fits in perfectly with the hope vs. despair theme of this entire arc.

The issue and arc end on a rather cryptic cliffhanger in the form of a short Epilogue. The Epilogue simply shows the Comedian’s button and then Superman’s crest. I personally believe that this is connected to Wally West’s comments in DC Universe: Rebirth (Review). In this he states “There’s going to be a war between hope and despair.” The juxtaposition of Superman (hope) and Watchmen (despair) seems to be obvious when viewed in this context. Does this means Superman will be facing off against Dr. Manhattan? Either way it is a great way to end the arc and simultaneously build up excitement for the next story.

The biggest and most obvious criticism of this issue and the crossover event as a whole is how little it actually answers about “The Button” and the threat Dr. Manhattan poses to the DC universe. This is a valid complaint as this event did little to push this plotline besides basically confirming Dr. Manhattan is indeed involved. However, now that the event is concluded, we can see that revealing everything about the Manhattan threat was not the intention of this series at all. This series is not the big revelation of the Watchmen mystery, that will be Doomsday Clock. This is a personal story designed to help introduce and set up aspects of this mystery.

In addition to this short defense of the content in this issue, I will add that that this event is almost perfect in doing what it needs to do and not doing more than that. Comic book readers constantly complain about “event fatigue.” This comes from comic companies saturating the market with events, each one promising to change the universe around it in bigger and bolder ways. With smaller events like “Justice League vs. Suicide Squad” and “The Button,” DC is meeting fans in the middle and offering small events every now and then while keeping huge “reality altering” events to a minimum. This is possibly why I enjoyed “The Button” so much, because things like this are exactly what I want to see coming from comic companies more often.

(spoilers end here)

Art

Howard Porter returns to art for this issue. For a more in depth discussion of his art make sure to check out the “Art” section of our review of The Flash #21 right here.

In addition, the lenticular cover for this issue may be the best of the covers from “The Button” crossover event. Drawn by Jason Fabok, it is a nice throwback to the first appearance of Jay Garrick while also being a beautiful looking cover in general.

Continuity

This comic is a direct follow-up to the events of Batman #22 (Review) and the finale to the storyline started in Batman #21 (Review). According to this issue’s epilogue, this story will be continued in the Doomsday Clock series in November of 2017.

The storyline as a whole mostly flows out of the events of DC Universe: Rebirth (Review) and Flashpoint (Review) and does not rely much on what has happened in the previous few issues of The Flash. Thus, new readers will be able to jump into “The Button” crossover without having read the previous Batman and The Flash stories.

However, this story does reference other comics. Readers should make sure to have read Watchmen, Flashpoint (Review), and DC Universe: Rebirth (Review) before reading this. Specifically this issue makes references to the following events and stories:

  • The cover of this issue is a reference to Flash Comics #1, which was the first every appearance of Jay Garrick, the original Flash. Collected editions of this issue are currently out of print.
  • Eobard Thawne mentions the two times he was previously killed.
    • One happened when Barry Allen snapped his neck in The Flash Vol. 1 Issue #324. This issue is currently uncollected.
    • The other happened when he was stabbed in Flashpoint (Review).
  • Eobard Thawne mentions killing Barry Allen’s mother, this happened in The Flash: Rebirth.
  • Jay asks Barry to remember him “like Wally.”This is a direct reference to the events in DC Universe: Rebirth (Review).
  • The ending of this story and the Epilogue both reference Watchmen.

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