Review: Batman/The Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition

Batman/The Flash: The Button

Before I read Doomsday Clock #1, I figured I should read Batman/Flash: The Button, the crossover that preceded it (and bridged the gap from DC: Rebirth #1). Luckily, it went on sale last week as part of DC’s Black Friday digital sale—some damn good timing there!

What is it? Batman/The Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition
Who did it? Joshua Williamson, Tom King, Jason Fabok and Howard Porter
When did it come out? 2017
What does it collect? Batman (Rebirth) #21-22, The Flash (Rebirth #21-22

Batman/The Flash: The Button is ultimately a disappointing read…

There are some really cool things about this book, that I’ll get to… unfortunately, I’m not sure what the point of this story really is. The Reverse-Flash gets resurrected… only to be killed again. Jay Garrick, the original Flash, returns… only to disappear again. And they lose the titular button, without ever finding out anything about it, other than it has an odd reaction to Psycho Pirate’s mask. I get that they’re trying to save all the good stuff for Doomsday Clock… but give us something!

… and I’m not even sure what relevance this story has to Doomsday Clock

At least not yet. It sure seems like the only thing this story accomplishes is returning the button to the Watchmen universe, or at the very least, the hands of Dr. Manhattan. Which in itself is kinda weird… presumably it was Manhattan who resurrected the Reverse-Flash to retrieve it for him, and kills him after he does? He’s “God,” though—surely he could have just grabbed it himself? And as I said earlier, Batman and Flash learn virtually nothing, and lose the button. So I dunno. Hopefully we’ll learn that the story, or at least the button itself, has more relevance in Doomsday Clock.

Thomas Wayne’s message for Bruce almost makes the story worth it

This is by far the best part of the story—that Bruce Wayne briefly meets his father, the Batman of the Flashpoint universe (and the guy who originally killed the Reverse-Flash). Thomas Wayne has a message for Bruce: To give up being Batman, to live life, to be a father to his son Damian, to be happy. And at the end of the story Bruce is actually considering it. So many people, from Alfred to Leslie Tompkins to Selina Kyle, have implored Bruce to do the same, and he never does… but of course, his father saying it makes him think twice. It’s a moment that really works. And I’m definitely curious to see how it plays out from here.

The Batman vs. Reverse Flash fight is the highlight sequence of the book

The story starts with a bang—Batman examines the button, then the Reverse Flash appears and spends one minute brutally beating Bruce (though Bruce briefly gets the upper hand, because, hey, he’s Batman). It takes up almost the entirety of the first issue and it’s done in the familiar Watchmen-esque nine panel grid. Batman knows he only has to survive the one minute—that’s when The Flash will arrive—and he barely makes it. It’s a brutal sequence, brilliantly choreographed, and a small countdown clock in the corner only heightens the tension.

The art throughout is pretty damn solid

I’ve been a Howard Porter fan since his JLA days, and I know not everyone was a fan back then, but I’m pleased to see how he’s grown and his style evolved over the years. He’s also inking himself now so I feel like this is a more pure Howard Porter experience. and it doesn’t disappoint. That splash page where Jay Garrick returns is wonderful. Meanwhile, Jason Fabok (who handles the Batman side of the crossover) is one of the best artists in the DC stable right now. Batman is one of only two books I’ve been reading since Rebirth (Wonder Woman being the other) and he’s a big part of the reason why.

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Having read Doomsday Clock #1 I can say that the button doesn’t feature at all in that first issue, except in a teaser at the end where it appears to be in the hands of Lex Luthor. So its fate remains unknown… for now. As for this story, I recommend it if you’re up for the cool sequences noted above (and can grab it for cheap); but if you’re looking for some deep connective tissue between Rebirth #1 and Doomsday Clock, you’ll probably be disappointed (especially if you have to pay full price for it).

Review: Doomsday Clock #1

Doomsday Clock #1

I can’t remember the last time I bought a single, physical issue of a comic book. Age of Ultron, maybe? Regardless, the buzz around Doomsday Clock, DC’s maybe-sequel to Watchmen that maybe integrates the Watchmen universe with the DC Universe, inspired me to visit Silver Snail on New Comic Book Day last week to get a copy of Doomsday Clock #1 for myself.

Here are my thoughts (minor spoilers where noted):

What is it? Doomsday Clock #1
Who did it? Geoff Johns and Gary Frank
When did it come out? November 22, 2017

Doomsday Clock #1 exceeded my expectations

I’ve mostly enjoyed the comics I’ve read by Geoff Johns; some I’ve loved, in fact. And I like Gary Frank. In fact, I am a huge fan of the work those two did together on Superman. That, combined with the positive early buzz, set my expectations for this book pretty high! And it exceeded them thoroughly. It’s gorgeous. It’s written in such a way that is more than homage to Watchmen, and that could have easily derailed it, looking like a copy or a mockery… but it actually works. It put my right back into that universe. And the story drops you in the middle of a crisis (that I won’t spoil) and then tension is ratcheted up, and you really feel it. Furthermore, much like Watchmen #1, enough hints of several mysteries are dropped that you definitely want to read what’s coming next.

I probably shouldn’t love the overt Watchmen homages, but I do

That this is a continuation of Watchmen is right in your face; much like Dr. Manhattan’s giant blue penis in the big-screen adaptation, you can’t miss it. The cover layout is the same. The cover acting as the first panel of the story is there. The nine-panel grid, of course. The lettering and fonts, the colors, the titles, the quote at the end… the end pieces! I mean, this should feel hokey, or cheap, but… it just doesn’t. It works.

Let’s talk about Rorschach

(SPOILERS IN THIS SECTION)

It’s not a spoiler to say that Rorschach appears in this comic, since he’s all over the previews. But (another SPOILER ALERT, in case you ain’t paying attention) this isn’t the same Rorschach that we saw in Watchmen. It would appear that Walter Kovacs was indeed, annihilated in the snow by Dr. Manhattan, and another gentleman—an African-American gentleman—has taken up the role. It’s not clear why, or how he got the mask, but he’s clearly a bit… deranged, like the original. He has peculiar eating habits (likes his syrup, apparently), is oddly forgetful, lives in his car… yeah, he’s got issues. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s someone we know; as far as I can recall, the only black characters in the original Watchmen (Rorschach’s psychiatrist and Bernie the newsstand boy) were killed when the creature materialized in New York. (Although looking at those pages now… it’s possible young Bernie was shielded enough by old Bernie to survive…) (END SPOILERS)

I’m not up on current DC continuity, such as it is…

… so I was surprised to learn that, in the current DCU, Clark Kent’s adoptive parents were killed in a car crash when he was 18. I was even more surprised to learn that I had, in fact, read the stories where that continuity change was introduced: Grant Morrison’s Action Comics run. (That should tell you how much that run stuck with me… man, what a disappointment that was after Morrison’s brilliant All-Star Superman.) Clark’s nightmare about their death clearly means that night ties into this story somehow (assuming of course, Johns and Frank follow the track of the original Watchmen, where every panel and page meant something). Are we meant to think that continuity change happened because Dr. Manhattan manipulated the DCU? Or is it even more sinister than that? Can’t wait to find out!

I don’t want to get my hopes up too far

This issue did remind me of the first issue of Infinite Crisis, another Geoff Johns book that was a sequel to a legendary 1980s comic (Crisis on Infinite Earths). And I loved that first issue as well; I loved the ideas it presented (that the DC heroes had gotten away from what made them special), why it needed to tie into the original Crisis (the purpose of that event was to “clean up” the DC Universe and get their characters back to basics) and the way it brought back the original Earth-2 Superman and Lois and the Earth-Prime Superboy. It all worked! Unfortunately it fell apart by the end of the series. Editorial changes and delays plagued the book and the ending felt hollow. Let’s hope the follow through is better on this one.

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So the question is: Will I end up going to the comic shop next month to get Doomsday Clock #2? Will I settle for a digital copy? Or wait until the inevitable collected edition? Time will tell…