Saturday, April 22, 2017

Comic Book Review: Batman #21 "The Button, Pt.1"

By: Jerry Montgomery
April 18, 2017

Batman #21
“The Button,  Pt.1”

Written by: Tom King
Pencils and Inks by: Jason Fabok

“But you’d regained interest in human life…”
“Yes, I have. I think perhaps I’ll create some. Goodbye, Adrian.”
“Jon, wait, before you leave…I did the right thing, didn’t I? It all worked out in the end.”
“In the end?” “Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.”

So it ended, or should I say, so it began? These are the last words Dr. Manhattan
One of the variant covers available for Batman 21
spoke to Adrian Veidt before disappearing into the ether at the end of The Watchmen.  But what does this have to do with Batman #21? Maybe nothing…maybe everything but this we know for sure, Batman knows that something isn’t right. He knows that he’s lost ten years…that the entire world has lost ten years and all but a few realize it. People have been forgotten or never existed.  Some legends are rookies once again. There are three Jokers. The world is changed. The big question is who is responsible and why did they do it? And then there’s that damn button, spattered with blood but ever smiling.

The mystery of the button began in last year in DC’s one shot launch of Rebirth, following the death of the New 52 Superman and the death and rebirth of Darkseid  at the hands of the Justice League. It is here, as Batman sat in the Moebius chair that he attained all knowledge and upon asking the true identity of the Joker, he is told that there are three. Wally West/Kid Flash returns from his own “death” as he tries to find an anchor to escape from the Speed Force so that he could warn the others. Warn them about a being more powerful than Reverse Flash or even Darkseid himself. A being that changed everything and took years away from them to make them weak. He couldn’t see who it was but Wally knew that someone was just beyond his sight, watching.

Wally tries to anchor himself with someone who will recognize him, first appearing to Batman with a message before he is pulled back into the Speed Force, “R-remember how you got the letter, Bruce! The letter from your Father! From Thomas Wayne! It’s how this all st-started.” Wally is eventually pulled out of the Speed Force by the Flash, who eventually remembers Wally before he is consumed. In doing this, the Flash remembers his life and events previous to this Rebirth event. Simultaneously, Batman ponders Wally’s message until a glint catches his eye from inside the walls of the Batcave. Getting a tool from his belt, Batman pries loose from the rock, the button.

Batman #21 picks up from there as Batman begins to analyze “The Button” in the Batcave’s computers. While getting no further in deciphering it, he tosses it next to the Psycho Pirate’s mask and The unimaginable happens. The button reacts to the mask and seems to rip open time and space as Dr. Thomas Wayne, appears to Batman but is gone just as quickly as he came. Now why is this so important? In an alternate reality, it was young Bruce Wayne that was killed in that alleyway instead of his parents. The result? Bruce’s father,  Thomas writes a letter to his son which travels through time and space to Bruce’s hands, now displayed in the Batcave. Dr. Thomas Wayne becomes the Batman to combat crime, though his incarnation of Batman is more violent and brutal. Thomas Wayne has no aversion against killing. He even uses guns.

Batman contacts the Flash about what has just transpired since he too remembers life before Rebirth who then says he will be there in one minute though before Batman can turn around, another speedster shows up with as much a role to play in all of this, Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash…and he’s pissed. You see, he was killed by the Dr. Thomas Wayne Batman, so he’s none too happy at seeing the son of the man who killed him. As well as super speed, the Reverse Flash can blur, meaning no one or no thing can hit him. How can Batman hope to defeat a foe such as this? Especially one holding a murderous grudge? What happens next does so in only a minute but what a minute, setting the stage for a possible reveal of whoever is behind Rebirth with murderous results. This is only the beginning of the mystery of “The Button”.

The Verdict: This issue and  story arc have been highly anticipated for months and I have to say it does not disappoint! Writer Tom King has put forth a tremendously entertaining story and artist Jason Fabok has proven that he was the right man for the job of illustrating it! The implications of transpiring events has the potential to upend the DC universe with the probable collision with the deconstructionist one of The Watchmen. With subtle clues, its easy to conclude that Dr. Manhattan may be behind it all, possibly the creator of it all or a breach into the already existing DC universe, but who knows? The mystery still abounds with any number of explanations to be had. If you have been following Batman and his discovery of the button, this one is a no brainer. You need to get this book, though trolling some of my local comic shops, this one may be a tough one to find. On the other hand, this one has been released with four variant covers (one being a deluxe verticular or “winkie” cover), so it may be an easy get after all. With a return of The Watchmen and chance to see some of DC’s iconic heroes interact with them in the same time frame, this issue is a must have to get in on the ground floor.

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