It’s hard to believe that DC’s Rebirth initiative is going to celebrate its first birthday next month. DC promised a soft reboot that would restore its heroes back to their tonal values, a move that so far has resulted in changes both big and small. Superman is now more original than ever before because of really weird reasons, Wonder Woman’s origins are finally becoming clearer and Batman is actually a force of hope. Weird, but good, times.
DC also promised an angle that the entire Rebirth event would be built around: Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s cult classic comic book series Watchmen. How do the gritty heroes of that world fit into the DC universe? That’s the mystery that began unfolding in Batman #21 this week by Tom King, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson and Deron Bennett. Having found the button belonging to the deceased Comedian, Batman’s investigations have turned up nothing so far. Spoilers below, so uh, be careful?
Until he placed it next to the mask of the Psycho Pirate. That’s a notable link right there: DC’s had several reboots over the years, from Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis and the Flashpoint Paradox. Somehow the Psycho Pirate has managed to survive all of them, keeping his memories intact of timelines that were.
The button sparks and Batman gets a mere glimpse of his father from the Flashpoint universe…and also an unwelcome speedster as he waits for The Flash to pop in. What follows is the longest minute in comic book history, as the Reverse Flash decides to vent his anger after he conveniently finds himself alive and with his Flashpoint memories intact.
Thomas Wayne’s Batman may no longer be around, but you can be damn sure that at least one nocturnal mammal-themed vigilante is going to pay for leaving a massive hole in Eobard Thawne’s head. It’s a brutal, one-sided fight. Even with an advantage here and there, Batman is no match for a speedster with an axe to grind, as Thawne delivers bloody blow after blow to the dark knight. Bonus points to the use of yellow and black amidst splashes of blood here. I’m loving the more subtle references to Watchmen present.
That’s not the worst of it however, as Thawne goes the dickish step extra in his personal war with Batman:
And then Batman is saved, by the seemingly useless button that he’d been studying. A combination of the residual energy from the Psycho Pirate mask, Thawn’s own paradoxical nature and an act of God:
Or more precisely, Doctor Manhattan. Thawne is left buggered to bits at this point, as the wrath of Manhattan has clearly turned its attention to the DC universe, wiping the Reverse-Flash from history again. Oooh, too slow bro. Side-note: Thawne looks very similar to the decayed form of Barry Allen’s Flash when he first sacrificed himself in Crisis on Infinite Earths:
Sideux-note: How fricking awesome is the art team on Batman? Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson and Deron Bennett nail the thin line between man and myth every time they pump out an issue of Batman.
I love moments like this. Batman’s mission lately has been two-sided: A boogeyman to the criminal underworld, but also a symbol that can show Gotham that it is more than capable of overcoming fear. I dig seeing the dark knight practice what he preaches, even when beaten halfway to death by an increasingly frustrated Reverse-Flash.
There’s more to the mystery of The Button storyline to come of course, as DC looks ready to finally reveal just what the hell is going on inside of its multiverse. Right after Batman gets back from the dentist presumably.