THE FLASH #21
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Howard Porter and Hi-Fi
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: April 26, 2017
We go full on “Detective Mode” and Flash-centric with the second chapter of The Button and this issue packs several punches on every level. We go all over the DC Universe with callbacks, returns, teasers, mysteries, and hints at the old school, stacked on top of the new school with Rebirth and you have Williamson taking this investigation to places you wouldn’t think of.
Picking up some time after Barry arrived to meet an unconscious Bruce, he’s met with a Eobard Thawne skeleton and the makings of a interesting crime scene. Luckily for Batman, Barry Allen does crime scenes really well. Williamson continues to chart a path for Barry with the apparent death of one of his long standing villains and gives us a small quiet moment of closure as Barry finally exclaims “It’s over Mom…” but this is a crime scene and an ongoing one at that, so this requires more of Barry Allen the CSI and less Barry Allen, The Flash. He’s treating it like any other crime scene case…laying out the environment involved (which is most of the Bat Cave), checking the energies and residual effects of Reverse Flash and what he might have left behind, and lastly…the witness to the crime which is the healing Bruce Wayne. Which Porter and Hi-Fi illustrate and color to wonderful effect.
Even though stories in both Justice League and the solo titles, DC explores different dynamics amidst the JL. One of those dynamics being that both Flash and Batman are detectives even in their superhero moments. Williamson pulls on threads showcasing the known history of the two and how aspects of their personality resonate because of how they are and that strengthens the reasoning behind why it’s a Batman and Flash adventure outside of the obvious connections linking the two together.
As the issue goes on, the larger DCU Rebirth ties and clues reveal themselves like peeled back layers. From Mr. Thunder opening the issue with a crazy attempt to call the thunder back to save the Justice Society to Barry reflecting on Wally’s words of the mysterious villains that started this mess during Flashpoint it’s all connected whether it’s small or huge and everything concerning the ongoing investigation has a part to play. It’s an interesting note to make that during Flashpoint and the Rebirth one shot last year, it featured both Batman and Flash in prominent roles with “The Button” continuing the trend. As Part One focused on Batman in his title with sprinkles of Flash under Tom King’s writing, Part Two does the same for Flash and increases the personal stakes for both of them by the time the issue ends.
Not to be under utilized, Howard Porter and Hi-Fi draw the hell out of every corner of this book. From the spread covering the Batcave in yellow police line tape defining the areas of interests and the Hi-Fi colors firmly planting every inch of what we’re seeing on the page in pitch perfect saturation and balance, never taking away from what’s happening. Porter maintains his warranted messiness when it’s called upon, journeying to the Watchtower with a wounded Batman not far behind go into a room filled with DC Easter eggs of all shapes and sizes and it’s a treat to try and spot what each item is referencing and the story behind them. Porter draws locations and people to great effect from their expressions and costumes, showcasing every line and detail with the right amount of age showing for the certain character. It fits the dizzying nature of the second installment given how it begins to dive deep into the heart of the DC Universe.
The investigation of the button leads the two World’s Greatest Detectives on a trip to the beloved Cosmic Treadmill to a location that I’m not entirely sure how it can even exist given the nature of DC Rebirth but, Williamson has maintained the ship and set up a very Batman specific journey through this investigation for next week. Not only does this issue work as apart of the crossover but it works as a Flash issue as well. The Flash related history is thriving inside the pages and adds to the overall tapestry of Williamson’s run on Flash with no signs of slowing down with the inclusion of long standing Speed Force related clues and connections. The Button Part Two gets the mystery of the button into full swing and pulls on many aspects of DC and shows there is still energy and purpose behind what they started with in DCYou, Rebirth and by that measure, Flashpoint.
The Verdict: 9.0/10