REVIEW: BATMAN (Vol. 3) #22
AUTHOR: John Bierly (Follow @JOHNBIERLY)
DATE: May 3, 2017

SYNOPSIS: “THE BUTTON” part three! The cataclysmic events of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1 continue here! The Dark Knight and The Fastest Man Alive, the two greatest detectives on any world, unite to explore the mystery behind a certain blood-stained smiley button embedded in the Batcave wall. What starts as a simple investigation turns deadly when the secrets of the button prove irresistible to an unwelcome third party—and it’s not who anyone suspects! It’s a mystery woven through time, and the ticking clock starts here!

BATMAN #21 gave us a spectacular hook for "The Button" storyline, as Batman survived a high-speed pummeling from Reverse-Flash, just in time for Barry Allen to arrive to a burned-out husk of his greatest enemy and a badly beaten Bruce. While THE FLASH #21 took a step back from the punching to let two of DC's best detectives talk out the oddities surrounding how the Comedian's button from WATCHMEN popped up in the Batcave, BATMAN #22 rides its cliffhanger into a whole new world of action and emotion.

Writer Tom King gets a co-story credit here, with a script by THE FLASH's Joshua Williamson, who brings the voice of tone of the previous installment into this penultimate chapter. (You don't absolutely need to read THE FLASH #21 to figure things out here, but it's highly recommended. Besides, you're going to want to finish the set next week.) After hitching a ride on the Cosmic Treadmill, Bruce and Barry meet Batman's FLASHPOINT counterpart, but the emotion of the reunion is cut short. It seems that a war between Aquaman and Wonder Woman has spilled across Earth, and the only thing both sides can agree on is that Dr. Thomas Wayne's Dark Knight has got to go.

With Atlantean and Themysciran assassins raiding Wayne Manor and sweeping into the Batcave, Bruce and Thomas have little time to reunite. But they try make the most of it, with Williamson's script dispensing of the fight scenes as quickly as the Batmen and the Flash dispatch their assailants. One could say that the reunion happens too quickly, but does anyone ever have time to say what they need to say when time-travel shenanigans are afoot? And that's the point of "The Button." Things are happening. Strings are being pulled. And it's up to Batman and The Flash to discover what and by whom, regardless of how they feel about Batman's brief reunion with his dad or The Flash's dealing with his mother's killer's death.

Unless...no. That would be telling.

There's a lot of WE'VE GOT TO GO, BUT WE CAN'T, BUT WE HAVE TO going on here. DC's various crises are usually not my cup of tea, but this one's been really solid so far, even if events such as these feel less special when they happen so often. The WATCHMEN angle makes this one unique, though this issue parks it on the bench a bit. I'm curious to see how far they take it in next week's finale.

The covers are spectacular. Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson go grim and gut-punching, while Tim Sale and Brennan Wagner deliver handsome noir with yet another fabulous variant. Fabok's interior pencils and inks keep the action intense and the emotion taut with his mastery of faces, bodies, and movement, while Anderson's palette delivers colorful super-heroics and the heavy atmosphere of the cave with equal skill. It's a great looking book.

So even if these kinds of stories aren't usually your thing, the character stuff has made this one more than worth it for me. Can't wait to see what weirdness we get in the conclusion...assuming that it actually concludes. - John Bierly

GRADE: A

John Bierly still can't believe he
gets to write for BOF.
Check out JOHNBIERLY.COM to read about the other things he writes about.


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