Who is powerful enough to manipulate the reality of the DC Universe?
Story threads weaving through DC Rebirth books for the past year just wrapped around the Dark Knight and readers like a tight noose in part one of The Button.
Batman #21 is the first chapter of this crossover with The Flash picking up a big bombshell from DC Universe Rebirth #1. Bruce and Barry attempt to discover the mystery that started with the return of the other Flash.
In the epic Geoff Johns one-shot, Wally West gave Batman a letter from his father in an alternate reality and a blood-stained smiley face button was found in the Batcave. This was the first evidence that the Watchmen universe could be colliding with the DC reality.
The mysterious Mister Oz has kidnapped heroes and villains and taunted Superman. And let’s not forget the mystery woman in Arkham Asylum who may be a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Writer Tom King brings it all together in a riveting first chapter packed with a brutal beat down of Batman but a surprise villain and a death that fires up the Watchmen conspiracy.
Before we continue here’s a SPOILER ALERT!
If you have not read Batman #21 yet stop reading now.
Here it comes.
Let’s all confess:
When we saw the blood-stained smiley face in Batcave, we immediately went to The Comedian, the button wearing anti-hero whose murder triggered the events of the classic Watchmen epic by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
Mister Oz could be Ozymandias, the world’s smartest man and mastermind of the events in Watchmen.could be the mastermind of the lost DC New 52 decade, cosmic kidnappings and knowledge of the Supermen.
Dr. Manhattan is powerful enough to rewrite reality. In DC Universe Rebirth we saw The New 52 Pandora killed with a power signature that could come from Dr. Manhattan.
In this week’s issue we see the smiley face could be something else.
King revisits the mystery woman in Arkham Asylum that could be Saturn Girl. In previous issues we saw this woman with the iconic Legion ring. How did this member of the Legion of Super-Heroes from the 30th century end up in present day Gotham City? In The Button part one she has a vision among the inmates ending with a cry, “Nothing stops it. Superman won’t come. Our friends will die. The Legion will die.”
In the background of this room is a poster with a big smiley face with the slogan, “ARKHAM IS FOR HEALING.”
Is this just a slogan, a red herring, a tease or a direct connection to the infamous smiley face button stained with blood?
The Psycho-Pirate has been a critical character in King’s earlier Batman stories. The Dark Knight took on Bane to make the Pirate heal Gotham Girl’s madness. When Batman tosses the button on the same table near the mask, a lightning bolt (like a Flashpoint?) connects the icons leading to a vision of the Thomas Wayne Batman who faded away but the appearance of Reverse Flash. Eobard Thawne told Bruce he should be dead but “a power…it woke me. It called out. For me. And I am resurrected.
Thawne delivers a brutal beating before taunting Batman and ripping apart the letter from his father. Batman finally gets an edge on Thawne before finally knocking him out. When Reverse Flash grabs the button he vanishes only to return half burned in a blue light saying, “God. I saw…God.”
Flash arrives in the Batcave to find an unconscious Bruce and dead Reverse Flash!
Did Reverse Flash get transported to a realm where he encountered and was killed by…Dr. Manhattan?
The Button continues in The Flash by Joshua Williamson.