Review: The Flash #21

[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]

Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artists: Howard Porter

Summary
The second installment of “The Button” begins with a member of the Justice Society making an appearance. No, not Jay Garrick – Johnny Thunder. Johnny is on the roof of his retirement home in a thunderstorm, calling out the magic word “Cei-U,” hoping to conjure up his Thunderbolt. He tells the orderlies that force him back inside that the lightning told him that he needs to find his friends – the Justice Society.

Next, we see Barry examining the aftermath of Batman’s encounter with Professor Zoom in last week’s Batman #21. Despite his injuries, Batman is focused on following up the mystery of the Button and finding who or what killed Zoom.

Barry heads to the Justice League Watchtower, where he reveals that he has stored the Cosmic Treadmill, a device which allows him to travel through time. He intends on travelling back through time to discover who killed Zoom and is messing with Time. However, Batman arrives and admonishes him for trying to make the trip without him.

Entering the Time Stream, they seem some snippets of Justice League history that don’t jive with their memories, but somehow seem to be from their universe.

A storm flings them from the Time Stream and they find themselves in the Batcave. But it’s not Bruce’s Batcave – it belongs to Thomas Wayne. Batman and the Flash have landed in the Flashpoint universe.

Positives
Where to begin? The first part of “The Button” was great, but it was mostly tease, which is appropriate for the opening chapter, but this installment is starting to get into the meat of the story.

First off, there’s Johnny Thunder’s declaration that the Justice Society needs to be found. DC’s solicitations have implied that Jay Garrick will be appearing in this story, so perhaps he will be the first to be found.

I did not expect to see the freakin’ Cosmic Treadmill to be reinstated in canon. But there it is, looking exactly as it did in the Silver Age comics. It may seem a bit goofy to modern sensibilities, but as a longtime DC fan, it was like seeing a long-lost old friend.

It is also interesting that it was the Psycho Pirate’s Medusa Mask that interacted with the smiley face button, when you consider that the Psycho Pirate was the only DC character to remember the DC Multiverse from before the Crisis On Infinite Earths. Does he likewise remember the pre-Flashpoint DCU?

Then there are the snippets of DC history Barry and Bruce see in the Time Stream. One is the Silver Age origin of the Justice League, another is a scene out of Identity Crisis, and the third is Barry appearing to Batman at the beginning of the Crisis On Infinite Earths. None of these happened in the New 52 continuity, yet Barry believes they are part of the years Wally told him were stolen from the DCU (in DC Universe: Rebirth #1).

Also intriguing is that the Silver Age origin of the JLA was not part of the pre-Flashpoint canon, yet it is apparently part of the time that was stolen. Could the meddling with time go back a lot further than the Flashpoint? Could it go all the way back to the Silver Age – or further?

Negatives
There is only one thing that troubles me in this issue. It was the scene that Batman and the Flash glimpse from Identity Crisis. If there is one part of DC’s pre-Flashpoint history that should not be reinstated, it is Identity Crisis. Now don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoyed the story, but there was just too much negative stuff that came out of that series that shouldn’t be reinstated to canon – namely the rape and murder of Sue Dibny and the JLA using mind control on villains (and teammates). Identity Crisis makes for a fascinating Elseworlds story, but please don’t make it canon again.

Verdict
DC is trying hard to reconnect with longtime fans that may have been disenchanted with DC over the New 52 reboot. While there was much I liked about the New 52, I much preferred the pre-Flashpoint DCU. But between “The Button” and “Superman Reborn,” this has been an amazing month for DC Fans. For the first time in years, reading comics seem as fun and exciting as it did when I was a kid.

 

 

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Derek McNeil

I have been an avid reader of DC Comics since the early 70s. My earliest exposure was to Batman and Superman comics, Batman (Adam West) reruns, and watching the Super-Friends every Saturday morning.