Over the past month, DC Comics has been publishing a crossover between Tom King’s Batman run and Joshua Williamson’s The Flash entitled The Button. This crossover picks up from where the DC Rebirth One-Shot left off, with Batman and the Flash discovering the Comedian’s (from Alan Moore’s Watchmen) smiley-face button stuck in the wall of the Batcave. The crossover follows Batman and the Flash as they try to track down the source of the radiation being emitted by the button while facing off against a series of personal and emotional obstacles thrown their way, seemingly on purpose.
First off, I think it’s important to note that I have not been regularly following either of these comics. I read the first issue or two of Tom King’s Batman run, and it was enjoyable enough; I just got too busy and caught up with life to regularly read them and I have never really read any of the Flash’s solo titles. That being said, this crossover seems to stand apart from whatever ongoing storylines have been going on in the individual titles. As long as you’ve read the DC Rebirth One-Shot, you should be good to go with reading this crossover.
As for the crossover itself, Batman and the Flash aren’t really any closer to figuring out who’s behind the lost time and the meddling with the timestream that led to the Flashpoint, the New 52, and now to Rebirth. We, the audience, already know who is behind all this. (Spoiler: It’s Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen. Why Manhattan has the Comedian’s pin/left it in the Batcave is a mystery yet to be solved.) That being said, it’s not like nothing happened in the crossover.
The first big thing that went down was Batman and the Flash traveling through the time stream and ending up in the Flashpoint universe where Bruce Wayne meets his dad (in the Flashpoint universe, Thomas Wayne became Batman after Martha and Bruce were killed). This, alone, is worth reading the crossover. Seeing Bruce interact with his father and grapple with the emotions that interaction brings up is fascinating. Thomas tells Bruce that he should give up being Batman; this isn’t what Thomas and Martha would want Bruce to be doing with his life. This is a concept that travels through the entire crossover, culminating in a scene at the end of The Flash #22 (the finale of the crossover) where Bruce ignores the Bat-Signal.
The Flashpoint universe begins to fall apart as Thomas Wayne is attacked by Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s warriors (in the Flashpoint universe, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are at war. In the Flashpoint storyline, Thomas Wayne and the Flash tried to stop the war. The Flash thought this timeline would cease existing once the universe was rebooted; he was wrong. Turns out that Doctor Manhattan, the being behind all of this, decided to keep that universe alive. It’s implied that Manhattan is basically screwing around with Bruce and the Flash). As the Flashpoint universe falls apart, Thomas sacrifices himself so Barry and Bruce can escape.
Upon escaping, they encounter Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, trying to trace down the source of the radiation from the button as well. They chase him through the timeline, fending off various verbal threats, until Thawne reaches the end of the stream, encountering who we can only presume is Doctor Manhattan and being annihilated and sent back to the Batcave (where Bruce first encountered him in the first part of the story; the event that sparked this whole adventure in the first place). Bruce and Barry end up back in their regular timeline and agree to keep investigating the mystery, with Bruce deciding to perform an autopsy on Thawne’s corpse.
In an epilogue scene, we’re transported to wherever Doctor Manhattan is residing as he looks at the Comedian’s button. The scene is captioned with some dialogue Manhattan says in the original Watchmen comic. It then reveals that the story will be continued in Geoff Johns’ Doomsday Clock miniseries coming out in November.
So, like I said, the actual mystery itself didn’t get advanced much, but the crossover was still enjoyable. It’s fun having Batman and the Flash in a comic with just the two of them. It was fun getting to see Batman encounter his father (as that timeline’s Batman) in the Flashpoint timeline, and having the Flash and Batman try to track down and stop Thawne from following the source of the button’s radiation before he would be murdered by Doctor Manhattan was fun.
In general, the crossover was fun. It did its job in teasing the Doomsday Clock miniseries being released later this year. It was an enjoyable little romp with the two characters. It was well written, well paced, and well drawn. It’s a mostly stand-alone crossover, so people who haven’t been following either series’ ongoing arcs can easily read this crossover as long as they read last year’s Rebirth one-shot. Primarily because of this crossover, I’m looking forward to Doomsday Clock very much. Can’t wait for the Watchmen universe to clash with the DC Universe. I hope more characters than just Doctor Manhattan are involved.
I give The Button four out of five stars.