The DC Comics two greatest detectives are going to have their work cut out for them when the mystery behind “The Button” that materialized at the onset of the “Rebirth” takes our heroes back to where it all started!
At the onset of the DC Comics “Rebirth” story arc, Wally West, the one-time Kid Flash after having ascended to the mantle of The Flash makes an appeal to the Dark Knight and appears to Batman in the Batcave. Initially the attempt appears a failure, but before Wally moves on to eventually be rescued by his mentor Barry Allen, The Flash, in his wake he leaves something behind for Batman to find. Wedged in a wall inside the Batcave, Batman discovers a curiosity — a strikingly familiar smiley face button with a blood stain across its yellow facade.
But that’s impossible? Isn’t it? That button has no place within the context of the DC Universe…or does it?
Uncovering that mystery is the task that has befallen the DC Universe’s two most dedicated detectives! It’s a conundrum that may answer who has interfered with with timeline causing the nearly 10 years of missing time that Wally West insists has upset the balance of events in the wake of the “FlashPoint” event which rebooted the entire DC Comics multiverse more than 5-years ago. The Flash’s attempt at altering his past had a butterfly affect across the timeline which resulted in an alternate past, present and future for our heroes.
For nearly all that time, most of the heroes have gone on with their lives as usual, but when Wally returned and Superman was revealed to have been split into two and only restored to his whole self recently, history has appeared to have fractured. It would seem that one of the Flash’s rogues, the time-traveling Reverse-Flash Eobard Thawne, may have a hand in this mess, but after coming in contact with the button himself, Thawne blinked out of existence only to return seconds later — and then murdered by some unseen force (see Batman #21).
Using the Cosmic Treadmill (a blast from the past), The Flash and Batman attempt to chase down the energy source that Thawne was himself tracking, and along the way, the pair uncover missing pieces of their own history — “the missing time” is revealed to them — but not before the treadmill hits a slight bump and falls apart landing our heroes in the “FlashPoint” version of events (see The Flash #21) — and someone is waiting for them, someone that shouldn’t even exist!
As it turns out, the “FlashPoint” reality which should have never existed after The Flash worked to correct the mistakes he made that resulted in the “FlashPoint” event. When Barry Allen prevented himself from changing the past, he caused events t reassert — the result was the present continuity of “The New 52” timeline. Batman comes face-to-face with the “FlashPoint” Batman, his father Thomas Wayne who assumes the role of Gotham City’s vigilante grief riddled after losing his family in a dark alley to a mugger.
Both our heroes make a hasty retreat from the “FlashPoint” timeline (which shouldn’t exist in the first place, but there was another instance during the “Convergence” event where parts of this timeline did survive) — someone clearly not happy that Batman and The Flash discovered this “pocket timeline” immediately work to eradicate its existence! Having quickly repaired the Cosmic Treadmill they resume their chase of Thawne, who out paces them, as the villain races towards his fate and the source of the energy that is responsible for — the button!
With fans and critics both not entirely thrilled with the changes that took place following “FlashPoint”, the DC Comics creative staff went to work on a plausible excuse to retcon plenty of “The New 52” narrative that established a leaner and meaner Justice League, a younger roguish Superman, a demigod Wonder Woman, and left other icons like Batman pretty much untouched. The DC Comics multiverse had returned, and the events of the very first Crisis were also erased; the most obvious casualty in this latest reboot — the fabled legacies were gone!
With 75 years of continuity to its name, and a “Golden Age” that leads to a “Silver Age” and a “Modern Age” that is considerably still evolving having worked itself out of a “Dark Age” into a full blown renaissance — which is what “Rebirth” is hoping to help recapture.
“The Button” is alluding to the presence of an all-powerful being that stole a considerable amount of time right out from under our heroes noses! There are now a handful of characters that are aware of this including Wally West (his teammates in the Titans), Batman, The Flash, Superman and to some extent even Wonder Woman (who’s discovering that her mythological origins may be false). There’s only one individual within the realm of the DC Comics multiverse that could wield that much power, but just how the characters of the Watchmen play into this story…
Well, that’s still developing. After all the button in question belongs to the vigilante super-agent known as The Comedian from the world of the Watchmen, and for all his bravado, that character is just a machine gun toting hired assassin. Is he trying to warn the heroes of the DC Universe continuity about a larger threat? Perhaps he is an emissary for Dr. Manhattan — in any event readers will find out soon enough!
One of the caveats of the “Rebirth” storyline promises to restore the “Golden Age” heroes as well as lay down the foundation for the heroic future of the Legion of Super Heroes. There are two displaced characters that are still playing a significant role in our story, but with the final act still some distance away, at least the return of one other speedster is guaranteed to shed some light on the situation!
“The Button” story arc is playing out in Batman #21 — Part One written by Dan Jurgens with art by Ian Churchill is on sale now from DC Comics and continues in The Flash #21, Batman #22, and concludes in The Flash #22.