Batman and The Flash have been investigating the mysterious button found in the Batcave, and things have gotten complicated. And who’s the man in the silver helmet, again? Your Major Spoilers review of The Flash #22 awaits!
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Howard Porter
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in The Flash: The search for the owner of the mysterious button has sent Batman and The Flash on a collision course with Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, a walking paradox. Realizing that whoever (or whatever) is behind all of this must have tremendous power, Thawne has fled into the timestream, with Batman and Flash following on the Cosmic Treadmill, on a desperate race to save the world. Or, perhaps more importantly, the worlds…
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE
We open in the timestream, as Flash and Batman chase Thawne, who monologues endlessly about his nefarious plans for Barry once he has the power that the smiley-face button promises. For his part, Barry Allen is a bit more focused on staying alive, as his cosmic treadmill starts to break apart due to the buffeting of space/time, while a mysterious voice keeps calling his name over and over. Eobard safely follows the metaphysical trail to its source, only to be brutally murdered, torn apart by a burst of sheer power like a tiny masked man wearing elevator shoes in Antarctica might be. Barry finally listens to the voice calling to him and responds in kind, saying the name of the person calling out to him: Jay.
The original Flash suddenly bursts through some sort of dimensional barrier, grabbing our heroes and returning them safely to the Batcave before dissolving out of reality once more. Jay is there just long enough to tell Barry that “someone” took everything from him, which I hope will lead to more JSA, while Batman considers the nature of his crusade, Flash prepares to autopsy Thawne and Doctor Manhattan, having killed The Reverse-Flash, considers the nature of time…
There is some strong stuff in this comic book, and the full-page spread of The Flash bursting out of nowhere to save his friend Barry is pretty amazing. I enjoy the full-page examination of Batman wondering if he should take his father’s advice and give up the vigilante life, and there are a couple of Flash/Batman conversations that are absolutely perfect in these pages. That said, the final ten pages of the book are maddening, giving us bits of Watchmen dialogue with a tease about whether or not it’s really Doctor Manhattan, followed by a tease of the upcoming “Doomsday Clock’ crossover that should finally be the next step in this story that they’ve been teasing since the beginning of ‘Rebirth.’ Even with those narrative hiccups, Howard Porter’s art is note-perfect throughout the issue, delivering on everything in the script from the death of Thawne (which I think is his fourth?), the racing through the timestream and a really awesome-looking Jay Garrick and his amazing silver helmet…
THE BOTTOM LINE: TENSE, BUT THE ENDING ISN’T AN ENDING
I’m of two minds about this issue, as I enjoyed a lot of it, but still found the ending incredibly awkward and frustrating. The Flash #22 brings back an old favorite in a way that I didn’t expect, delivers on at least part of the premise set up by the big crossover schmageggi and does so with excellent art, shaking down for a still very impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall. If nothing else, the return of an old friend overcomes the story’s inability to nail the landing…