Batman #21: The Button Part One
Written by: Tom King
Art by: Jason Fabok
The long awaited crossover event “The Button” has finally kicked off with Batman #21. This story arc is one of the most anticipated comic book events of the year, and will follow Batman and The Flash as they investigating the button Batman found in DC Comics Rebirth #1.
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD
An event like this needs a strong opening to get readers invested, and keep them coming back for the other issues. Batman #21 delivers just that. Almost the entire issue covers a timespan of just one minute, and it’s absolutely thrilling. At the beginning of the issue, before the main minute begins, we see Saturn Girl in prison watching a hockey game. She becomes hysterical after she realizes this is THE game where they “kill him.” This is a short sequence, but seems like it will be important in later issues.
Then we get to the Batcave, where Batman is watching the same hockey game. Batman calls The Flash and asks him to meet to discuss the button. The Flash is in the middle of a battle, but tells Batman he’ll be there in one minute. Several seconds later, Batman notices a presence in the cave and assumes The Flash has arrived early, but in reality the Reverse Flash has made his way back from death, and begins to battle Bruce. The rest of the issue follows their battle with Bruce trying to hold out until The Flash can arrive.
For an opening issue, I was blown away by the intensity of this story. The issue uses a nine panel grid on most pages, which is likely an homage to Watchmen. But it also serves the story well, as each panel is used as a countdown from the second Batman hangs up with The Flash. As my eye followed each panel, another second (or several seconds) dropped, and the anticipation grew to see what would happen when the clock hit 0.
Batman’s dialogue made it clear that this was a Tom King issue. His insurmountable dedication when faced with a life or death situation reminded me a lot of Batman’s fight with Bane in issue #20. I’ve really been enjoying King’s run on this book, and this issue highlights what I think he does best: writing suspenseful, gripping stories that leave me wanting more.
On top of stellar writing, Jason Fabok’s art is the perfect touch to tell this story. The art in this issue is what makes the story work so well. My favorite page is during the battle between Reverse Flash and Batman, where each panel alternates coloring every time Batman gets hit. With each hit, the figures became black silhouettes with a bright yellow background and the Reverse Flash’s red lightning is accented. The result makes each panel have the same color palette as the button. When I noticed that, I couldn’t stop grinning at how beautiful that page looked.
This issue was a lot of fun, and definitely made me excited to see what happens next week in Flash #21. As cool as it was to see this all unravel in one minute, it did make me a little nervous about how much will be crammed into the next 3 issues in this crossover to compensate. Of course, that’s just speculation and doesn’t change how well this issue worked.
10 / 10
Batman #21 is a perfect example of how to set up a major comic book event. The story is gripping, the art is amazing, and this issue will leave you dying to read the next chapter.