After months of intrigue from fans, the first big clues as to just what the hell is going on with Watchmen’s integration into the DC universe are slowly being revealed in a new storyline stretching across the pages of Batman and The Flash. This week’s entry didn’t offer much in the way of major revelations, but it did have one hell of a twist.
Today’s Flash #21—by Joshua Williamson, Howard Porter, Hi-Fi, and Steve Wands—picks up right where last week’s issue of Batman left off: with Barry Allen arriving at the Batcave to find the bloodied, unconscious body of Batman and the smoking husk of his greatest foe, Eobard Thawne, lying on the floor (with the Comedian’s smiling button nowhere in sight).
While Bruce attempts to recover from his hellish fight with Reverse-Flash and Barry catalogs the scene of his nemesis’ death, the button itself seems like a distant priority for the two detectives. The mysteries behind it, though, continue to linger, as does Thawne’s attraction to the Button, as Barry reveals one very intriguing point of discussion: he’s beginning to get visions about a helmet, and not just any helmet...
Barry’s visions seem to so far be heralding more elements from the pre-Flashpoint universe making a return, if Thawne is anything to go by. Could the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick—or even just his classic Golden Age helmet—be next?
We don’t get much time to ponder, though, as Barry re-introduces another familiar Flash artifact not seen in a very long time. Revealing that the same radiation the button was emanating was also all over Thawne’s corpse when he died—indicating that whoever killed him comes from the same place the button did, continuing to imply Dr. Manhattan offed Thawne—Barry decides there’s only one way to track the radiation:
The cosmic treadmill, making its first appearance in quite some time. Flash—joined by Batman, who’s dragged his ailing body to follow Flash, because he’s Batman and that’s how he rolls—activates the machine and the pair go flying through time and space, witnessing realities weirdly familiar to their own, but ultimately the pair find themselves flung to the Batcave. At first, Bruce thinks they’ve landed back in time a bit, to his earliest days as the Dark Knight, but the pair quickly discover that they’re not back in time, because they meet the Cave’s occupant:
Thomas Wayne, the Batman of the Flashpoint universe, created when Barry’s attempted to tweak the timeline, and which eventually brought about the New 52 reboot. Batman and Flash are, for now, trapped in a reality from before the recreation of their own: and most importantly, Bruce Wayne has been reunited with the father he never really got to know.
But why were they brought to Flashpoint if they were following the radiation of the Comedian’s button? Could Dr. Manhattan’s sinister plans for the DC universe have started there? And more importantly, why did he start there if he did? There’s still a ways to go before we have our heads wrapped around this situation, but for now, the Flash and Batman have got another mystery to solve: how are they going to get back home?