In Review: Batman #22

A pointless story with strong art makes this one of Rebirth's most mixed issues.

The covers: The third part of “The Button” has three covers to track down. The Regular cover is by Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson. It features Thomas Wayne, dressed as Batman, looking down at the dead bodies of his son and wife. Nice layout for the cover with Batman standing strongly in the center, with enough differences in his costume to have new readers wondering what’s going on with this iconic character. Good coloring on this as well, with the red on Bats drawing the reader in, while the ultra white pearls pull the reader to the bodies at the bottom. The Variant cover by Tim Sale and Brennan Wagner looks like the work of amateurs. The hero is cartoonish, with his father behind him also not looking well. The colors drain the life out of this, with the lead character a gray blob. This is an extreme disappointment. There’s also a Lenticular Variant cover, and that’s the one I picked up. Also by Fabok and Anderson, when the reader moves the comic the image changes from Thomas looking upon the bodies of Bruce and Martha to the Reverse-Flash looking down upon a weeping Barry before his dead mother. Outstanding. Overall grades: Regular A, Variant D, and Lenticular A+ 

The story: Thomas Wayne is reminiscing on his life. He recounts how Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s war is spilling from Europe to America. How the Flash appeared and told him that the world Thomas knew wasn’t real. How he helped that hero to get home, so that the son he lost would live. But his world continued to survive and now the Amazons and Atlanteans are storming Wayne Manor. He’s rigged his home to explode and is set to push the button until he hears a noise and things pick up from last week’s The Flash #21. Joshua Williamson and Tom King collaborated on this third part of “The Button”, with Williamson writing the script. What follows is an uncomfortable Wayne family reunion, with plenty of angst from both father and son. The Flash’s cosmic treadmill has been destroyed by their arrival, so the Batmen have to protect him from the two sided attack on the mansion as he rebuilds it. Increasing the pressure is the realization that the Flashpoint universe is finally being erased from existence. This was a drawn out story that could have been told in half the space. It was really milked. If one is a fan of Batman, the drama might be entertaining, but as a long time reader, this was old territory that does nothing new. A character returns on the final three pages that was interesting, but has nothing to do with Thomas or Flashpoint. This story does nothing to further the story of the button, save finally put the Flashpoint Universe to bed. This could be skipped and nothing lost. Pointless. Overall grade: D-

The art: Jason Fabok both pencilled and inked this issue. The visuals are incredibly strong. The opening page is a four panel sequence that summarizes Wayne’s contribution to Flashpoint and the Flash and it has an epic feel. The second page introduces Thomas Wayne’s present state and it’s an intense visual; he’s in the Batcave and is obviously suffering from internal conflict. The three panels that show the invasion of Wayne Manor are also well done, with the figures primarily in silhouette, but with just enough showing to identify them as Atlantean and Amazonian. Page 4 is a full paged splash that introduces Flash and Batman to this setting and both characters look great. It’s really impressive that Fabok was able to fit Thomas onto the page. When Thomas takes off his cowl he’s close enough to Bruce to look his father, yet different enough to be a unique character, as opposed to when other artists rely on a colorist to simply color the character’s hair gray to age him. Page 8 is also a full page splash and the three heroes’ reaction to what’s about to occur told a lot about them: they are calm because they are used to being in such a situation. When the Waynes put their cowls back on the panel carries a lot of power: it’s a definite signal to the reader that it’s about to go down. 10 and 11 is a double-paged splash of the Bats in action, while at the bottom of this huge illustration is the Flash working. This looks great. 13 starts with an image that reminded me of Convergence from a few years ago. I was thrilled to see the return of a character on 18 and the full paged splash on 20 is killer! The visuals are the highpoint of this issue. Overall grade: A

The colors: Matching the artwork are the terrific colors by Brad Anderson. Thomas Wayne’s world is primarily in the dark, to equal his depressed state. The only bright spot of colors in the first three pages is the Flash and the colorful blues during his exit. The Flash and Bruce’s arrival brings colors back to Thomas, especially with the lightning that’s constantly around the Scarlet Speedster. Anderson also uses color to create depth, as shown on Page 8, with lighter colors employed to show distance. On 10 and 11 a character’s dialogue balloon is outlined in red to have it stand out, and the Flash’s panels are like an explosion of color as he races to complete a task. The lack of colors also creates emotion, as 13 – 14 and 16 – 17 do. The final three pages are a very different setting and the colors reflect this. Good work on every page from Anderson. Overall grade: A

The letters: Deron Bennett creates narration and dialogue (the same font), sounds, yells, the story’s title, and the book’s credits. I was disappointed that Bennett used the same font for narration and dialogue, depending instead upon the shape of the text’s balloons to be signposts for the reader to recognize what’s being read. The dialogue is large in every panel to be easily read, but it’s the sounds where Bennett really shines. There are several good ones, with Page 2’s KKKRACKK my favorite. Overall grade: A-

The final line: A pointless story with strong art makes this one of Rebirth’s most mixed issues. This installment could be skipped and nothing lost. Very, very disappointing. Overall grade: C

To purchase a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Batman-2016-22/digital-comic/479700?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC9pdGVtU2xpZGVy

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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