The jaw-dropper the Flash #21 left readers with made this issue a 100% must-have, and thankfully it delivered in the best way.
Barry and Bruce are in the Batcave, being observed by none other than the Flashpoint Batman, Dr. Thomas Wayne. The elder Wayne is just as weary as he was portrayed near the end of the Event that preceded the New 52, and the reader sees just how ground down he really was: the cave was lined with explosives, and he was right about to detonate the whole damn thing – himself included – when the lightning brought Batman and Flash to him.
We all know that Jason Fabok is a supremely talented artist, a guy whose work lifted the Justice League book to unprecedented heights during the Darkseid Wars, but to be completely honest his work here is the stuff of comic book legend: you feel the skeptic distrust of Bruce, the yearning of love in Thomas, and the complete disbelief Barry has as he senses the vibrations of this world. Fabok is entering rarified air here, lifted even higher by colorist Brad Anderson.
And lest we forget, Tom King and Joshua Middleton are writing an intensely interesting yarn. The part of this story that literally made me say, aloud as if my dog know what I was talking about, “the fuck…?” – Barry coming to the conclusion that the Flashpoint reality IS THE HOME-BASE REALITY OF THE DC UNIVERSE.
He confirms that all the other visions they saw were ghosts of timelines, that the stories there happened. It’s a lot to drop on the reader, but the gravity of it sinks in and you wonder what on Earth can these two detectives do against a god-like being who can manipulate space and time like this.
You’ve probably already read or seen spoilers concerning the talk that Thomas has with Bruce, but if you aren’t aware I’d rather you read the damn thing before a putz like me can take away your future heartbreak. I will say this: it’s one of the most gut-punchingly powerful statements ever made to Batman, and one has to wonder how much it’s going to echo into his being.
One also has to applaud the sublime lettering job performed by Deron Bennet here, who emphasizes each scene with the perfect choices of balloons and fonts. Seriously, you don’t realize how much of an impact a letterer has until you see a bad one in action (kind of like a baseball umpire), but his subtle choices in exclamatory balloons or bold…they’re just inspired.
The emotional resonance of this crossover continues to haunt readers; It’s impossible not to feel anything when you see Dr. Thomas Wayne interact with Bruce, or the panic Flash feels when he’s within the time stream. The entire creative team is operating on another level, and this issue is one of the highlights of Rebirth with an honest-to-god set of breath-taking moments. I cannot wait to see how this story wraps up.