Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Tom King
Art: Jason Fabok
Colours: Brad Anderson
Inks: Jason Fabok & Jay Leisten
Letters: Deron Bennett
Release Date: 19th April 2017
What began in Rebirth is finally brought back into focus as Batman and Flash continue to muse over the meaning of the smiley button found in the Batcave. When an uninvited guest visits Bruce in what is meant to be the most secret location in the DCU, a brutal battle breaks out as the Dark Knight overplays his hand.
Tom King has been doing some incredible work on the main Batman series, bringing a dark yet exciting feel to the book. He is not afraid to put Bruce through the wringer both emotionally and physically, and we get to see the cracks in some of the Dark Knight’s preparation here, showing us that even Batman can’t be prepared for every eventuality. The surprise arrival of a familiar enemy this issue is too perfect. It shows a fight that Bruce could never win directly and also what happens when he relies too much on his intellect. We alps catch just a fleeting glimpse of a Flashpoint event and my mind is racing trying to work out just where this thread will lead.
Jason Fabok paints us a dark and sinister version of the Batcave which is the main setting this issue and proves once again that he is a master of bringing still drawings to life. Whether it’s the hockey match on TV or Bruce fiddling with the button there is a real sense of movement between the panels but it’s the battle itself that really astounds. The fight between Bruce and his assailant is one of the most kinetic in recent memory as they trade blows and are thrown from one end of the cave to the other. Glass smashes, blood splatters and this visceral sequence ends with a truly satisfying conclusion.
Brad Anderson gives Fabok’s art the pop it needs to really give the story its impact. Without running into spoilers there is a lot of energy and light here that is given an almost ethereal presence. This is the vital ingredient that allows a two-dimensional panel to become so much more and Anderson uses it like a master.
As you are reading this the fact that I am dancing around certain plot points may be infuriating but trust me, you do not want this one to be spoiled for you. Reality and time has been unreliable at best in the DCU since Flashpoint and Convergence and you should expect things to become even more unravelled as Rebirth continues. Like Pandora, the unseen manipulators lurking in the shadows (Mr Oz for one) are slowly being dragged into the light and the two greatest detectives in the DCU are on the case.
While new readers can jump right in here there are a lot of events in motion that could prove confusing if they are not up to date. I would recommend reading through Flashpoint if you haven’t already (just the main story) and the first few issues of both the Batman and Flash Rebirth stories if you want to get the most from this. While none of this is essential, Flashpoint will help to explain the motivation behind the villain of this tale and the Rebirth issues are the very beginning of this case.
This also leads directly into the nature of this story, it is a 4-part cross over event running between Batman and The Flash. In order to get the most from this tale you are going to have to commit to reading both of these books for the next month. In a way, this shows the continuity between both books and it’s great to see Bruce and Barry working together. On the downside if you have no budget left for an additional book you may have to bench something else or risk losing out.
With all that said this is one of the most exciting stories to in the DC line up right now and I can’t wait to see how the next issue of The Flash continues the events started here. This issue alone is action packed and drops a few breadcrumbs, hinting at something much larger on the horizon. We are already witnessed first-hand the machinations of the mysterious Mr Oz and I can’t help but speculate about at his involvement in these events. Needless to say, I am on board for the duration and eagerly await the second part of this tale to unfold.
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The writer of this piece was: Dave MacPhail
John Tweets from @ShinKagato