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Review – Batman #22 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Story: Joshua Williamson, Tom King
Artist: Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson (Colours)
Release Date: 3rd May 2017


Flashpoint Batman is one the finest “what if?” characters to enter DC’s alternate realities pantheon (Ok, it’s an alternate history in this case, but you get the idea!), and the cover art of this issue with ‘Batman’ standing over the lifeless, wide-eyed corpses of his family, heightened my excitement for part three of ‘The Button’ further than I had thought possible.

I’m certainly not alone in holding The Flashpoint Paradox in high regard, so to use arguably the coolest element from that story as a platform to deepen the mystery surrounding as-yet-unidentified characters from seminal classic Watchmen is quite simply a masterstroke. A massive burden of responsibility must be felt by those using such beloved stories as a vehicle for a new adventure, but happily the Joshua Williamson/Tom King tag team are absolutely nailing this conceit.

In this issue it’s revealed that the alternate history created by the Flashpoint Paradox continues to exist, even though it should have collapsed when The Flash rectified his mistake. Someone, or something has manipulated events such that Bruce and Barry find themselves in that reality. Bruce is able to interact and even fight alongside his father, but more importantly, Thomas is able to say much more to Bruce than he did in the letter he sent after the events of Flashpoint. This interaction provides us with a clue as to the potential ‘why’ of the currently unfolding events, but we still have no concrete evidence as to the ‘who’, ‘what’, or ‘how’.

Herein lies the beauty in how well this story has been constructed thus far. It’s like the best kind of blockbuster; the action keeps you on the edge of your seat, and you have a fair idea of how it’s going to play out, but at the same time there’s enough going on under the surface to engage the intellect and keep you guessing. Williamson takes the lead for this issue and his script is tight, pared down to essential story components and on-point characterisation. The real skill comes in juggling the frenetic, unrelenting nature of the story with moments of introspection and genuine emotion between father and son, which he handles admirably.

This balance is also reflected in the art by Jason Fabok, a perfect choice for this type of epic scale action. Thomas’s monologue on the brink of defeat, and seeing both ‘Batmen’ pull down their masks and take on a swarm of Amazons and Atlanteans are just some of the highlights in a superbly drawn and composed issue, all done in his trademark cinematic style. He’s backed by long-time collaborator Brad Anderson, who strikes a fine balance between vibrant energy and grounded intensity, with clever use of reflective light and shade throughout.

Ultimately, it’s all about balance. Past and present, light and dark, etc., and the teams involved in this arc are performing their own balancing act by delivering an engrossing, visually spectacular adventure that gives a respectful nod to what has come before, whilst delivering something fresh, exciting, and downright intriguing.

Rating: 5/5.


PREVIEW ARTWORK
[Click to Enlarge]


MDAVThe Writer of this piece was: Martin Doyle
You can follow Martin on Twitter


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