Batman #21, written by Tom King and Josh Williamson and drawn by Jason Fabok was an exercise in formalist structure. A smiley face in some form or other on every page, literally or figuratively, with panels used to convey time structure, with beats, that all echoed Watchmen but did new tricks along the way. If the story was going to reflect Watchmen, it was going to do so in the structure as well as the blood splatter.
But Batman #22… Tom King has stepped away from. He has let Josh Williamson write the whole thing, following Geoff Johns plot, taken his name off and has moved on, And reading Batman 22, you can see why. So much doesn't make sense. So much is exposition followed by cool scenes that just don't seem to make logical sense. One might surmise that King threw up his hands and said "stuff this for a game of soldiers."
Which is apt, because this is a game of soldiers. With Aquaman and Wonder Woman's soldiers descending on Thomas Wayne's Batcave in the remains of the Flashpoint timeline, for the current Batman and the Flash to turn up, crash landing on the cosmic treadmill that brought them there, directed by the Watchmen smiley button….
When your characters start to argue that they're fictional…
When they question why the plot is the way it is…
When they argue how little things makes sense… sometimes it feels like a cry for help. And when they aid in that sense, as we know, an army is descending on the Batcave. And there is one weapon available, which happens to be the one that a) shot Bruce and Martha Wayne or b) shot Jonathan and Martha Wayne, depending on your timeline…. is it really wise to do this?
Oh and of course that's not the only weapon you have. You have the fastest man alive, who could snatch every warrior's sword out of their hand, knock them out with sonic booms, vibrate them through the floor, shake their brains into unconsciousness, all in the time it takes to punch one of them?
Except you put him on repair duty while you have an old man and a severely beaten younger man take on an army. Oh but Bruce Wayne seems to be a lot better now somehow too.
Against an army of Wonder Women and Atlanteans. After dropping the one gun you had. Seriously now, is everyone holding the stupid ball all of a sudden?
Doesn't that feel like Tom King? Just as this issue has the remains of Flashpoint, does it also bear the remains of whatever Tom King brought to the issue? Or is it Josh doing a damn fine impression? Either way, this should be the scene that will be flashbacked to many a time. If Bruce Wayne is meant to be Batman in memory of his parents, this might turn that around. Or redefine him. Or make him try and commit suicide again.
Batman #22 by Josh Williamson and Jason Fabok is published today from DC Comics.