The third part of The Button, the story-line that has been promised to provide the next major steps in the ongoing mystery of Rebirth, Batman #22 performs spectacularly well in some respects, but slightly under-performs in another. Heading into this review, beware: there are significant spoilers.
The issue itself is great. Tightly written, with a powerful tension throughout and continuing the breakneck pacing of the last part of the crossover from The Flash #21, the story is a masterpiece in that respect from Joshua Williamson (who took over scripting of Batman from The Button collaborator Tom King for an issue). The art from Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson is superb too. Clean, bright where it should be, dark in the right places, and feeling like event-quality artwork throughout. All together, a tightly knit package that makes for a great read.
And it has a wonderful emotional moment in it, which feels like a potential real sticking point for the Bat-books to explore in the future, as Thomas Wayne tells his son Bruce to not be Batman. Many have told Bruce to stop being the Bat before, including surrogate father Alfred Pennyworth, but there has always been the alley. There have always been the pearls. There's always been a little boy, kneeling in a pool of his parents blood watching them be torn from his life forever. To have one of them back and tell him he doesn't have to be Batman, nay, shouldn't be Batman for him…this feels like this could be a huge emotional crux for Bruce Wayne going forward.
The part where the book falls down, is that it doesn't really provide any new momentum on the case of the titular button, or any steps forward in the mystery of Rebirth. It reiterates a lot of what we know: the button is important, the puppet-master seems to have malevolent intent, and has tremendous power over time itself. But we are no closer to finding out for sure who they are, how the button wound up in the Batcave or exactly what has happened to the time and continuity of the DC Universe.
This is a third part, and we may get some significant answers in the next, final part. For sure, this one does end with the twist of bringing back Reverse-Flash again, who we last saw dead as a doornail in the previous issue. But the promise has been revealing more about the button and Rebirth.
Still, the next, final part has been set up for potentially some epic reveals and revelations and action, so it will be great to see how it goes.