So as DC Comics presumed (or caused?), pages of Flash #22, out this Wednesday, have been leaking hard and fast.
Flash #22 by Josh Williamson and Neil Googe, from a plot by Geoff Johns, sees Batman and The Flash running through the reality stream encountering Reverse Flash and, yes, Jay Garrick, as the cover attests to.
But it also gives us the first on-panel reappearance of a certain character. And some rather familiar words. A technique seen in DC Rebirth Special #1, as well.
That's the one. So what now? Well, towards the end of the issue, after the big contretemps between Batman, The Flash, and the reality of the multiverse they find themselves in, someone lends a hand…and says something familiar.
Note that Dr. Manhattan is changing the red blood on the yellow Smiley face button to blue.
We then get to see the Smiley Face suspended in the black, but seemingly going backwards in time — so that the blood comes off it.
And then, it becomes the Superman shield. The red, the blue, and the yellow. And a quote from August Strindberg from The Red Room, an early Swedish satirical novel in which a young idealistic civil servant, Arvid Falk, leaves the drudgery of bureaucracy to become a journalist and author. As he explores various social activities — politics, publishing, theatre, philanthropy, and business — he finds more hypocrisy and political corruption than he thought possible. He takes refuge with a group of "bohemians", who meet in a red dining room in Berns Salonger to discuss these matters.
Leaving bureaucracy to become a writer? And finds it's all awful? What could it all mean? Did Manhattan create Superman? Did Superman create Watchmen? What are the spaces in between? Who are the puppets, characters, or the creators being told what to do? Bring on the meta.
And yes, the panel-to-panel zooming in from Smiley to Shield is rather Dark Knight…
Flash #22 is published on Wednesday. And, yes. there's lots more to it than a rogue smiley…