Title Batman 21 (2016)
Story by Tom King
Art by Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: 4/19/17
DC Rebirth has been hanging as an unsolved mystery for almost a year now. Finally, DC is deciding to work on solving the riddles of the retconned The New 52.
As the title correctly states Batman 21 revolves entirely around the mystery of the button found by Batman at the end of DC Universe Rebirth. Subtle hints have been guiding us towards what to expect and Geoff Johns made a few passing remarks but overall the information on DC Rebirth has been sparse. In this more hints seemingly alluding to the Watchmen have been dropped though these hints do little to clear up the confusion. Actually, I believe they just make things more complicated for now as there was little explanation as the comic went for the in the moment vibe. Though I have been critical on King his use of time acted as a metronome giving in depth per second detail of each panel. The use of slowing down time to milliseconds during the middle of the issue when Batman was fighting against the Reverse-Flash intensified the story. King makes this comic not only around Rebirth adding in characters in his Batman run like Saturn Girl and Psycho-Pirate alluding to the overarching importance of Rebirth.
Though this issue opened more questions than answers we are at least seeing that DC is working on explaining the reasoning behind Rebirth. Having Flash be late to help a brutal hockey fight works to fit into the story but doesn’t go out of Flash’s character. Next week’s issue of the Flash is going to have a crack at trying to further the explanation around the button.
With Fabok in charge of the art styling in this issue, you can expect good art. I was not disappointed as Fabok showed me that a standard 9-panel layout can actually contribute rather than being a standard page contributing little. The opening Splash with Batman looking at multiple monitors of the Watchmen button had a very detailed look to it. Fabok uses thin lining to include more detail though most of the imaging would have been blended in with the background without the notable coloring by Brad Anderson. Anderson used contrasting colors of the Reverse Flash and Batman to give the art an eye-pleasing appeal. The use of the timer and the 9-panel layout makes the book read like frames of a camera easily being able to be animated in your head The 9 panels are usually executed well and have each panel holding weight some panels are exact duplicates trying to give the issue more time sensitive issue. I understand the effect he was going for and works to some regard however it can’t shake off a filler feel.
If you were looking for answers to DC Rebirth you will be greatly disappointed in Batman 21. King does little to explain while adding more hints to further muddling the DC Universe. The use of a timer not only signifies they are running out of time but adds tension as Batman faces off against the Reverse-Flash. Fabok uses a 9-page panel to snapshot every moment culminating in the surprising ending.