Spoilers ahead for Batman #21, on sale this week.
The first part of "The Button," the four-part crossover between Batman and The Flash in which the title characters attempt to discover the truth behind a mysterious button that popped out of the Speed Force last year and embedded itself in the rock wall of the Batcave, was released yesterday and has already raised more questions than it answers.
The biggest one of those questions, though? Who murdered the Reverse-Flash?
Eobard Thawne, the 25th Century villain known as the Reverse Flash, appeared seemingly out of nowhere after a charge passed between the Medusa Mask belonging to Psycho Pirate and the blood-smeared smiley face button. After a brief fight with Batman, Thawne took the button in his hand and inspected it -- which is when things got bad for him.
Fans will know, of course, that the bloodied button belongs to The Comedian, a masked adventurer in Watchmen around whose murder that whole story pivots. It was likely charged with some kind of energy due to its proximity to the Medusa Mask, since the Medusa Mask and Psycho Pirate always seem to be close to the action during DC's Crisis-level events. The Psycho-Pirate was one of the only characters who survived the original Crisis on Infinite Earths and remembered the multiverse after it was gone -- a storyline that was picked up in Grant Morrison's Animal Man and then again years later in Infinite Crisis.
It's when the Reverse-Flash comes into physical contact with the Comedian's button that he vanishes in a "BZZT" of blue energy and returns, consumed by blue flame and saying with his final breaths that he's seen God.
Of course, the only person who's there is Batman, and the Reverse-Flash himself had just knocked the Caped Crusader unconscious, so it's possible his message fell on deaf ears.
In any event, Eobard Thawne -- who had just been revived from his death at the hands of Flashpoint's Batman -- seemingly died following exposure to the blue energies emitted by Watchmen's Doctor Manhattan. Similar bursts of blue energy have been seen in Detective Comics (when Tim Drake appearently died, only to be instead transported to Mr. Oz's mysterious prison) and Action Comics (same, but for Mr. Mxyzptlk instead of Tim).
Why Mr. Oz -- widely believed to be Watchmen's Ozymandias -- and Doctor Manhattan would murder Thawne rather than casting him into prison with the rest of their charges (which also include Doomsday and a Superman villain named Prophecy) isn't clear; perhaps he was simply moving too fast to "catch" properly?
There's also the distinct possibility that there are two different kinds of blue energy at play: Manhattan's, and some kind of Speed Force energy, not unlike the blue lightning used by the older Barry Allen in the "Five Years Later" timeline seen during Futures End. That sort of energy might be accessible to The Rival, the Golden Age Reverse-Flash, who some have speculated may actually be the person on the cover of the fourth part of "The Button."
Regardless of who killed Eobard Thawne, the idea of his death as the fulcrum point in a Watchmen follow-up is an ironic bit of business, considering that it was the death of the Comedian that kicked off the events of Watchmen.
You can check out "The Button" at your local comic shop or get a digital copy here.
Two greatest detectives in the DC Universe unite to unravel the mystery behind a certain blood stained smiley face button stuck in the Batcave wall. However, what begins as a simple investigation soon turns deadly when the secrets of the button prove irresistible to an unwelcome third party — and it’s not who anyone suspects! This is a mystery woven throughout time, and the countdown starts here!