SPOILERS ahead for The Flash #22 the final part of "The Button."
The scene offers little in the way of how, exactly, the characters from Watchmen will end up on a collision course with the DC Universe, but does give a sense of how Johns and Frank may approach the heady prospect of following up what is generally accepted as the greatest superhero story of all time.
The two-page epilogue, which appears to be drawn by Frank, starts with the Comedian's bloody smiley face button, seemingly floating in space. The perspective of the page zooms in on it until it's a blur of yellow and red, and finally just a panel of red, in a reversal of the first page of Watchmen #1, which famously began with blood and panned out and up to reveal the button lying in a gutter.
The second page takes that structure more literally, starting from a field of red and zooming out -- but rather than revealing the Comedian's button, the red and yellow turn out to be a part of the shield on Superman's costume.
The final panel, revealing Superman essentially from neck to abdomen and focusing on the crest of the House of El, feels very much like Identity Crisis's frequent decisions to focus on the iconography of the heroes, making their legend more important than even the people within the costumes by focusing more on the message than the messenger, so to speak.
If you were going to argue that the Identity Crisis parallel is intentional, and that Johns is trying to play on DC's history of big (and cynical) event comics, it should also be noted that besides a knowing nod to Watchmen #1, the Superman logo reveal could be perceived as an homage to The Dark Knight Returns, in which Superman's appearance is introduced with a an effect that zooms in from an American Flag to a tight blur of red and white before the white turns to yellow, and zooms back out to reveal the Man of Steel's sigil.
The nine-panel grid used in each of the two pages is familiar to Watchmen fans as the structure that bound the series together. ComicBook.com has previously compared the creative necessity that writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons created for themselves in that series to Iambic pentameter.
The quote in the final panel, reminiscent of the literary and musical quotes Moore used in Watchmen, comes from August Strindberg's The Red Room, a satirical novel that features a young idealist confronted with corruption and hypocrisy after he leaves his office job to become a journalist.
Given what we know about Doomsday Clock -- that it is largely a clash of ideas between Superman (an idealistic journalist) and Doctor Manhattan (the representative of Watchmen's compromised, corrupt world) -- this seems like a fairly appropriate reference to make.
You can get The Flash #22 at your local comic shop today, or buy yourself a digital copy on ComiXology, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.
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