With the cover of The Flash #22 revealing that either Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick or his Reverse, the supervillain known as The Rival, will return in two weeks, all eyes were on this week's second part of "The Button" to see whether there were any clues as to which one would be around and how.
The story, which teams Batman and The Flash and sees them covering the murder of Eobard Thawne -- a crime seemingly connected to the bloody smiley face button from Watchmen -- featured a shocking ending, an even more shocking number of Easter eggs, and an opening sequence that should thrill fans of the long-missing classic take on the Justice Society of America.
Like last week, when Imra from the Legion of Super-Heroes showed up at Arkham, this issue of The Flash follows up on another plot thread left dangling in last year's DC Universe: Rebirth. This time, it's Johnny Thunder, who can remember the pre-Flashpoint reality in which he and others were members of a World War II-era superhero team...but can't seem to get his powers to work or make anyone believe him.
The presence of an actual Justice Society member, though, is just the first indication that the JSA will have a presence in this story...and has had a presence in the DC Universe, whether or not the superheroes seem to reference or remember it.
Here are some other things we spotted in the issue...
The Flash #21 is on sale now at your local comic book store, or you can get a digital copy here.
DOES HOURMAN COUNT?
First of all, we're playing it a little fast and loose with this one, since the 853rd-Century android Hourman is hardly an original Justice Society member.
That said, he was a member of the team for a good chunk of time, and in the big Easter egg bonanza that was the Justice League "lost and found," fans could get a peek at both the Worlogog -- something he possessed during his time as guardian of time -- and his original Timeship, pictured above, which allowed him to travel the currents of DC's reality.
STARMAN'S GRAVITY ROD
Ted Knight, the Starman of the Justice Society of America, got his powers from a "gravity rod" he designed, and used it to battle injustice for generations. After the years caught up with him, Knight retired, handing off the costume and cosmic rod to his son David.
David was killed on his first night of patrol, forcing Knight's other son -- Jack, who never really wanted to be a superhero and certainly wouldn't wear his father's costume -- to take on the role of Starman in order to avenge his brother's death. He did so with a "cosmic rod," another version of the gravity rod his father had never regularly used.
With the cosmic rod damaged early in the run, Jack used a larger, odder-looking Cosmic Staff, one of his father's earlier designs, during his time as Starman. It's the cosmic staff that he passed along to Courtney Whitmore (Stargirl) upon his retirement.
DOCTOR FATE'S HELMET
The helmet of Doctor Fate, formally the Helmet of Nabu, is a golden helmet enchanted by Nabu which can bond with a human host to form a powerful magical being. The most common form this being takes is Doctor Fate, one of the DC Universe's most powerful mystics.
What's interesting, of course, is that the Helmet of Nabu currently has a host, and it wasn't long ago that a low-selling-but-critically-acclaimed Doctor Fate series written by longtime DC exec Paul Levitz was on the stands.
Does this mean there's a second helmet of Nabu? A second Doctor Fate? Or that Khalid Nassour has given up the artifact? We'll have to find out down the road, because all we see is the helmet sitting in the Justice League lost & found.
The most obvious JSA nod in the issue (again, if you don't count Johnny Thunderbolt or the Timeship) was when The Flash raced past a trio of cowls/costumes.
How could those versions of the characters be represented in the League's lost and found if they never existed in this continuity? Well, that's a question for (hopefully) the next issue.