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Batman #21

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By Tom King, Jason Fabok & Brad Anderson

The highly publicized and much anticipated direct follow-up to the events set in motion in DC Universe: Rebirth finally arrives with “The Button!” Now, there have been moments throughout DC’s line the past year that connect with that comic, but this is the first storyline specifically addressing the button, which was the major cliffhanger of the relaunch book. Yes, the all-too-familiar button that belonged to Eddie Blake (aka The Comedian) from Watchmen. The very same one that Dan Dreiberg (aka Nite Owl) dropped onto his casket at his funeral…Yet, somehow it ended up in the Batcave…

The creative team on this book take the entire issue to chronicle moments that unfold over literally a few minutes and it’s spellbinding. The first several pages have a hockey game constantly being paralleled with moments in Gotham City. At first it may seem a fun nod to a sport artist Jason Fabok loves, but there is definitely more at play. There could be other interpretations of course, but it could be viewed as a call-back to the Tales of the Black Freighter comic that was part of the content of Watchmen or serve as a narrative device in a similar fashion. The actions that unfold during the hockey game and the commentator’s dialogue seem to operate on two levels: commenting on modern society’s fascination or thrill with violence and foreshadowing. Writer Tom King has this within the first five pages and the rest continue to up the ante. How the rest of the book is structured is a fresh and inventive use of this visual medium and Fabok runs with it. Just like the artists on this issue, King doesn’t waste a single panel or word bubble – it all has significance and nothing is superfluous. That’s the definition of true art.

Once again, Jason Fabok and colorist Brad Anderson show that they are a phenomenal artistic duo. The wait for their return was well worth it, albeit short-lived since they’re only doing two issues in this crossover. Fabok pulls a page out of Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen book and structured a lot of the pages with the nine panel layout closely associated with the seminal work. He is able to incorporate so much detail and clarity into those small panels, it’s dumbfounding. So many artists in a similar situation would end up rendering what would almost equate stick figures with just outlines for a background, yet Jason Fabok is able to gorgeously and distinctly depict Flash fighting multiple samuroids simultaneously (yes, you read that correctly – samuroids) in one panel. Also, he continues to excel in body language and facial expressions. There are plenty of moments in this issue that illustrate pain, but it almost becomes painful to read it. If that’s not powerful storytelling, then may Doctor Manhattan strike me down.

Anderson is the perfect topping to Fabok’s pencils and ink cake. He fleshes out the pages to full vitality and texture. Even the most simple or mundane elements in a panel are given attention and care, such as psycho-pirate’s mask. The sheen Brad Anderson adds to that item in panels wasn’t necessary, but the fact that he did, makes all difference. He never covers up the minute details or inks in Jason Fabok’s small panels. Anderson draws readers in, but allows them to truly appreciate all the work they have put into this comic.

What a way to kick-off a crossover! Especially, one deeply relevant to the DCU. This comic can’t be recommended enough. Another pro of this book is that it’s relatively self-contained; one would really only need to have read or be familiar with the plot of DC Universe: Rebirth. Don’t miss as the doomsday clock continues to tick with consummate creatives leading the way to a bright rebirth for DC.

Perfect.10
What a way to kick-off a crossover! Don’t miss as the doomsday clock continues to tick with consummate creatives leading the way to a bright rebirth for DC.
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