With this month's crossover event "The Button" in The Flash and Batman, DC are revisiting at least one concept from Flashpoint - the brutal, grief-stricken Thomas Wayne version of Batman.
"The Button" storyline crosses through The Flash and Batman during the month of April and promises to explore some of the biggest mysteries of DC's "Rebirth" era - particularly the iconic Watchmen button that showed up in the Batcave in last May's DC Universe: Rebirth #1.
Batman writer Tom King has revealed on Twitter that although he's writing the scripts for "The Button" with Flash scribe Joshua Williamson, the story's plot was created by Geoff Johns, the DC executive who wrote both DC Universe: Rebirth #1 and the original Flashpoint story.
As details and clue emerge concerning "The Button," it's looking like readers will not only get to see the return of fan-favorite character Jay Garrick and a battle with Eobard Thawne, but the story should also reunite Bruce Wayne with the Flashpoint version of his father Thomas Wayne, who became Batman in that alternate universe.
Who is Flashpoint Batman?
The return of Flashpoint Batman doesn't make much sense on the surface, because the Flashpoint universe itself was depicted as being annihilated at the end of that story (back when the "New 52" was created).
If you missed the 2011 mini-series Flashpoint, the story centers around Barry Allen, who wakes up in a world much like his own, but also very different. He finds out that this alternate timeline - the Flashpoint universe - was created when Barry traveled back in time and prevented his mother from being murdered. Now Barry's mother is alive, but a bunch of other stuff is seriously messed up.
Among the oddities is this world's version of Batman. In this universe, Bruce Wayne was the only one gunned down in Crime Alley. Martha and Thomas survived.
In the Flashpoint universe, Thomas was so upset by his son's murder that he became Batman, but he's a much more brutal and vengeful version of the character. Martha, on the other hand, became this universe's version of the Joker, cutting her cheeks into a smile.
Why's he back?
Thanks to DC's variant covers for "The Button," readers have known that Flashpoint Batman is going to be part of the crossover.
But it wasn't until the end of March's The Flash #19 that readers knew why. The final page showed that Eobard Thawne has not only been freed from Iron Heights Penitentiary, but he has now remembered the events of Flashpoint.
And because the villain was killed by Thomas Wayne Batman during Flashpoint, he's ready to take revenge on Bruce Wayne.
The teaser at the end of Flash #19 promised that the story is being continued in April 19's Batman #21, which is the first issue of "The Button" four-issue crossover.
However, there are two things to notice about the variant covers for "The Button." First, one of the covers has both Bruce and Thomas together, hinting that the two characters will probably meet during the four-issue crossover. Second, something about the Flashpoint universe has changed, because it appears that Martha died in this Batman's universe.
Why does this matter?
When Barry Allen tried to put the world back in order at the end of Flashpoint, one artifact from that alternate timeline survived - a letter from father to son.
During his time in the Flashpoint universe, Barry needed help from Thomas and revealed the truth about the changes to the world. Thomas was hopeful that his son Bruce would live again if Barry could put the timeline back. But he wrote a letter to Bruce, a letter that still exists in the current Batcave.
The Batcave is also the location where readers first saw a Watchmen smiley face button show up during last May's DC Universe: Rebirth #1. One of the biggest mysteries of the "Rebirth" universe is what role the Watchmen characters played in the changes to DC's continuity.
Although readers had been previously under the impression that Barry created the "New 52" universe at the end of Flashpoint, Wally West's return last year revealed that there was someone else involved - someone who was accused of stealing 10 years from the DC Unvierse and manipulated the timeline to create the "New 52."
Now the division between the post-Crisis era before Flashpoint and the ensuing "New 52" universe that came after is dissolving, and Batman and the Flash have been investigating what might have caused that division.
With "The Button," DC promises to explore the meaning behind the Watchmen button in a story involving Eobard Thawne, Jay Garrick, the Flash, Batman and Thomas Wayne. Whatever the connection between the Watchmen button and the Flashpoint letter - if there is one - readers can expect an interesting reunion between father and son and the unraveling of the mysteries that have been driving "Rebirth" since it began.