Spoilers ahead for The Flash #22.
As "The Button"'s ending in this week's The Flash #22 gave new revelations about Dr. Manhattan's involvement in the DCU, there weren't a lot of definitive answers about questions presented more than a year ago when "Rebirth" launched.
However, there were several important lessons we can learn from the "The Button"'s storyline. Although this isn't an exhaustive list by any means, here are five key takeaways Newsarama found from reading "The Button."
The Justice Society of America Is Alive & Well.... Somewhere
It started with the inclusion of Johnny Thunder and ended with an appearance by the much-missed Jay Garrick Flash.
And in between, it became apparent that the JSA is somehow still alive, but trapped in an alternate timeline (or another sort of prison) - similar to what had happened to Wally West.
Although Jay Garrick is the only character who actually showed up, the implication of Johnny Thunder's appearance and Jay Garrick's existence is that past characters from other DC timelines can and will be able to get back to the present-day DCU.
Of course, in Jay's case, the writers are pointing toward him needing a different lightning rod to make it back to the DCU. Any guesses who or what that will be?
The Future Is Hinging On This Event
With a name like "Doomsday Clock," the obvious implication is that the end of the world is near. The real Doomsday Clock is a status report maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that indicates how close the world is to armageddon (and it's currently at "two and a half minutes to midnight").
The concept has always been part of the Watchmen universe. The Doomsday Clock was a recurring visual element of the original Watchmen series, with each issue featuring the hands moving closer to midnight.
But "The Button" also made it clear that the future of the DCU hinges on what's happening in this story, as Saturn Girl showed up in the first issue of the crossover. A part of the DCU's future (if she's anything like her pre-"Rebirth" self), Saturn Girl is now convinced that the "Legion will die" and "no one will save us." This is quite a change from her statement at the end of DC Universe: Rebirth #1 that "everything's going to be all right" because she has "seen the future."
Whatever is happening right now, particularly the events of "The Button" and everything related to it, are leading to some cataclysmic future.
Plus, attentive readers may have noticed that the Doomsday Clock at the end of "The Button" was pointing at 10 minutes before midnight. Not too bad ... but five minutes closer than it was when it showed up in DC Universe: Rebirth #1. And the clock in the promo art for the Doomsday Clock event only shows a couple minutes left. Things are definitely going to get worse.
This Also Has A Lot To DO With the DCU's Past
There are a lot of hints about the past in "The Button," not the least of which is Dr. Manhattan's narration about his "perception of time."
But "The Button" also revealed that all histories of the DCU (or at least many of them) still exist somehow, being held in place by someone (probably Dr. Manhattan). Because of his nature, is it important to realize that Dr. Manhattan would be aware of all possibilities in the DCU, and therefore all timelines? Although the people within the DCU would expect the alternate histories to be overwritten by the current-day DCU, that's not the way they work within the world of Dr. Manhattan.
With Oz appearing to be part of this, that character keeps using the term "long game" to describe what's happening. When he says long, we suspect he means really, really long.
Plus, if we can lend any credence to Mr. Oz's clue about "teaching" Superman to have hope, then this traces itself back much further than the last few years.
That said, it's obvious that "someone" (again, seemingly Dr. Manhattan) has the power to eliminate those past timelines if he so wishes - evidenced by his ability to erase the Flashpoint world. So it looks like all the past timelines are technically available to him, but also under his control.
Sure, the hints this week from Doomsday Clock writer Geoff Johns have only talked about that character, but there have been a lot of clues in "The Button" about there being more than one person involved in the manipulation of the DC timeline.
In the first few pages of "The Button," Saturn Girl used the pronoun "they" when warning about the decimation of the Legion. And later, in the last chapter of "the Button," Eobard Thawne claimed to know who is behind the Button's appearance, and he specifically used the pronoun "they" on The Flash #22's very first page.
Then Jay Garrick said to Barry, "they took everything from me."
While "they" can be used as a gender-neutral pronoun for a singular individual, it is more commonly used to refer to multiple individuals.
So whether the speculation about Mr. Oz being Ozymandias are true or not, it doesn't look like Dr. Manhattan is the only character who's involved in this attack (unless, of course, all these characters are merely mistaken).
It's All Remarkably Coordinated
This isn't just a matter of Dr. Manhattan randomly messing with the DCU. "The Button" made it pretty clear that whatever is happening to the DCU is a coordinated effort.
We got a hint of that when Manhattan (or someone who sure acted like him) vaporized several characters at the end of the "New 52" and within the pages of DC Universe: Rebirth #1. He seemingly chose those characters because of their knowledge of the universe and the "New 52."
Now, even Batman is aware that it "wasn't an accident" that he and Barry were sent to the Flashpoint timeline. The reason that Batman talked to his alt-universe father appears to be that someone wants to take Batman out of the equation, or at least shake him up. And it looks like it worked.
We already knew Mr. Oz was strategically pulling people from the DCU, but it's looking more and more like Dr. Manhattan is being rather strategic as well.
To what end? That's one question "The Button" didn't answer, although the "Doomsday" in Doomsday Clock does infer some sort of grim finality, at least in some respect.