SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for "The Flash: Rebirth" #1, on sale now.
DC Comics certainly turned heads when the "DC Universe: Rebirth" one-shot, released late last month, established the first-ever connection between the DC Universe and the world of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' seminal "Watchmen" -- via both the Comedian's blood-splattered badge appearing in the Batcave, and the reveal that the 1986 story's all-powerful Doctor Manhattan altered the DCU by stealing 10 years from it, providing a new in-story explanation for the changes brought by 2011's "New 52" line-wide reboot.
At the time, an interview on USA Today with DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer and and "DC Universe: Rebirth" writer Geoff Johns stated that how "Watchmen" is involved with the DC Universe "will unfold in the background over the course of a couple years." Well, that unfolding continued in the freshly released "The Flash: Rebirth" #1 by Joshua Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico.
In the issue, The Flash -- Barry Allen edition -- consults with Batman about the discovery of Comedian's badge (referred to in the story as "a smiley face button") in the walls of the Batcave. It's stated that Wally West's lightning embedded the button inside the cave, but neither of them yet draw any conclusions as to how it got there, or what it's significance is -- though they do agree to keep working on the case together. It's said that the blood on the badge has "traces of a radiation unlike anything we've seen," presumably a reference to Doctor Manhattan himself.
While Barry and Bruce look to figure out one mystery, several still lie ahead for them, as well as readers -- namely, what exactly the significance of the Comedian's badge would be to Doctor Manhattan, and why it'd be left as a clue. While it's the most recognizable symbol of the "Watchmen" franchise in the real world -- appearing on the cover of issue #1 and long associated with the story -- it doesn't have the same weight in the fictional world of "Watchmen," and none at all in the DC Universe. Of course, there's plenty more of the story left to tell.
The issue also features the first appearance of the original Wally West following the character's long-awaited return in the "Rebirth" one-shot -- and makes it clear that he will once again be The Flash; or at least "a" Flash, alongside Barry. His story is set to continue in the "Titans: Rebirth" one-shot, on sale next week.