Editor’s Note: This time around we are reviewing Batman: Hush as it is releasing tomorrow in comic stores as a new edition of the Unwrapped group which features the uncolored pages. While not a review of the collected edition itself, this is a review of the story as a whole rather than individual issues as the site reviews. You can pre-order your copy of the latest edition by heading over to Amazon.
Overview: Batman: Hush took place in Batman #608-619 from 2002-2003. You can also check out the TBU Bat-Books for Beginners episode that reviewed the story as well.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): We join Batman in the middle of a kidnapped child case involving Killer Croc. In the middle of rescuing the child in question, Killer Croc returns. In the ensuing battle between Batman and Croc, Catwoman steals the ransom money using Batman as a distraction. Defeating Croc, Batman pursues Catwoman when his grappling line is cut causing him to fall and be forced to be saved from an alley gang by Huntress.
Under a cover story, Alfred is able to summon Bruce’s childhood friend Tommy Elliot to save his life by removing skull fragments from Batman’s fall. After a quick recovery Batman tracks Killer Croc to Poison Ivy who has been controlling both Croc and Catwoman.
Capturing Croc, Batman teams up with Catwoman tracking Ivy to Metropolis who has taken control of Superman. Freeing Superman from Ivy’s control using both the Kryptonite ring and little help from Superman’s willpower, Batman captures Ivy.
Later on a date with Selina Kyle to the opera with Tommy Elliot, Harley Quinn stages a dramatic robbery causing Batman to appear along with Catwoman. During the fight, Tommy’s necklace given to him from his mother is stolen by Harley. Tommy chases after her only to be shot dead by what appears to be the Joker.
After Tommy Elliot’s funeral, Batman and Nightwing have a heart to heart about Batman almost killing the Joker and how not doing it proves he isn’t as bad as the Joker. During this conversation, Batman reveals to Nightwing the conspiracy that has been happening over the last few months. Some of Batman’s rogues haven’t been going by there regular modus operandi. Someone has been teaching them how to be better criminals.
Alerted to the Riddler stealing an armored truck with a bad riddle as a clue, Batman and Nightwing take him down making the observation that the Riddler isn’t part of the conspiracy. Seemly at the same time Joker is released by a cured Harvey Dent with a healed face while Batman reveals to Catwoman that he is Bruce Wayne.
In an effort to narrow down the culprit, Batman and Catowman kidnap Talia al Ghul to lure her father Ra’s al Ghul to them so they can interrogate him. After learning that one of the Lazarus pits was used and that someone from Batman past is the culprit, Batman returns to Gotham to find the Huntress under the control of Scarecrow attacking Catwoman. After defeating Scarecrow Batman finds the current Robin, Tim Drake, being held captive by the former Robin, Jason Todd.
While fighting Jason it is revealed to Batman that it is really Clayface mimicking Jason. After defeating Clayface Batman finds a device on the batcomputer having been put there by his mechanic Harold. While confessing to Batman, Harold is shot by the Tommy Elliot who appears to be the mastermind behind everything. Tommy reveals that he has secretly hated Bruce Wayne since Bruce’s father saved Tommy’s mother who Tommy had tried to kill. The two old friends fight until it ends with Tommy being shot dead by the reformed and reborn Harvey Dent.
In an epilogue, it is revealed that the Riddler is the real mastermind behind the grand conspiracy after deducing Batman’s real identity while in a Lazarus pit to cure a terminal disease. Being the egotistical villain that he is Riddler tells Bruce everything from approaching Elliot with a cure for his mother and then teaming up against Batman to the name of their plot against him to witch they called it the “Hush plot”. Batman tells Riddler that if he reveals that he used a Lazarus pit, Ra’s al Ghul will hunt him down with his assassins and kill the Riddler.
The last scene of this story is Catwoman trying to console Batman she accidentally tells him to “hush” which in turn makes him suspect their relationship was part of the plot. She leaves telling him she hopes he will see “it works because of who they are” and she hopes he can realize it someday.
Analysis: If you haven’t read Batman: Hush I strongly encourage you to do so as soon as you finish reading this. This story is one of the essential Batman story’s mixing elements of mystery, deception, romance, and some foretelling. I have yet to talk to anyone that does not like this story. Jeph Loeb writes comic books like Stephen King writes horror novels; extremely well. He understands what fans want and need in there superhero stories. Loeb doesn’t treat his readers like they need to be led around by the hand. Instead, he lets the story unfold naturally like chapters instead of one blocky part of the story a month. He also sets up multiple future storylines with what appears to be throwaway pages like the story with Harvey Dent. What you are actually getting is Dent proving he is a reformed man back to help law and order the right way not with a flip of the coin. I will admit to being confused by into thinking Tommy Elliot was impersonating Harvey Dent thinking that Elliot was using plastic surgery, but that is the only part I could see being a problem with the story.
Now to flip on over to the other side of this coin, Jim Lee’s art with this story is amazing you can almost never find anything wrong with the way Lee draws his characters. Batman looks and moves like he’s a black ops commando with a cape and a belt of useful items never a wasted moment never a move unconsidered. Seeing Batman’s scars was a nice touch as well showing he does get hurt. Showing Batman’s suit doesn’t always protect him is always good to show he isn’t perfect and has made mistakes. Lee’s design of Hush was interesting with the wrapped face. Could it have been a way to hint at Elliot’s identity as a doctor? Or was it to a joke to keep the “hush, hush” secret under wraps? Either way its very interesting idea and way to introduce a new enemy to Batman. Now my only problem with Jim Lee’s artwork is the Joker’s mouth it always seems to be hanging open like its unhinged from the jaw at least in the cover art.
Final Thoughts: Batman: Hush is one story that deserves a perfect score!