Comics

Batman: Hush

Writer: Jeph Loeb

Penciller: Jim Lee

Inker: Scott Williams

Distributed By: DC Comics

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Batman is about to undergo some drastic changes.  His life is being turned upside down.  Criminals he has spent his entire career tracking, fighting and sending to prison are suddenly taking on larger jobs.  Criminals he used to capture effortlessly have now grown stronger…more powerful.  Batman believes that there is one person behind it all; one person pulling the strings in every case.  But who?  Who could be close enough to Batman to predict his every reaction; know his every move?  Hush is the most talked about Batman comic book story arc of the decade.  Each volume of the 11-part story arc brings the caped crusader closer to his hidden nemesis, but can he handle discovering just who this mysterious enemy is?

            I remember the hype that went into this series – Batman’s completely thrown off guard as a friend from his past returns to haunt his every moment.  My brother rushed to the store for each issue, longing to know just who was behind the evil that was befalling the defender of Gotham.  I had heard of an epic battle between Batman and Superman, of an amazing confrontation between Batman and the Joker, had even caught wind of an appearance by a long dead hero.  But I had no idea what I was in for when I began to read the two-volume trade paperback edition of Batman: Hush.

            Many people skip the introductions found at the beginning of trade paperbacks.  Some find them boring – they don’t want to delay the action awaiting them in the colorful pages that follow the intro.  As for myself, I love reading the introduction pages.  I find they give me insight as to the purpose of creating the particular story arc contained in the trade paperback I am reading.  Also, you can often find some very interesting bits of inside information in these introductions, supplied by the very creators of the comic themselves.  In these intros, I discovered that the creators of Hush believed it to be a team effort – so much so that they gave acknowledgement to behind the scenes people that most comic readers never really hear about.  And so we find Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee thanking each other for the experience as well as Scott Williams (the inker), Richard Starkings (the letterer) and Alex Sinclair (the colorist).  In Loeb and Lee’s opinion, each of these individuals had a hand in making the Hush series that much more exciting.  And who could argue with that?!

            Let’s go over the many fine points of this series.  The artistry is terrific – very lifelike.  Batman is going through a rough period in his life and the way he is drawn and colored shows it.  The hero often forgoes the clean-shaven look while searching for the elusive truth in this series, a very realistic touch if I may say so.  We finally get to see some romance between Batman and Catwoman and we notice a change in Batman as a result.  As we have seen in the past, under that tough exterior is a truly caring person with some very severe trust issues.  The romance of Batman and Catwoman tackles this issue head-on with some surprising results.  We see the return of several classic villains – the Joker, Riddler, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy and Scarecrow.  We are also treated to appearances by several well-known heroes, such as The Huntress, Oracle, Superman, Nightwing, Jim Gordon and more.  Even better – through the use of flashbacks, we begin to learn more of Batman’s life before he donned the costume and became the Caped Crusader.

            The coloring of this series was very effective in reflecting the moment.  A grayish-blue tint is used to denote flashbacks.  The art in these scenes are a tad abstract to illustrate that they are memories.  Important happenings are illustrated with vibrant colors and attention to detail.  With the darkness that usually surrounds Batman’s character, the vibrancy of the colors helps the reader notice important clues in the case as it begins to unravel.

            The series moves quickly and even though there are a great deal of villains throughout, the amount of characters never takes away from the story.  Each one has a major part to play in this tale.  No one is lost or ignored.  The ending is most definitely a surprise.  When you realize that it was written by the creator of Batman: The Long Halloween, you realize that you should have expected this all along.  I can’t truly go into it without revealing several things that might spoil the read for you.  Suffice it to say that Loeb specializes in the friend-becomes-foe storyline.

            This was an incredibly fast read.  I was so mesmerized by the story that I actually had to force myself to put it down once or twice to run errands.  I just couldn’t wait to find out what happens next.  Batman: Hush is not just an action-packed adventure.  This is what I like about Batman comic books – you get to solve the crime along with one of the greatest detectives ever invented.  This is a thinking man’s story bound to thrill any longtime Batman fan!


 



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