By: Super Mark

I feel kinda guilty for reviewing this book. The truth is, I’m not really that big of a fan of Batman. If you knew me for more than five minutes, then you would have an idea where my interests really lie. I wear Superman dog-tags around my neck. I have a Superman-like nickname. I am contemplating getting a Superman tattoo on my person.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I still rank the caped crusader in my personal top 5 favorite super-heroes, and I consider him as one of the top three super-heroes of all time. I followed the Knightfall storyline even while I was busy with the Death and Return of Superman. I was a huge fan of Batman Begins, and I am greatly looking forward to watching the Dark Knight in theatres this summer.
And so, it’s with this background that I’ve been asked to review Batman: Hush, a book I decided to pick up at the strong recommendations from my local comic book shop clerk.

First off, I gotta give top chops to Jim Lee’s art. The man is a modern legend among comic book artists, and it was amazing to see him offer his legendary talents to DC. He is at the top of his game with this storyline. He maintains Batman’s dark and gritty style while still bringing his signature Jim Lee-esque quality to the fold.
I’ve gotten myself familiar with the works of Jeph Loeb over the years. And the best way to describe him is “Fanboy.” Now before you guys jump down my throat, I meant that as a compliment. Jeph Loeb writes his stories like he’s one of us and as such, most of his works cater to our tastes and interests.

The problem, however, is that he crams in as many characters as he can into one story. Hush’s all-star cast includes Killer Croc, Catwoman, Oracle, Huntress, Amanda Waller, Poison Ivy, Superman, Lois Lane, Perry White, Harley Quinn, the Joker, Jim Gordon, Two-Face, Nightwing, the Riddler, Ra’s al Ghul, Talia Head, Lady Shiva, Lex Luthor, Robin, Scarecrow, Clayface, Jason Todd, and Harold.
But while this may mean that Hush is feeding us mythos most of us are already aware of, it also tacks in its own original material. It was refreshing to see the addition of “Tommy” Elliott as Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend, giving us a better glimpse at what the Dark Knight was like before his parents were gunned down. It’s always nice to learn something new about these characters you grew up with.

Now I’m going to start off with the highlights with the fight between Batman and Superman. Now this was what the French call “la piece de resistance” not simply because it involves Superman. Rather, it was because it pitted the Caped Crusader against arguably the most powerful being on the planet and not only made it believable, but made it freakin’ sweet! Batman outwits Superman with pure psychology, by knowing how he thinks.

Originally, the rendering of Superman bothered me. At first I assumed that Jim Lee didn’t really know how to draw Superman properly, but his work on “For Tomorrow” completely destroyed that theory. After looking at it a second time, I notice that the colors weren’t quite right. Now, I figure he was just colored more brightly to contrast with Batman’s darkness.

Next comes the Catwoman romance. Far be it for me to argue against what makes the world go round, but I wasn’t convinced that the two of them were meant to be together. This felt awful for me, because I wanted them to be together. I like the concept of Catwoman, but the way she was written made me wish I was Batman just so I could punch her. The fact that they break up by the end of the story also made me wonder what was the point of it all if it was going nowhere to begin with.

Next comes the severe beating of the Joker. I hate to say this, but I did not care for the appearance of the Joker. His presence felt superfluous, with nothing to offer to the plot other than to throw Batman off the scent of the real mastermind, and with nothing to add to the table other than the “he exists because of me” routine. The Clown Prince of Crime just shows up at the wrong place at the wrong time, and the Dark Knight just proceeds to pound the living stupid out of him. One pep talk from Jim Gordon and Batman stops himself from crossing the line we knew he was never going to cross in the first place.

Now we come to the Return of Jason Todd, the Robin D.C. Comics killed off. What with every super-hero or super-villain who has ever died coming back to life every other week, there was an unwritten rule: Bucky, Jason Todd and Uncle Ben stay dead. Within the past five years, however, they’ve broken that rule for the dusty sidekicks. I was genuinely shocked and intrigued by the possibility of his return, but I was somewhat relieved that he turned out to be an impostor. At least I thought he was an impostor, until D.C. pulled out the “retcon” card and rewrote history so that it was –in fact– Jason Todd the whole time. Aaahh, the good old “Superboy-Prime punching the wall of reality” excuse. Is there nothing you can’t explain away?

Finally, we discover that the man who betrayed Batman was none other than Harold. Oh, Harold. You left this world far too young. Unfortunately, you wound up being one those underappreciated characters that wind up being brought back into an epic storyline just for the sake of being killed off. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Harold, he was a hunchbacked mute with a talent for repairing machinery. Batman gave him a home in the Batcave and benefitted greatly from his talents, until Harold just sort of faded into obscurity. His appearance lasts a single page, long enough for the avid fan to go “I always wondered what happened to that guy” … right before the main villain blows his brains out.

So there you have it. In the end, Hush is a dish that caters straight to the Bat-fans. You get a good bang for your buck, with almost all of your favourite characters thrown into the mix for good measure. You have a story that pretty much does its job, but you also have incredible art that goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Score: 7.5 out of 10