By: Kryptonian Detective
As a kid growing up, Batman: The Animated Series was a viewing staple of mine. Various incarnations and spinoffs of the show eventually brought us into Batman’s animated future, in the form of Batman Beyond. Much like its predecessor, I loved every minute of it. It’s safe to say that when it comes to DCU animation anything produced by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini turns to gold. So the thought of a comic book set in the main DC Universe became an instant must read for me. In this six issue mini series, ” When someone targets The Dark Knight’s old foes, the new Batman must begin a case that reaches into Bruce Wayne’s past and puts Terry’s future directly in danger.”
That someone who targets Bruce Wayne’s old foes is an old foe himself, well sort of. The villain in question is none other than Hush. This marks the fourth time since his debut that the character has been the main antagonist in a Batman story. While the other returns felt somewhat lame, this time it had initial intrigue. Most of that stemmed from the fact that it was almost impossible that Hush could be Tommy Elliot. I mean really, it’s impossible that everyone in Batman’s past could live as long as Bruce right? Much like the original Hush, this new version also uses Batman’s other villains as part of his master plan. He kills minor level foes like Signalman and Armory, using methods from Two-Face and The Penguin’s playbook. This idea is a smart tool by the writer, as it adds another level to the “Who Done It” motif. While he employs similar methods to his predecessor, Hush 2.0 has a different reason for hating Gotham City’s protector. The first time around Hush holds a grudge against Bruce for his relationship to his parents. This time Hush is out for blood because he believes that the new Batman is a “pretender”, unworthy of the mantle of the bat. This is an interesting alteration to the original Hush and his motives. This revelation narrows down the suspect list of who Hush is, while still leaving some mystery in play.
One of the more enjoyable aspects of the book was the Bruce/Terry character interplay. That’s something that the writers transported expertly from the animated television series. There’s Terry who is this care free spirit, fun-loving guy who likes to crack a few jokes. Then there’s Bruce, a tough as nails, deadly serious, and as regimented as a soldier. These two butt heads constantly throughout the story, each one believing their approach to being Batman is the better way. Tension and mistrust hits an all time high when Terry discovers that Bruce created Batman Robots to act as Batman’s back-up. Terry announces his intentions to quit at the conclusion of the “Hush” case. Add to this, Bruce’s fractured relationship with Dick Grayson, (which is mentioned and explained through flashbacks) and you get the sense that the decades have further hardened Bruce Wayne, and it really is “all about the mission” for him. However, there is a moment of redemption for long time readers who know there’s more to Bruce Wayne. By books end you firmly understand that Bruce loves all those people who fought by his side all those years. It’s more than the mission, their his family. Whether intentional or not,I thought the nods to past Batman stories were a nice touch. The Bat-Wraith’s are clearly a reference to “Kingdom Come”, while the appearance of Mad Hatter, and Calender Man, were a nod to “The Long Halloween” written by Jeph Loeb, who created the character of Hush.
On the whole, I liked this book. It is by no means perfect. The use of Hush every time DC Comics wants to generate buzz for a Batman comic book is starting to get redundant. It’s getting to a point where the character has to make an appearance once every two years. Then there’s the ultimate reveal of who Hush is. (Spoiler Warning) Hush is none other than a clone of Dick Grayson. It may have been a clone, but we’ve seen a former Robin be the ultimate baddie before. Tim Drake turned out to be The Joker in “Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker”, the direct to DVD animated film. Heck, that story was even mentioned in this book. I also thought the inclusion of a new Catwoman was unnecessary. The banter and sexual tension felt forced, especially since Terry kept telling Catwoman that their supposed to have a “thing.” I’m all for recycling, but seeing a constant barrage of classic Batman foes when trying to establish a new generation Batman is not what I have in mind. I also have minor gripes with portions of the art. While the fight scenes and action fell in line with modern Batman renditions, the art featuring characters out of costume looked like a cross between “Ben 10″ and Beyblades”. The artist wasn’t sure if he was drawing a comic book or a Saturday morning cartoon.
I think “Batman Beyond: Hush Beyond” sets of the ongoing series off to a strong start. I like the fact that the book is in continuity with the mainstream DC Universe. The question remains, is it the primary DCU Earth? Or, is it one of the multiple Earth’s hinted at in “52”? Maybe that will be explored at some point. This book has everything you expect a good Batman story to have. That’s something that the core titles have been lacking since “Batman: R. I. P.” So for that reason alone I recommend this graphic novel to any Batman fan. If the ongoing series can strike a balance between past continuity and standing on its own two feet then it will maintain this mini series’ title as the best Batman comic book title currently being published by DC Comics.
Overall Grade: 7/10