Hush is a Batman story that holds a special place in my heart. It is both the first major Batman and DC Comic that I read. Up until I picked up a copy of the first volume of the two part trade I had only dabbled in DC Comics. The odd random issue when I came across it and highly regarded Elseworlds tales where the only things from DC that I had read up to the point of buying and reading Hush. I was a Spider-Man and Marvel guy and my journey with DC was a slow one to begin with. When I look back on this time now I laugh because after reading Hush things quickly snowballed for me and I became a DC fanboy. I still love Marvel a lot (especially Spidey! I LOVE that guy!) and it is my first love but DC just fits with my tastes better on the whole I find. Something which on closer inspection has always been the case when you take into account the DC animation and film adaptations that filled my tv viewing when I was a kid.
Hush is an amazing Batman story that serves as both a gripping yarn and a brilliant introduction into the comic book adventures of the Caped Crusader. It is one of those comics I recommend to anyone who is looking at getting into comic books and it is a story that I keep going back to an re-reading every couple of years. Always finding something new from a throwaway piece of dialogue from Loeb that speaks volumes about a character to Jim Lee’s pitch perfect art that just makes the book a joy to read. It all works to make a damn fine comic.
Another thing worth noting about Hush is that it is the first comic were I made a mental note of who the writer and artist were so I could check out their other work. It began that snowball of getting really into comics and the people who make them. From this twelve issue story I was lead to other DC comics and storylines such as Superman: For Tomorrow, Batman: The Long Halloween, Superman/Batman and many more. It made my comic book reading life richer and more detailed not just on the DC side of things but on the Marvel side and beyond too.
Hush is a near perfect introduction to all things Batman and Jeoph Loeb and Jim Lee manage the impossible and make the rich and complex history of Batman make sense without getting you to bogged down in the details. It is a greatest hits collection of Batman tropes and kick-ass moment with the explicit purpose of telling as good of a Batman mystery story as possible. Filled with characters, references, action, thrills and spills. The story focuses on the unravelling mystery of a shadowy figure who is controlling and moving some of Batman’s greatest enemies against him. Wearing him down, digging into his personal life and history with little regard for the fallout of doing such things.
Early on Batman is gravely wounded and this causes Alfred to call in one of Bruce Wayne’s childhood friends turned master surgeon, Tommy Elliot to patch him up. Through this introduction of Elliot we get to explore a couple of moments from his and Bruce’s shared childhood and slowly through the course of the story learn what kind of man Elliot actually is. To begin with you think Elliot and his Hush persona is just a throwaway villain for this story but from this seemingly one note beginning we get one of Batman’s best villains. He stands out because he knows Bruce’s secret and because they share a history his attacks are usually of a personal nature like the ones seen here. Even though the events and shocks of this particular story that Hush enacts are thought up and controlled by another villain who’s identity I will not reveal here.
As I said there is a who’s who of Batman in this story, we get: (off the top of my head)
- Killer Croc
- Poison Ivy
- Harley Quinn
- The Joker
- Harvey Dent
- Talia al Ghul
- Ra’s al Ghul
- Lady Shiva
- Current Robins
- Past Robins
- Dead Robins
You would think that with all these characters running around that it would be a mess of a book but the inclusion of each villain and hero serves a purpose to add to the greater whole. The villains for the most part are playing along with Hush and his master’s grand scheme to mess with the Caped Crusader so their short one or two issue appearances make sense. The appear play their part to confuse Batman and provide further clues then leave so the main thread of the story can continue. We also get some interesting character development for Batman as he not only starts a relationship with Catwoman but tells her that he is Bruce Wayne. Which is a pretty damn big deal when you think about it.
The other Best Of aspect that is brought into the story are moments that blew me away when I first read it but once I started exploring DC Universe and its history turned out to be very good references to classic Batman stories.
From having a punch up with Superman,
to getting to see all those awesome Batmobiles and the Batcave, each with a history and stories to tell,
To having a sword fight with a topless Ra’s al Ghul in the desert because that is how he rolls!
All of it adds to the story being told while looking to the past in a larger than life and exciting way via Lee’s art. Art that I instantly fell in love with the first time I read this so many years ago. I do not know what it is about Lee’s style that grabs me. Maybe it is the over the top-ness of it all that somehow manages to remain grounded in reality. Or the level of detail he puts into every drawing. It just grabs me whenever I see it.
Hush is a character defining story that set the tone for the Batman franchise as a whole for the next few years. A few things that happen in this story were taken by others and expanded into to other classic and….not so classic Batman stories. It is required reading for any Batman fan both old and new so if you have not read it yet get off your arse and read it now!