In a response to my reading list for last month, my good friend Allyn Gibson asked my opinion of Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s work on Batman: Hush. At the time I read it, I seriously thought of writing an extended review, yet I never got around to doing it. However, I decided to use his query as a springboard to a longer post.
I’ve never been a reader of Batman comics, aside from the occasional issue, but I bought into the hype when Hush was announced (in fact, I believe I have some issues that are worth a fair amount of money). I thought then and still think now that Jim Lee is an incredible artist and his posters of Batman and Superman will one day soon be displayed prominently in my office. Yet I agree with Allyn to some extent when he notes that he didn’t feel the art and writing in the series ‘clicked.’
Hush begins with Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend Tommy Elliot coming back into his life. Meanwhile, his rogue’s gallery is acting all out of character and a new eponymous villain may be pulling the strings. As the story progresses, we see Batman smack around Superman with the famous Kryptonite ring, fight every nemesis from the Joker to Clayface, and witness the possible return of Batman’s greatest tragedy (save his parents), the long dead second Robin, Jason Todd. Loeb’s storyline moves along with boring regularity. Batman fights and dispatches one of the villains only to move onto the next one.
Allyn is right; Loeb squeezed too many characters into the story for it to really work. As awesome as it is to see Lee draw the Superman/Batman fight or the sexy figures of Catwoman and Poison Ivy, their inclusion makes the story strain credulity. Characters and situations seem to be included for the sake of inclusion only, not because it leads to a more satisfying story. At the conclusion we find out the identity of Hush, and guess what? It’s the most obvious person.
What is supposed to be an epic Batman story fails to make any significant changes to the character. It a decent enough story enhanced greatly by Lee’s art. If you want to admire great artwork, this is the collection for you; if you want a satisfying Batman story, look elsewhere.