Reviews of trade paperbacks of comic books (mostly Marvel), along with a few other semi-relevant comments / reviews.

30 January 2009

Batman: Hush, v. 1

Collects: Batman #608-12 (2002-3)

Released: July 2004 (DC)

Format: 128 pages / color / $12.99 / ISBN: 9781401200602

What is this?: The villains in Gotham City seem strangely organized as Batman investigates a kidnapping that leads to a plot against him.

The culprits: Writer Jeph Loeb and penciler Jim Lee

Before various Crises and Grant Morrison hit Batman, the biggest story in Gotham was Batman: Hush.

Writer Jeph Loeb, penciler Jim Lee, and inker Scott Williams collaborated on a twelve-issue run on Batman, introducing a new, bandaged-swathed villain called Hush. In Batman: Hush, v. 1, however, Hush figures very little in the story. Instead, this volume mostly sets up the villain’s plan while giving Batman some evildoers to fight.

(An aside: When deciding whether to review the entire Hush storyline in one post or write a review on each of the softcover volumes, I opted for two separate reviews. This allows for me to review the first volume, and if someone opts to read Hush on that basis, they won’t be spoiled as much, no matter how much detail I go into.)

Batman: Hush, v. 1 coverHush, v. 1, feels like a detective story. There is little of the actual character Hush here; there are suggestions that someone is pulling the strings of a few Gotham villains, like Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Killer Croc, and perhaps even LexCorp. There isn’t a payoff in v. 1 on the culprit — this is v. 1, after all, of two — so Hush, v. 1, is setup.

On that score, it works, although you have to wonder how you top a Batman / Superman fight. (It’s a credit to Batman’s reputation that Loeb doesn’t have to explain why Batman has a plan to fight Superman, in Metropolis, on the spur of the moment.) Two storylines may be hard to swallow, however: Batman beginning a romance with Catwoman and the introduction of Bruce Wayne’s boyhood best friend, Dr. Thomas Elliot. The former isn’t so hard to understand; she’s Catwoman, he’s lonely, and there’s no Bat accessory that’s going to help with that. The introduction of a childhood friend who meant so much to Bruce is more difficult to swallow, however; in reading v. 1, you have to wonder why Loeb goes to so much trouble to introduce a surgeon with boyhood ties to Bruce.

Lee is … well, he does Jim Lee work. His name sells comic books — or so we’re told — and he’s been a sought-after talent for almost two decades now. Hush, v. 1, is just another line on his resume. His work is impressive, if a looking a bit staged at certain “cool” moments. Still, it’s easy to see why his work is so highly thought of — each character has what looks like an iconic look, but Lee’s designs feel fresh. The fight scenes are well staged, as well. There are the standard, long-legged cheesecake-ish shots — as I said about Joe Benitez’s work on Batman: Detective, there’s nothing remarkable about that in most superhero comics. Well, nothing remarkable except that Lois Lane wears a skirt a bit short for a career woman wanting to be taken seriously as a journalist, and Lee likes the butt shots of Huntress.

Hush, v. 1, is mostly fun, even if it seems Batman absorbs an absurd amount of damage. I have reservations about parts of it, but it looks great and feels like it’s building toward something big, which is exactly what Loeb and Lee are aiming for.

Rating: Batman symbol Batman symbol Batman symbol Batman symbol (4 of 5)

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