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

03 February 2009

Batman: Hush, v. 2

Collects: Batman #613-9 (2003)

Released: October 2004 (DC)

Format: 192 pages / color / $12.99 / ISBN: 9781401200923

What is this?: As Batman seeks Hush’s true identity, Hush involves even more of Batman’s enemies in his plot to destroy Batman — and Bruce Wayne.

The culprits: Writer Jeph Loeb and penciler Jim Lee

Hush, v. 1, started the Hush storyline off with a bang. But getting the reader’s interest is only half the game — it’s easy to think it’s the easy half, if you’ve ever read Scott Lobdell’s work. The other half is finishing the deal.

In Batman: Hush, v. 2, writer Jeph Loeb, penciler Jim Lee, and inker Scott Williams attempt to do just that. They pull in the rest of Batman’s rogue’s gallery, with the exception of the Penguin. They throw moral dilemmas at Batman and big revelations at the reader. They test Batman’s weakest points: his loneliness and his isolation.

Batman: Hush, v. 2 cover In v. 2, Loeb completes a story that feels like part of a miniseries. That’s not a complaint, just a description; Hush, v. 2 has a scope that feels bigger than what is usually allowed in an ongoing title without a crossover. Loeb and Lee bring in plenty of villains and allies, raising the stakes and making the events feel like they matter. That’s tough to do, and it can be overdone if it’s desperate — see X-Men: Deadly Genesis for an example — but Loeb and Lee pull it off … mostly.

They successfully obscure the villain of the piece, although the red herring they use is deeply stupid.25 The changes in the relationship between Batman and Catwoman feel important at the time, especially when viewed through the prism of his relationship with Talia al Ghul, but less so at the end. Bruce’s childhood friend, Dr. Elliot, still feels pressed into an important role he’s not quite suited for. Hush, as a villain, falls short for me — an impressive build up that doesn’t quite live up to the hype.

It stumbles at the end. The ending hinges on so much that seems not quite there — the development of Elliot, Two Face, the old supporting character Harold, and Hush feel like they’ve been overlooked. There are just too many villains and heroes crammed into the final seven issues. Harold is briefly introduced, and just as quickly rushed off the stage. Hush, with his whisper-thin motivation, is a mastermind who rushes onto the stage at the end, expecting applause, only to find out the audience isn’t quite sure about him. Two Face has a pivotal role but is barely shown.

It all falls into place; it all makes sense. But with an important story like this, it has to more than make sense. It has to fit well, it has to make the audience feel not only the weight of its importance but its craftsmanship as well. And Hush, v. 2, falls just short of that.

Lee’s art is, as in Hush, v. 1, a selling point. There’s not much to say about it that I didn’t say in the previous review, except I see now where the art for this Heroclix figure comes from.

Hush, v. 2, is a slight disappointment when compared to v. 1. Still, it’s not a bad read — just not as good as it could have been.

Rating: Batman symbol Batman symbol Batman symbol

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