Fresh off his trip to Metropolis in Volume 1, Batman has returned to Gotham determined to find answers. Someone is manipulating his old foes, and possibly his friends, like pieces on a chess board and Batman is determined to find out who. While Bruce, Selina, and renowned surgeon – and childhood friend – Tommy Elliot are attending an opera, Harley Quinn and her cohorts attack forcing Batman in to action. In the resulting chaos, Tommy is killed and Batman comes within a hair of choking the life from Joker once and for all. Jim Gordon steps in to save the clown prince’s life, beseeching Batman not to throw his life away on a murder charge that Jim would be obligated to take him down for. All the while Joker is saying one thing over and over: “I’m innocent.”, as a bandaged man looks on from the rooftops above. Soon after The Riddler robs an armored truck and upon inspection of the crime scene, Batman finds a clue pointing to a powerful enemy. Desperate for answers he sets off in pursuit. And that, Batfans, is really just the start of this thrilling adventure and mystery.
Where Volume 1 was a lot of set up, this concluding arc is a dizzying ride as Batman succumbs to his feelings for Selina while trying to solve the mystery before him. The identity of the bandaged man is superbly set up and revealed only to cause even more questions. By the epic finale I was guessing and second-guessing what was really going on. I’m happy to say while I had part of it I didn’t know how all of the pieces fit together until it was all over. The villain isn’t even named until the last few pages, but it’s fun to re-read and see how many times characters said the word “hush” in dialogue as the story progressed. Were these clues or just in-jokes? Loeb never makes it clear, giving this story an even more unsettling vibe. Loeb leaves a few loose ends dangling so that you are never really sure who to believe or trust.
The book itself is a wonder and worth owning. Jim Lee’s illustrations are gorgeous, filled with eye popping color and detail. Batman: Hush is a true Gotham City story with a lot of Batman’s allies along for the fight including Nightwing, Robin, Oracle, and Superman.
There are a lot of Batman books out there, especially since the New 52 rebooted the series with the Death of Bruce Wayne. I still greatly prefer the Jeph Loeb era to the more darker and convoluted stories coming out now. There was a subtlety and simplicity to them that meant you could enjoy and understand the story without knowing what was happening in 10 different titles going at the same time.
Because Batman: Hush was a monthly title for its limited run there is a lot of explaining and summing up that goes a long way to helping readers that may not know who Huntress is or Nightwing. For that reason I can wholeheartedly recommend Batman: Hush to any Batman fans that haven’t yet read it. This one has been on my list for a while and I’m pleased to say it exceeded my expectations even with the lofty praise it has received since initial publication in the early 2000’s.
With Warner Brothers success in the animated field, Batman: Hush would be a fantastic addition if they were to film it. It has the gravitas of Under the Red Hood but also delivers absolutely epic fight scenes and action sequences, all coupled to a terrific story. Do not miss it.