After rescuing a kidnapped child from the monstrous Killer Croc, Batman goes in pursuit of Catwoman after she nabbed the pay off money. High above the rooftops, someone cuts Batman’s grappling rope. He breaks his fall – and shoulder – clutching on to a gargoyle before plummeting to the ground in a dank alley. Barely conscious and powerless to help himself, his suit is able to repel a menacing group of thugs long enough for Huntress to arrive and get Bruce to safety. All the while a bandaged figure watches from the shadows. After healing Bruce goes in search of answers to find out who was behind the kidnapping and tried to kill him. His search leads him to Metropolis where Batman is forced to fight an ally under the spell of Poison Ivy.
Volume 1 is a thrilling story that works on its own as well as part of a larger arc. There are some big changes here that Jeph Loeb uses to really explore Batman/Bruce Wayne as an icon and as a man. Biggest being a burgeoning romance with Catwoman/Selina Kyle. Bruce doesn’t know if he can trust her and that is filling him with some big doubts. But when he needs help he calls on Selina and she is there for him. He knows that means something but still he is wary.
Jim Lee’s art is gorgeous, filled with huge panels of sweeping action and mythic poses. Batman: Hush is a very well regarded storyline in the Batman universe and rightfully so. Fresh off the also very good Batman: The Long Halloween, the story Loeb has crafted starts off subtle here but soon takes on significant urgency as a larger conspiracy starts to unfold. The vulnerable side of Batman/Bruce Wayne isn’t something we’ve seen much of in the comic before. Batman is nearly killed in the first few pages of Batman: Hush and requires major surgery to save his life. Luckily, Batman knows just such a surgeon, childhood friend Tommy Elliot.
Very quickly in the story we see a physically vulnerable Batman, emotionally vulnerable in his interaction with Selina, and mentally vulnerable as he reaches out to a childhood friend at his moment of need. This is not your standard Batman storyline and in lesser hands could easily be overpowering. Here Loeb keeps the plot moving quickly so its only later you realize how he was priming the reader to regard Batman differently than in previous stories. That’s some smart writing and only one example of many great ideas Loeb uses to fuel this story.
Volume 1 is the scene setting for the larger story and once you finish this one you’ll immediately want to continue on with Volume 2.