When Hush originally came out I had been away from Batman comics for a couple years, and the only DC comics I was reading were all Vertigo. I remember the buzz around it, though, and thought I would read it someday. That day is now, because the Heroes discussion group is going to talk about it next weekend. I read the first six issues today--they read much faster than most comics I read--so these are some observations, from someone reading it for the first time.

  1. I like the amount of panel time Bruce Wayne gets. In this story he's not just an excuse for Batman to exist. He interacts with many people who don't know his secret identity (and some who do) and actually seems to have a life. I like that balance, and found it lacking in the recent Batman stories I've read.
  2. The Catwoman connection is remarkable. It had been hinted at in the past, but it's a huge part of the dynamic here. It humanizes Bruce/Batman: he's like any other man in love. Confusing for most of us, but especially for him! Interesting to read this as Gotham is on TV, with a young Selina Kyle a prominent character.
  3. The current state of the DCU is at least mentioned, although fortunately it's not required to understand the story. Lex Luthor was President at the time, a fact I was aware of from following the comics news, but had no direct reading knowledge of.
  4. The gallery of Batman villains are introduced pretty organically. It doesn't feel like "villain of the month" even though it pretty much is. Which brings me to...
  5. The monthly story segments are well plotted. The issues are clearly not at all self-contained, but they present a substantial chunk of the story. Some parts of the big story get resolved, others are left hanging for the next issue.
  6. Jim Lee's art is gorgeous (aided by the rest of the art team). He does one old-school thing that I don't find completely effective, the animation of motion (not sure this is the right terminology: it's when a character moves through a scene in multiple images showing their position at the beginning and the end, with all the intervening steps).

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Lots of nice twists at the end. Really had me going with the Jason Todd impersonation. I certainly had not guessed at the identity of the ultimate mastermind, but it's appropriate that it is a traditional Batman villain. I agree with discussion I remember from the time that Tommy is a handy retcon invention: a childhood friend we've somehow never heard of before.

I was disappointed in the split with Catwoman at the end. I don't see that it would have complicated the Batverse any more than the huge extended family already was, and it would have been a humanizing influence on Bruce.

I don't have the books anymore but remember Hush was a pretty good story.

The extended Bat family at the time was very enjoyable to me. Having people (costumed and otherwise) helping him on his mission made a lot of sense.

The later depictions of a Batman spying on and wanting to control everybody recall his portrayal in Kingdom Come. As good as Kingdom Come and The Dark Knight Returns were, they were essentially unlabelled Elseworlds stories. They weren't intended to become mainstream versions of the character.

While I loved the art, I just never cared for this storyline. It also made me realize outside of a few stories I'm just not a fan of Jeph Loeb's work.

I'm glad you like it, Mark. For me, "Hush" was the last straw that made me drop all of the Batman titles for good, and I haven't been back since.

I had been dissatisfied for a long time because I never bought into the now-prevailing view that "Bruce Wayne is a daytime mask for The Batman." I was quite fed up with "Bat-Psycho." I railed long and loud over here about "the Justice Protocols" which in my view are Batman's secret plans to murder his teammates, a bad storyline that maligned Batman's character something awful but, bafflingly, had people thinking was a completely sensible thing for him to do. And I quit the Robin title, which I had followed from issue one, when it had Batman perpetrate a hoax on Tim Drake in the name of toughening him up that only showed Batman was sadistic as well as psychopathic.

"Hush"? It gave us another iteration of Batman beating Superman, which is impossible. It worked in The Dark Knight Returns because a) it was a total surprise because it's really impossible, b) Batman had all of his ducks perfectly lined up to allow it to happen, especially because c) Superman was dumbed down to make Batman look good and d) Superman let him win.*

But what did it for me was the second or third issue in the story, the one with Batman up against Superman, in which Batman is thinking to himself that, deep down, Superman is the weaker of the two because he's fundamentally good and he himself is not.

I just found that so offensive that I could not continue.

*Tell me Batman can beat Superman in a knock-down drag-out fight if he's wearing body armor that runs on the power from an entire city, and I'll ask why Superman didn't have the presence of mind to simply unplug Batman from the friggin' lamppost, or short it out with his heat vision. Even the Golden Age Superman wouldn't have lost that fight, because he would have peeled that stupid suit off Batman and left him standing there in his undershorts.

Richard Willis said:


The later depictions of a Batman spying on and wanting to control everybody recall his portrayal in Kingdom Come. As good as Kingdom Come and The Dark Knight Returns were, they were essentially unlabelled Elseworlds stories. They weren't intended to become mainstream versions of the character.

The thing is, the depictions of Batman in Kingdom Come and The Dark Knight Returns are of a man 30 or more years in the future, whose attitudes are shaped by lots of awful things that happened in those years. That was not supposed to be the outlook of Batman in contemporary times, but too many writers started presenting him that way. 

I did like it, but maybe I was overemphasizing the positives before. Because while there were things I liked a lot--especially the emphasis on the human side of Batman, the Bruce Wayne persona--I can totally see the problems you had with it, Clark. I had the advantage of coming into it years after the fact, and years after I stopped reading Batman comics regularly. So I could appreciate the "cracking good yarn" aspects of it, and I had no buildup to the way Batman is presented here. From the sound of it, he had been tarnished as a character far more in other stories around the same time.

Since I followed this with the first New 52 arc (The Court of Owls) they made an interesting contrast to each other. But I gather you haven't returned for any of the New 52 Batman.

An emphasis on the human side of Batman, the Bruce Wayne persona, is something I think has been lacking for far too long in the Batman books, and its absence was part of what drove me away. Really, you could go months without ever seeing Bruce Wayne's face in a Batman book, and you could go months and even years without ever seeing Bruce Wayne do something unrelated to Batman.

One thing I liked about the introduction of Lucius Fox to the Batman books, for example, was that he was all about the Wayne Enterprises business. He was the only regular character Bruce Wayne dealt with on a routine basis who had absolutely NOTHING to do with Batman. Thus, we got glimpses of Bruce Wayne doing Bruce Wayne stuff.

For another example, Bruce Wayne was friends with Commissioner Gordon from the very first Batman tale, but that was completely lost.

Had I persisted with "Hush" beyond the point where I dropped it, I might have seen that emphasis on the human side of Batman. But what I did see told me that the writers came up with the wrong answer.

And no, I haven't seen the New 52 Batman. Do I have a reason to? Do they explore Bruce Wayne's life as well as Batman's? Is he less of a jerk than pre-New 52 Batman?

I agree with CK. I really didn't like Hush for all the reasons he didn't like it, with the added oomph that I will NEVER like any story with Hush in it, because I simply don't believe that Bruce Wayne has had a childhood friend for the last 70 years that we haven't heard of. My suspension of disbelief collapses at the sight of Tommy Elliott.

ClarkKent_DC said

And no, I haven't seen the New 52 Batman. Do I have a reason to? Do they explore Bruce Wayne's life as well as Batman's? Is he less of a jerk than pre-New 52 Batman?

I think he is less of a jerk than he was before, but probably not in any appreciable measure for you. *I* don't think you would like him, Clark. There have been some good Bruce moments, but they small, and don't happen often.

One of my favorites though was in the cancelled Batman: Dark Knight, Bruce is on his cell phone with Alfred, I think, and he flirts with a girl at a cafe as he walks by.

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