Batman: Hush, Vols. 1-2
by Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee (DC Comics, 2003)

The problem with most superheroes is that their villains, no matter how cleverly evil they are, grow tiresome. I mean, they keep coming back, no matter how often they're sent to prison. But many efforts to introduce new villains fall flat.

You see the quandary.

Batman: Hush faced the challenge head-on, introducing a new villain to the Batman stable with masterful plotting. (It also introduced a solid and believable Batman/Catwoman and Bruce Wayne/Selina Kyle romance to the storyline that, unfortunately, later writers fumbled.)

Hush involves plenty of Batman's old-school foes, including the Joker, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc and the Riddler. It also brings allies like Robin, Nightwing, Oracle, the Huntress and retired police commissioner Jim Gordon into play. But the real mystery is Hush, a man whose face is hidden behind bandages and who orchestrates the plot like a maestro.

Is it someone new? An old foe with a new gimmick? Batman certainly doesn't know, it's a treat for readers to watch him try to figure it out. Readers also should be suspicious of each new revelation, as there are plenty of red herrings before the true answer comes to light.

Jeph Loeb has proven himself time and time again as a master plotter, particularly where Batman is concerned. He exceeds himself here, giving the complicated Batman character more depth and detail than most writers even dream of achieving. And, as stated, Batman's relationship with Catwoman has a delightful evolution that feels, well, perfect.

Teamed this time with artist Jim Lee, the book has a polished look and feel that is a true pleasure read from cover to cover. This is a Dark Knight dream team that is, in my view, even better than Loeb's highly acclaimed work with artist Tim Sale.

This is a collection that reveals new layers each time it's read. It is one of the high points of Batman's long and storied career. And it's a benchmark for future writers and artists to strive for. Well done!

review by
Tom Knapp

16 August 2008

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