“Why I Love” Batman: HUSH

This piece is the continuation of my “Why I Love” series. If you’re new to this series, and clicked on this article because you saw Batman, I highly recommend you check out my other two “Why I Love” pieces on Green Lantern’s Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, and Matthew Murdock, the Man Without Fear. Just click the back button and they aren’t too far down. The main reason I’m doing this piece is to focus on nothing but positivity. At the time I wrote my first piece, Secret Empire was the talk of the town. Is Captain America a Nazi? Does Marvel cater to the Social Justice Warrior crowd? Is Marvel spinning out of control with their liberal agenda? While those questions could be talked about in a civil manner, they haven’t been. People are too angry when talking about comics. Not even angry, they just know that anger will garner attention. Nothing gets you more followers on Twitter than a catchy, possibly controversial headline. Clickbait, is what I think the kids call it. Anyways, now, the topic of discussion is the upcoming Black Panther trailer. More specifically, everyone has an opinion on the trailer. Some think the movie looks awesome and leave it at that. Others think Marvel is just pandering to black audiences. Some, have even taken it a step further by condemning the DCEU film Wonder Woman for its lack of black representation. It’s become familiar situation where minority groups (women and blacks) should be celebrating, but just like pop culture, politics, and social justice, we’re against each other. It’s sad to see, so I figure focusing on nothing but positive things in comics is needed. Today, I want to talk about one of my favorite Batman stories of all time. Hush.

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I’ve been on Twitter promoting my blog/website for over a year now. When I joined, I was pretty secure in my nerd beliefs, you know, who I like and what not, and I still am. But there are some things I didn’t realize until I joined the comic book community online. The first two that surprise me the most are 1. People hate the Amazing Spider-Man movies. This has always been a huge shock to me, I enjoyed those movies for what they were and loved Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. 2. People hate or don’t respect Batman. Batman was my first superhero growing up. Well, that’s not true, but he was the first hero I remember liking more than everyone else. The main reason for this was because how cool he was. I lived off Batman: The Animated Series and the two Justice League cartoons. Kevin Conroy was my Batman and I loved the character. I didn’t know people don’t like the character that much. The main reason being he’s overpowered, without having powers. Now, I will agree, there are some moments in Batman comics, where I can’t suspend my knowledge of reality. Sometimes, he does things that make zero sense, in terms of heroics. What is the reasoning a writer might give for this? You all know it. “I’m Batman.” That’s why he can survive nuclear blasts, come back from a broken back, solve any algorithm known to man, because he’s Batman. Personally, I thought that was cool growing up. I enjoyed watching Batman kick ass but I also enjoyed watching him learn. Batman doesn’t get enough credit for how he can recover from a loss. Some folks out there call this the “Prep Time” argument, but I just think that’s a limp attempt at being funny. Batman is one of the best minds in the DC Universe. His tactics vary too. Sometimes he organizes the best plan to attack an enemy. Sometimes, he knows how to make an opponent break psychologically. Why is that? No, it isn’t because he’s Batman, it’s because Bruce Wayne dedicated his life to learning the ins and outs of things such as strategy, forensics, and psychology. Yes, he’s a master martial artist, but there are a plethora of people in the DC Universe who can beat him hand-to-hand. But Batman can figure out anybody. And he himself, isn’t unbreakable. There have been times where villains get the best of Bruce. His obsession with criminality is unhealthy, but it makes him an interesting character to watch. Over the years, my love for the character has grown into respect, more than anything. I want more from the character now. I want DC to use Bruce Wayne more effectively. He has wealth and influence. He could seriously change the landscape of the DCU if he wasn’t being Batman. He could take over Task Force X from Amanda Waller and have them to humanitarian missions. Then, every once in a while, he could suit up. I would love that type of future for Bruce Wayne, but I don’t know if DC is even thinking that far ahead. Batman: Hush, is one of the most Batman-y stories ever written. If you like good a good plot, fantastic art, and watching Batman struggle, this story is for you. It’s crazy, fun, and sums up the character of Batman perfectly. Everything I just stated above about why I love Batman, is manifested in this story.

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Batman: Hush was written by Jeph Loeb and the art was done by Jim Lee. It was published in 2002 and remains one of the most popular Batman stories of all time. Before I dive into why I love this comic, I want to say Rest In Peace to Adam West. For many, he was THE Batman. His version of the character was the status quo for Bruce Wayne. While his show wasn’t one big joke, it never tried to be anything other than what it was. That’s why people loved it. Adam West set the standard for Bruce Wayne. Everyone took him seriously, but he wasn’t the “dark” character he is today. That all changed in 1985 with Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns.” There are certain stories in comics that help define a character for years to come. TDKR took the character of Batman in a different direction. The dark, violent, brooding character we all know and love was just starting to form then. While Hush doesn’t start a new direction for Bruce Wayne (and in some ways, you could argue it does) it captures perfectly the essence of the Dark Knight during this era.

A quick synopsis of this story. Hush is about a new villain tearing Batman apart using his old villains. From the beginning, Batman suffers a serious injury and is forced to get surgery. Thomas Elliot was his friend growing up but the two had lost touch. Tommy became one of the best surgeons in the country. Batman has Tommy come and do emergency surgery on him. The story is fast paced, and has action non-stop throughout, there’s even a cool scene with Clayface pretending to be Jason Todd. In the end though, Batman discovers that it was his friend Tommy Elliot who had become the villain, Hush. He hated Bruce Wayne because Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father, saved Tommy’s parents in a car crash that Tommy caused. He wanted to be an orphan with money like Bruce. All of this craziness makes this story amazing. The plot is paced perfectly and every action scene is amazing. One of the first reason’s I love this story is the insane amount of characters in it. Usually, in a Batman story, you will usually see one villain you know, sometimes two or three. There are so many villains and characters in this story it almost doesn’t make sense. It’s Batman v. Superman on steroids, but in a much better way. Jeph Loeb does a great job showing us all the characters in this story. A huge part of Hush’s plan was using people from Bruce’s life. Throughout the story, Bruce tells us about how Tommy was always telling him to think like his opponent. It came up numerous times in the story. The story starts off with Kliller Croc. Then it’s Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Huntress, Amanda Waller, Lois Lane, Superman, Harley Quinn, The Joker, Jim Gordon, Oracle, Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Riddler, Harvey Dent, Talia al Ghul, Ras al Ghul, Lex Luthor (who’s the President in this story. Could you imagine how funny it would be if Jesse Eisenberg’s mental Luthor became President in the DCEU?) Lady Shiva, and Clayface. The optics of that list tell you it’d be almost impossible to craft a successful story with near perfect pacing, but this story has that. Every character has a role, be it small or large in this story and Loeb does a great job using them in the perfect capacity. This isn’t my favorite aspect of this story, but it probably is for most people. The action in this comic is unreal and is honestly what it’s remembered for.

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Batman, whether you hate him more than your ex-girlfriend who cheated on you, is an iconic character. There is no arguing that. Iconic characters are also iconic in their worlds as well. The other characters in comics respect them, and maybe fear them. Heroes like Captain America, Spider-Man, and Superman are always idolized by their peers. Sometimes, the dialogue we see from these characters in stories where they aren’t the main character can be stale. Well, not stale but typical and predictable. If you’re writing Superman, you won’t get crap for writing him as a boy scout. Same with Captain America, no one is going to look at you twice for having the majority of his lines be about duty, respect, and patriotism. With Spider-Man, jokes are the main crutch. But, the best stories involving iconic characters dives deep into their minds and gives us dialogue, or mainly thoughts that we’re all dying to hear. That’s one of the best things about comics and one of the best things about Hush. Throughout the story, Batman is constantly thinking, or talking, to us, the readers. Along with the ensemble cast, Loeb has Batman remember almost every important moment in his career. Whether they are cheerful ones about Tommy, or dark and dreadful ones like Barbara getting shot, Batman gives great narration throughout. Seeing the way his brain works has always been cool. One of the best parts of the story is when Tommy fakes his death and Joker is framed for it. Batman declares this, to be the night that Joker dies. He remembers Barbara, Jim’s wife, and the countless others that Joker has murdered or hurt. Batman beats him senseless, knocking out teeth and almost killing the criminal. Joker proclaims he’s innocent and Jim Gordon is the one who shows up to convince Batman to let Joker live. It was an interesting moment because Jim told Batman he’d arrest Batman if he crossed that line. Loeb’s writing, and Lee’s art show us a Batman who desperately wants to kill Joker. This came a little more than halfway through the story, so Batman had almost had enough of Hush messing with him. This scene is elevated, like most are, by Bruce’s thoughts. He doesn’t say much, but his mind it always working. There are other moments in this story where his thoughts elevate scenes too. I stopped listening to people downplay Batman’s intelligence a long time ago. The man dedicated his existence to fighting crime when he was 13, in some cases, younger. Watching him figure out things in comics and television is amazing. Hush gets the best of him because it’s the LAST person Bruce suspects, but Batman was always working to figure out who was ruining his life. The other parts of this story that are elevated by Bruce’s thoughts are his relationship in this story with Catwoman. I know, didn’t think there was much else to fit, right? Well, Loeb and Lee say you’re wrong. This, is my favorite part about this story because it takes Batman in a new direction and gives him some much-needed development.

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Batman and Catwoman have always had a weird relationship. Batman may be a weird, lonely man, but he’s still a man. He loves women and sometimes they can get the best of him. Catwoman aka Selina Kyle has gotten the best of him a few times. In this story, she’s an ally, for the most part, and it’s because of an iconic kiss they share early in the story. Killer Croc holds a boy ransom for 10 million dollars. Catwoman shows up and steals the money. She’s under Poison Ivy’s control, which is all part of Hush’s bigger plan. Catwoman is grateful because Batman saved her life earlier in the story. She tries to thank him, and it ends up with them kissing. It’s a beautifully drawn moment by Jim Lee. One of the most memorable images in this story. Why do I love this part? It’s simple. Earlier, I stated how I’m dying for Bruce Wayne to become the focus in DC Comics. Almost everything that can be done with Batman has been done. Seeing through Bruce Wayne’s lens makes Batman comics more interesting. When he kissed Catwoman, he could hardly process it. He was vulnerable where he shouldn’t have been, but he liked it. He didn’t care how vulnerable it made him. Throughout the rest of the story, he thinks about her. Thinks about kissing her, thinks about losing her. The big moment in this comic comes when Bruce is forced to make a tough decision. Nightwing and Batman are travelling to Gotham. Nightwing is my favorite character in DC Comics because his optimism and attitude are something I think we should all have in life. He’s always been that voice of hope in Bruce’s ear, especially when he got older. Nightwing was/is never afraid to tell Bruce how it is. In the Batmobile, he tells Bruce that he needs to tell Catwoman who he really is. She knows who both Batman and Bruce Wayne are, but not that they are the same person. Nightwing’s a bit harsh in his criticism of Bruce’s past relationships, but he’s far from wrong. This, along with some of the other interactions about Catwoman make this story great. My wrestling coach used to tell me that girls give you wobbly knees. I didn’t really believe him until I saw my then girlfriend at my wrestling match for the first time. Women do something to us, especially when we’re in our zone. When I wrestled in high school, I felt like Batman. Bruce Wayne is Batman, so you can only imagine the wobbly knees he felt when all of his feelings erupted about Catwoman. And we didn’t have to imagine too hard because Loeb and Lee did a great job of showing the Dark Knight’s indecisiveness in Hush.

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CONCLUSION

In terms of pure story and villains, this isn’t my favorite Batman story. Year One, Court of Owls, Long Halloween, and more actually come before this one. But, this story is a unique one. Unique in how well it blended all the elements of comic books together. Action, mixed with detective work, great dialogue, narration, love, flashbacks, multiple villains, this story puts it together extremely well. Plus, when you can introduce a new villain in comics, it adds to the mythos of a character. I don’t know if this story gets enough credit for that. Hush, Tommy Elliot, isn’t one of the villains that come out of people’s mouths when naming Batman’s rouges gallery. I’m not sure where else he popped up after this story, but bringing him back for a future storyline would be interesting to see. He’s a personal villain for Batman, mainly because he’s a villain for Bruce Wayne. The more Bruce Wayne, the better to me, especially in 2017 and beyond. This story didn’t define any Batman era, but it’s one of the most prominent stories during the “I’m Batman” era. Except, The Dark Knight starts the story with a fractured skull, is outsmarted the entire comic, and suffers from wobbly knees because of the beautiful Selina Kyle. What a great story. Hopefully, I’ve been able to convey why I, love Batman: Hush.

 

Did you enjoy this review? What’s your favorite Batman story? Comment with your favorite Bat story below and make sure to follow me on Twitter @Hero_Review for more updates on future reviews. The “Why I Love” series won’t be stopping anytime soon. Next, I’m going to talk about why I love……Nighthawk. Don’t know who that is? Don’t worry, I got you covered in the next “Why I Love” Until next time everyone. Remember, this world sucks, but comics don’t. Peace, Love, and Comics!!

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