Comic Book: Batman Hush

"Without friends, no man would choose to live, though he had all other goods."

Batman: Hush is a 12-issue story, out of the monthly Batman comic, published between December 2002-September 2003, written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair.

It was kind of a big deal.

Critically well-liked, and artistically beloved, it marked Jim Lee’s first major return to monthly comics since Heroes Reborn for Marvel in the mid 90s, plus his first collaboration with Jeph Loeb (who to that point had made a name for himself on Challengers Of The Unknown, plus the Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween specials, The Long Halloween, and Dark Victory).

It broke sales and reprint records left and right, worked alongside stories from the comics of the day (namely Lex Luthor being president of these states united, Jim Gordon’s retirement, plus Gotham still recovering from an earthquake and No Mans Land), and had massive repercussions that to a large extent still impact the Bat-universe to this day.

The plot goes something like this: an old/new enemy of the Batman is striking at him in all new, all-murdery ways. At the same time, the B-man undergoes a deeply introspective deconstruction that brings into question his views on his allies, his villains, and himself. Characters and themes introduced here (namely Dr Thomas Elliot) show up in other cross-media places, like Gotham and the Batman: Arkham series

Loeb tied up some threads from this story in his run on Superman/Batman, and eventually went off to Marvel; while Jim Lee went on to draw Crazy Steve for Frank Miller in 2006, and later still become one of DC’s co-publishers.

Batman: Hush contains examples of:
  • Above Suspicion: The Riddler, by Batman, due to not changing his MO when all the other villains are mysteriously empowered. Proves to be foreshadowing.
  • Abusive Parents: Part of Hush’s backstory. Also his Freudian Excuse.
  • Absolute Cleavage: Catwoman’s suit, zipped up to just before the breaking point. Shades of Arkham City.
  • Action Girl: Catwoman, Huntress, Harley, and Poison Ivy.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Huntress, perennially left out of the Bat-family, and smarting because of it.
  • Another Story for Another Time: Hush’s backstory and connection to Bruce get deeper explanations years later, during the Heart of Hush story and Batman R.I.P..
  • Art Shift: Lee uses painted art for flashbacks (lighter softer tones for when young Bruce and Tommy seeing the Alan Scott Green Lantern, and blood red for when Batman flashback-revisits the death of Jason and the crippling of Barbara).
  • Back for the Dead: Harold, Batman’s old mechanic from the 90s.
  • Bad Ass: Come on, it’s Batman. Poison Ivy also qualifies for her effective control of Big Blue.
  • Badass Boast: “Deep down, Clark is a good person, and deep down...I'm not.”
  • Bait and Switch: About half-way through, there’s a good amount of set-up dedicated to making you think it’s Jason Todd come back to life and responsible for Bruce’s woes. It isn’t (not until later anyway): it’s Tommy.
  • Bald of Evil: Luthor. Averted with Harvey Dent.
  • Betty and Veronica: Talia and Selina.
  • Big Bad or Big Bad Wannabe: Hush, depending on how you read his actions.
  • Bigger Bad: The Riddler. No, really.
  • Black Comedy: The Joker, in one of the reprint covers, wears a shirt reading “I Killed Jason Todd and all I got Was This Lousy T-shirt.”
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Huntress, thanks to the Scarecrow. Superman, thanks to Poison Ivy. Batman thinks he is due to a tracker Hush implanted in his brain.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Gordon’s default setting.
  • The Cameo: Lex Luthor. Amanda Waller. Ra’s al Ghul may also qualify.
  • Continuity Nod: Where to start? Being a Loeb story, it's a cavalcade of continuity references, a good deal of them to the Long Halloween and Dark Victory. Here’s a few:
    • The Falcone penthouse shows up in #613.
    • Dent mentions that the Joker broke into Dent’s home and beat him up. This was in The Long Halloween #4.
    • Scarecrow talks in nursery rhymes again.
    • Whole Plot Reference to the above stories: A mysterious new villain shows up with a new scheme, in the process testing the Batman’s resolve while he deals with his existing Rogues.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Ash from the Lazarus Pit.
  • The Chessmaster: Hush’s default setting.
  • The Cliffhanger: Loeb’s Signature Style, honed to mind-numbing perfection. Where to start?
    • Poison Ivy is controlling Superman.
    • The Joker shot and killed Tommy.
    • Harvey Dent is back.
      • And reformed. And releasing the Joker from Arkham.
      • Because the Joker didn’t kill Elliot.
    • Huntress is brainwashed and crazy.
      • Because the Scarecrow played tiddlywinks with her mind.
    • Jason is back.
    • But it’s really Clayface.
      • But Jason’s grave is empty.
    • It was all the Riddler’s doing.
  • Complexity Addiction: The Riddler’s MO. Deconstructed like everything else, as it leaves him technically victorious knowing Batman’s identity but unable to do anything about it or else Ra’s would come for his head.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Batman does his best against Superman, thus giving all new fire to many an internet forum war to come.
  • Dating Catwoman: A central conceit of the story. Deconstructed to hell and back.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Not to the extent of The Long Halloween and Dark Victory, but this story really brings into question Batman’s lone wolf tendencies; plus Catwoman’s; the efficacy of the Rogues; the effectiveness of Batman's detective abilities; his relationships with his family; his relationship with Superman; and ultimately, whether he can really be happy or not. The answer is no.
  • Demoted to Extra: The Joker, reduced to a patsy in the newcomer Hush’s scheme.
  • Downer Ending: Bruce and Selina don’t stay together; Jason’s tomb is empty (this gets way worse; Under the Red Hood); and Hush is still out there.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Nightwing, dear God, Nightwing.
  • Evil Is Petty: Basically, Hush’s calling card.
  • Faux Shadow: There’s a good amount of implication that Luthor or Lex Corp is behind Poison Ivy’s actions and supplied her with Green Kryptonite lipstick with which to control Superman. Turns out to be nothing.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Hush. By the end of the story, he’s shaken Bruce pretty badly—and years later during ‘Hush Returns’ and 'Heart of Hush’ Batman is still scared of him.
  • Glurge: Bruce reading ‘O Captain my Captain’ at Tommy’s funeral, or so Selina thinks.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Gordon’s usual caveat to Batman. Said as Batman throttles Mister J to within inches of life.
  • Inner Monologue: To great effect.
  • Irrational Hatred: Tim pretends to have one for Selina.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Batman’s main bone of contention in having a meaningful relationship with Selina. Expanded upon later in the sister story ‘Heart of Hush’.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: DC’s first big return to these since those carefree days of the 90s. They went through about six reprints of the Superman-vs-Batman issue (#612) based on the cover alone.
  • Meaningful Name: Hush, as parcelled out from the nursery rhyme. From leading authority on the subject, Edward Nigma, “it’s about a child who can never be satisfied."
  • My Greatest Failure: Batman goes through his greatest hits as he beats the Joker to death.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Batman beats the everlasting shit out of the Joker.
    • Batman also does his best to stop Superman giving ‘’him’’ one.
  • Odd Friendship: Batman continually examines his relationship to [[Franchise/Superman Big Blue]] this way.
  • Oh Crap!: Batman lets a huge one go when he sees Poison Ivy mind-controlling Superman.
  • One-Scene Wonder: President Luthor. Finds out Batman kidnapped Talia and promises vengeance...Soon.
    • Expanded upon in Loeb’s Superman/Batman series.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Tommy towards Batman. Because Bruce’s parents died and Tommy's lived.
  • Remember the New Guy: Thomas Elliot, old money and childhood friend of Bruce Wayne. Completely new to this story.
    • Invoked by Tim and Dick during Tommy’s funeral, but never brought up again.
  • Retcon: Subjected to one about itself not long after story’s end. Turns out it wasn’t just Clayface pretending to be Jason, it was Jason all along.
  • Rogues Gallery Showcase: The other central conceit of the story.
  • Scenery Porn: Just look at the way Jim Lee draws Gotham City.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Tommy. A trait he shares with his evil mentor, the (Blatant Lies highly ethical and very lovely Dr Jonathan Crane.
  • Batman Cold Open: Of a kind. Croc’s kidnapping plot kicks the whole thing off, but gets wrapped up three issues in when Waller carts him off.
  • Smug Snake: Clayface as Jason. Shades of Arkham Knight!
  • Spanner in the Works: Hush did not count on Harvey Dent reasserting himself, and saving the day, after being surgically cured of Two-Face.
  • Superman Stays out of Gotham: But Batman doesn't stay out of Metropolis.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Riddler, of all the people. Lampshaded heavily in-story.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: young Tommy Elliot, just a little too cool and cruel in the way he speaks and acts, especially towards young Bruce.
  • Tracking Device: Hush has one in Bruce’s brain.
  • Unexpected Character: Harvey Dent.
  • Unreveal Reveal: Hush’s true identity, given the fairly transparent foreshadowing. Led to some Internet Backlash decrying the lack of a compelling mystery.
  • The Vamp: Poison Ivy and Catwoman.
  • Verbal Tic: The Scarecrow. Nursery rhymes. Even as Batman beats his face in.
  • Villain Team Up: Loeb’s hallmark. Specifically, the Riddler and Hush being able to convince all the major players to go along with it: Scarecrow gets to do more research, Harley gets to work with the Joker, and the Joker signs on when he hears they’re going to piss on Jason Todd’s lawn.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Bruce and Selina do, until they don’t.
  • Xanatos Pileup: At a rate approaching or even surpassing those in The Long Halloween and Dark Victory. Hush himself works through nearly every entry on the Gambit Index.

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