[World of Bats] Casefile 006 -- Batman: Hush

Hello again and welcome to the World of Bats, the Batman Book Club!

Here we are again with another Casefile! This is a special edition where we detail a story that is way too long to cover for a standard week-long entry of our book club, that lasts for the entire month.

And this month, with it being Asian Heritage Month and, well, because it’s been a big hole in our coverage of all things Bat, we’re going to cover Batman #608-619, also known as “Hush,” written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Jim Lee.

Gotham City is infected by a crime epidemic and all of Batman’s enemies have emerged to throw his life into utter chaos. But little do they know, they’re all pawns of the villainous Hush in an elaborate game of revenge against Bruce Wayne. Pushed past his breaking point, Batman will need to use more than the world’s greatest detective skills to uncover the true identity of this mysterious mastermind before it’s too late.

And thanks to DCUI, there’s a handy-dandy Storyline where you can find all twelve issues in one spot. You can find the link down below:

Batman: Hush

As mentioned before, this reading will go from 2021-05-01T05:00:00Z2021-05-31T05:00:00Z, but if you find yourself enraptured in the spell of Poison Ivy and restart your life of crime during that time, you can always come in and share your thoughts. :slight_smile:

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Okay, let’s start the rundown:

  • Batman #608:
    For a number of years in the late 90s and early 00s, the Batman and 'Tec titles seemed to be interchangeable. After the conclusion of No Man’s Land, they both leaned into a more low-key crime thriller approach. Batman #608 is significant in marking a return to the idea that the two books should appeal to different audiences (or at least offer different reading experiences). Detective Comics stayed the course and thereby felt like the less important of the two series in the grander scheme of the DCU, while the Batman series brought back the more overt superheroics and supervillainy. For that reason, it’s an important issue, no matter how I feel about it otherwise.

  • Batman #609:
    And here’s where the real problems start. Oh, we have this never-mentioned-before childhood friend of our hero, and he is showing up conveniently alongside the arrival of a new supervillain? Yeah, no mystery here. Any chance that Tommy would be something other than a bad guy was dismissed once we received a stylized flashback. (Speaking of the art, it’s often pretty good, but perhaps more detailed than necessary for a monthly comic. Oh, and everyone has way too many lines on their faces! Keep your Image out of my DC!) And while I’m griping, may I complain about Bruce doing a Knightfall-level recovery in the span of one issue?

  • Batman #610:
    Okay, so I didn’t mention it before, but I hate, hate, hate this redesign for Killer Croc. Remember back in the 1980s when he was a crime lord? Now, he apparently can’t even plot a kidnapping by himself. Speaking of Croc’s debut, it was also the debut of a certain second Boy Wonder, and this issue is dropping some hard hints that he has returned from the dead. (We’re still getting Tommy flashbacks, so if Jason is up and running again, it’s almost certainly thanks to our newly-introduced miracle doctor, who may hold a grudge against Bats.) Oh, and Batman and Catwoman make out, which puts us even more squarely back in the realm of early 1980s Batman stories.

  • Batman #611:
    The cameo-fest really takes off. For instance, we get an Alan Scott flashback. Cool, I suppose, but can we get on with the story? No, Jeph? This is just a filler issue designed to set up yet another shocking final page? Okay, whatever. I’d argue that the story needed to take a breather before Bruce put on the cowl again, not after, but fine. On an unrelated note, Lois does the Margot Kidder thing, and Jeph Loeb hints that he’d really rather be writing some kind of Superman/Batman team-up book…

  • Batman #612:
    Well, that was all a pretty pointless excursion, wasn’t it? Surely we could have wrapped up the Poison Ivy section of the plot without going to Metropolis and staging a contrived fight between Batman and Superman. But no, the Hush story arc isn’t about the Hush story arc. It’s about coming up with excuses to do fanservice. Yawn.

The interesting thing about hush is they did write it in such a way as to make you wonder if Catwoman had ulterior motives. however Really Catwoman vol 3 32 should be read after hush.

  • Batman #613:
    Get it? Tommy said, “Hush.” And no one was fooled by that ending, right? We’ve all read The Long Halloween. Not buying it. On a positive note, Catwoman is the highlight of this entire arc.

  • Batman #614:
    Is it really a good idea to remind us that there were far more appropriate times for Batman to cross the line and kill the Joker? It just reassures us that the outcome of this encounter is inevitable. Even if he had beaten the Clown Prince of Crime to “death,” Batman would’ve just pulled the same stunt he pulled in Last Laugh and revived him. Meanwhile, the last panel suggests that Hush is actually Harvey Dent, which doesn’t really fit with anything we’ve seen up until this point…

  • Batman #615:
    We’re still doing this flashback thing, so Tommy is obviously not really dead. Otherwise, who cares about their backstory as children? And now we know that the Batman Forever Batmobile is canon, so hooray? I’ll give Jeph credit for the “Denny’s on Adams” joke, though. Less credit for the Riddler-bashing. Even less credit for ruining Batman’s unmasking by intercutting it with Hush’s unmasking.

  • Batman #616:
    Talia asks, “Why are you doing this?” And I ask the same question. We’re redoing Bronze Age Batman stuff just for the sake of doing it (and to imply the return of Jason Todd at some point in this arc, I suppose). Well, to be fair, we’re also doing some Dark Knight Returns with the bald–and cured–Harvey Dent. Either way, it’s just one big issue of Batman’s Greatest Hits, redrawn by Jim Lee.

  • Batman #617:
    Jason Todd gets alluded to yet again at the start of this issue. I wonder why? Oh, that’s why: we finally get the very sensible reveal that the whole story has carefully set up in previous issues. I’m sure nothing will go wrong in the next issue. (Then again, something has already gone wrong, since this is the second Hush unmasking so far. We still haven’t seen any reason for the previous one, so I suppose we should assume at the moment that Hush is more than one person.)

  • Batman #618:
    For all of my complaints about the previous issues, I’d willingly declare them all nitpicks in an otherwise decent story if this issue had played out differently. (After all, Under the Hood has many of the same problems, but I enjoy that story despite those nitpicks.) But no, Jeph Loeb has to be so “clever” that he will undermine a plot development with great emotional weight and trade it in for something with no impact whatsoever. (Was anyone really all that upset when Harold went turncoat here?) Thankfully, this issue was later retconned so that Jason actually was present for part of this fight, but it’s still such an irritating bait-and-switch that it ruins the entire arc and reduces it to a shaggy dog story.

  • Batman #619:
    And instead of our villain being someone with whom the readers have a long history, it’s instead a newly-introduced character who we’ve been told has a long history with Batman. It just doesn’t have the same impact. And if that weren’t bad enough, Loeb has to repeat his “bonus silly twist at the end” bit from The Long Halloween. You know, I didn’t think that the Riddler was a pathetic has-been rogue, so you’ve already lost me.