Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artists: Jim Lee (p), Scott Williams (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Oh thank God. Jeph Loeb somewhat redeems himself this issue by revealing that Hush is not in fact Jason Todd. I agreed with former Bat-book editor Denny OíNeil when he said, ďIt would be a really sleazy stunt to bring him back,Ē so my relief knows no bounds and this fact alone adds a bullet to my rating of this issue. Unfortunately, I canít say this issue won me over as I find my enthusiasm for this story at lower than itís been in the previous 11 months.
I can appreciate a mystery as much of the next guy, but when one is as inscrutable as ďHushĒ I find myself losing interest rather quickly. I thought the point of such a story was to challenge readers to figure out whom the bad guy is, but with so many contradicting clues Loeb has made that an almost impossible task. With the dense and rather intricate plot of this story arc I find myself having to work too hard to get any enjoyment out of Batman and really looking forward to the next creative team. This arc has gone on for about 5 issues too long by now and the ďvillain-of-the-monthĒ pacing has reduced this book much to close to the level of self-parody especially given that Iím sure weíll be treated to a long batch of exposition next issue explaining every villainís role in the conspiracy.
Given that comic fans have long memories, itís almost a contradiction to say that Iíve forgotten a lot of whatís happened in the earlier issues of ďHush,Ē and the fact that I donít care to go reread them is a pretty damning statement. The story has become near-impenetrable for casual Bat fans, and since thatís what I would call myself thatís become too frustrating especially given that we find out in this issue how the mystery villain was able to access the Batcave. Loeb is calling upon some rather old Bat-history here, and given that, like many others, Iím new to this title and donít know who Harold is his presence means absolutely nothing to me. I was expecting someone like Jim Gordon to turn around when I saw the white hair and overcoat, not some old man Iíve never seen before. I get that this was supposed to be a powerful moment, but the significance was lost on me.
Jim Leeís art continues to impress. The man still has it after a long layoff, and to maintain this level of quality for 12 straight issues cannot have been easy. His action scenes are easy to follow (not something I can say about a lot of artists these days) and I find it hard to point out a panel that I didnít think worked. I have no idea how Lee creates his flashback panels, but those few images are always the strongest of the issue, and thatís the case this time out. It could be the contrast of the washed out colors against the vibrant present day stuff, but Iíd like to see Lee use that style for an entire issue.
I would call this issue a satisfying disappointment; satisfying because Hush isnít Jason Todd, but disappointing because I donít buy too much of whatís going on. Given that Batman is written like the smartest person on the planet in every other book heís in, he should have figured out that he was fighting Clayface much earlier than he did and he should have deduced Hushís identity by now. Loeb leaves too many threads loose going into the finale, and Iím skeptical that heíll be able to tie them altogether in the end.
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