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Batman #618 [David K.]

Posted: Wednesday, September 3, 2003
By: David Kozlowski



“Hush” (chapter 11 of 12)

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artists: Jim Lee(p), Scott Williams(i)

Publisher: DC Comics

Synopsis:
Is the late Jason Todd really responsible for the death of Dr. Tommy Elliot? Has Batman’s greatest failure come back to haunt him? It should come as no surprise to anyone following this ongoing story that the discovery of one red herring ultimately leads to another. This second to last issue of “Hush” brings even more pain and indignity to the Dark Knight and his extended family.

Comments:
So we’re one issue away from completing writer Jeph Loeb’s year of living dubiously. Last issue we learned that Jason Todd is alive and might be the singular mastermind behind the string of murder and mayhem the last 11 issues. Jason appears to have returned from the grave as a mature Robin with a violent grudge against Batman. We learn Jason was subjected to one of Ra’s Al Ghul’s Lazarus Pits post-mortem and has been reborn, albeit clinically insane. Or was he? This issue is basically one big, running battle between the undead Jason Todd, Batman, Catwoman and current Robin: Tim Drake. By issue’s end we know but one thing for certain – all of the facts in this case aren’t in yet. I honestly don’t know how many more rabbits Jeph Loeb is planning to yank out of his shirtsleeve but I’m weary, oh so weary, of seeing guest allies and villains used as pawns to creep this crazy story along. I’m anxious for the next issue just to see it all end so we can move on to something new.

I’ve experienced a range of emotions during this past year of "Hush", from curious to perplexed to hostile. I don’t feel betrayed really, but I am very let down. “Hush” just feels hollow. At least in last year’s “Bruce Wayne: Murderer/Fugitive” storylines there was a genuine mystery – wherein the loss of a single life motivated every twist and turn. By contrast, in “Hush” the death of Dr. Tommy Elliot was just another plot point used to advance the story in another direction, trivializing the matter entirely. In this issue Loeb abuses the single most emotional event in Batman’s long history: Jason Todd’s death. Save for the loss of his parents there is little else so fundamental to the emotional makeup of Batman as this, and yet it turns out to be just another sleight of hand. I can accept the slaughtering of sacred cows as long as there’s a compelling reason for it – and I can’t find one here. And yet I still cling to the hope Loeb has one or two more secrets left to tell in his final chapter that will provide meaning for the seemingly pointless deaths and deceits we’ve been dealt for so many months. When penciller Jim Lee read this script I wonder if he just sat at his drawing board, hunched forward, wondering how he’s expected to lay out yet another twenty-two page fight scene and make it interesting and different from the dozen came before it. Yet somehow he does. When Lee creates a fight scene there’s a sense of physical weight and gravity to it: kicks delivered off-balance result in bodies falling to the ground; punches rip heads backwards throwing good amounts of blood and saliva – everyone in this comic should be fit with a full set of dentures by now. Lee punctuates the action every now and again with a moment of pause or reflection, it keeps the pace moving in fits and jerks - complementing Loeb’s style of writing rather well.

Final Word:
Next month we learn who’s behind “Hush” – right? Jeph Loeb will really, truly and honestly explain everything. So why is there a dark, pessimistic part of me expects a final panel depicting a silhouetted figure cackling maniacally with a great, big question mark splashed over his face. At this point I’ll accept Vincent Price’s Egghead as the responsible villain if Loeb will just end the story on a definitive, ingenuous note.



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