I’ve heard and know of Batman’s extensive rogue’s gallery. Besides the various television shows and movies that include the likes of villains such as the Joker or the Riddler, I also see costumes depicting the baddies at conventions. For the longest time I only knew that Harley Quinn was one of his foes, but I had no idea what her background was or even that she was tied to Mr. J. If you would have told me that there was one Batman story that included a greatest hits of many of the villains, I wouldn’t have believed you. Or I would have and then probably never have picked it up to read it because it sounds like a crazy idea.
Yet Hush by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee makes it work.
Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Joker, Riddler, Clayface, Harvey Dent, Ra’s al Ghul – they all make an appearance, and I could be forgetting someone. Oh, like the new one they introduce: Elliott. It sounds straight up ridiculous to include such a roster in one story. Even more silly to think the story would be any good. But it is. They do more than just make quick appearances, too. Each one is important to the complicated story, each one has substance, and for the most part, each one has more than a couple of pages. The plot is set up a bit like dominoes; each action sets up the next and knocks it into place.
It’s not skimpy on the allies side either. Catwoman joins Batman’s side, then there’s Nightwing, Oracle, Robin, Gordon, and Huntress. And Superman! I think it was smart to have all of them to counter all the evil with some good – well, at least some friendlies. I’m not a fan of so many people knowing Batman’s true identity though. Secret identities are secret for a reason for crying out loud.
I know Batman and Catwoman have a long and interesting past, but I don’t understand him telling her that he’s Bruce Wayne so soon. I don’t know much about the guy, but that doesn’t seem like a very Batman thing to do. I mean, it has to be hard to carry on a relationship when you’re just two masks, yet he jumped pretty quickly from “hey, we kissed” to “hey, I really care about you and am going to trust you with my secret.” What was it, a few months? I’m guessing he normally doesn’t act so rashly.
Besides the impressive cast of characters, I think Hush is a terrific example of how words should blend with art in a comic book. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but this Lee guy has some skills. The text is probably kept to a minimum to best serve the book, but it has the side effect of showcasing Lee’s art. And even though art is supposed to tell a story, I often find that without the supporting words, it just doesn’t do the trick. That’s not the case here. The writing and art blend together. Sometimes the writing takes the lead, mostly the panels do. The word bubbles just emphasize the story the panels are telling – I know that’s how it should be, but this book really stood out as an example how beautifully the two aspects of comic book storytelling can move together.
The minimal text also fits within a Batman story. I see him as being a very direct person who doesn’t take the time to use unnecessary words; I would never consider him to be verbose. Hush definitely captured that vibe. If it makes sense, there was a perfect lack of words. I didn’t come across any unnecessary fat, and really follows that The Elements of Style rule: “Make every word tell.”