Review and Summary of Batman: Hush by author Jeph Loeb, Illustrations Jim Lee
Spoiler Free Review
In the middle of my notes for this DC comic book there is one line that stood out. Alone amidst plot points and character names I wrote, “this book is too complicated.” That pretty much sums up my feelings about Batman: Hush.
Here’s the deal, I don’t like Batman. I know, hear me out. I like Gotham, I like the world in which he lives. The villains are great, many of his companions are great, but I don’t like Batman. I’ll probably write a much longer post on all the reasons he’s unlikable at some point but for now just know that going in I don’t read a lot of Batman comics.
I am however, familiar with Gotham and many of its characters. I even recognized about 95% of the characters in this book, of which there are way too many. But not being a Batman fangirl I didn’t get lost in the endless cameos, I found them tedious.
Hush has a very convoluted plot orchestrated against Batman by a mysterious figure in a trench coat. This figure has somehow gained control over… everyone. This book has everyone. It starts with Killer Croc and Poison Ivy but also leaps through the Joker, Harley Quinn, Superman and Lois Lane, Amanda Waller, Harvey Dent, Jim Gordon, Ra’s Al Ghul, Talia, Oracle, Huntress, every Robin that has ever been, Clayface, Scarecrow, The Riddler, every non-powered human in Bruce Wayne’s employ, and of course, Catwoman.
So Batman spends the entire book trying to figure out who he can trust. He mainly wants to know if he should finally give in and trust Selina Kyle, Catwoman. Through many disorienting twists and false endings he arrives at a conclusion that I found ultimately dissatisfying.
I think by the end I just felt jerked around. The book is largely supposed to be a mystery but the reader is never given a chance to solve it themselves. They just have to follow “the world’s greatest detective” as he slowly loses trust in even himself and the mystery is finally revealed to him and to us. Just felt like getting slapped with a bunch of red herrings along the way.
This is not to say that this book is objectively bad. It might fare better with bigger fans of Batman or fans who like to see an endless parade of DC characters. It’s just not for me.
That being said the art is quite stunning and I really enjoyed the character design. Also, two of the aforementioned Robins are kinda really hot! Why didn’t anyone tell me?!
Ahem, anyway. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if it were slimmer. Just needed some fat trimmed. But I can appreciate how it is an important story line for Batman’s character and I understand why some people really like it.
3/5 bats 🦇🦇🦇
The comic book has also been turned into an animated film of the same name.
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Batman: Hush Summary
Okay, so this one is complicated. Imagine I just took a deep breath cause I’m gonna speed through Batman: Hush.
Batman saves a young boy from being kidnapped and held ransom by Killer Croc, Catwoman steals the ransom money and gives it to Poison Ivy who has her under her control, Batman gets injured pursuing Catwoman.
Huntress rescues Batman from Crime Alley but is barely conscious, he signals to Alfred to contact an old childhood friend named Thomas Elliot, Tommy, who is now a surgeon to perform the necessary surgeries to make him well again.
Now that Batman is fresh out of brain surgery he’s capable of searching for Killer Croc who is also searching for Catwoman but she gave the money to Ivy so he tries to kill her and Batman saves her. Amanda Waller’s crew takes Croc away because he’s slowly turning into a weird crocodile venom lookalike in little cutoff Hulk shorts.
Pause, I hope you recognize all of these characters so far. As is the case with many comic books, you’re supposed to just know all about them before the book starts so there’s no background or exposition to help you along the way. Killer Croc is a big scary crocodile man who’s often part of The Suicide Squad run by shady Amanda Waller who is generally evil but plays good. Huntress is a regular member of Birds of Prey and common ally to Batman and family. Poison Ivy is an antihero ecoterrorist. If you don’t know Catwoman then Batman: Hush probably isn’t a great comic book to start with.
So after Batman saves Catwoman she kisses him and we’re off on one of the main plots! Batman and Catwoman, will they? won’t they? Let’s see!
There’s a long standing history of the relationship between these two. Their conflicting morals often tear them apart from their chemistry but they keep coming back to each other in a give and take of love and war. Author Tom King had them getting married but nothing is forever in comic books and this couple just has too many layers to keep it simple.
Together they go to Metropolis to search for Ivy. Bruce Wayne and Tommy run into each other but Bruce has Batman things to do and can’t catch up with old friends now! Batman finds Ivy and rescues Catwoman again, kind of. Ivy also has Superman under her spell. For the unfamiliar, Poison Ivy has pheromone powers that act as a sort of mind control.
Catwoman uses Lois Lane as bait for Superman. It works, they capture Ivy.
Flash back to Gotham where Bruce is attending the opera and runs into Selina Kyle. Selina does not know that Bruce is Batman but Bruce knows that Selina is Catwoman and that they just kissed and this is all starting to sound like a sitcom.
Harley Quinn shows up to rob the Opera, shoots Catwoman. Joker appears and shoots Tommy. Oh yeah, Tommy is there. Remember when I said it was complicated and has a lot of characters? That’s when summaries start to read like this.
Bruce changes into Batman and wants to kill Joker but Jim Gordon arrives in time to stop him. Joker says he’s innocent and surprisingly Batman agrees.
Then in a seemingly unrelated incident we see The Riddler getting arrested for robbery. Harvey Dent shows up, he’s no longer Two-Face because famed brain and plastic surgeon (a highly unusual combination of specialties) Tommy fixed his face, he gets Joker out of Arkham and Batman reveals himself to Catwoman.
Take a breath. It is at this point in my notes that I simply wrote, “this book is too complicated.” And I think it is at this point in this review that you’ll know if this book is for you or not. If you got through all those characters and thought, “this sounds exciting!” then go pick this up right now! But, if you could barely even follow my synopsis and felt overwhelmed by so many moving pieces then this book is not for you.
Harvey sneaks into Jim Gordon’s place while he’s sleeping and tells him that his, meaning Jim’s, gun was the one used to kill Tommy.
Catwoman is now with Talia, Ra’s Al Ghul’s daughter and Batman’s former lover, while Batman goes to fight Ra’s. Why? Because any time someone dies in DC they get to consider using Ra’s’ Lazarus Pit to bring them back. It’s honestly a big pet peeve of mine.
And now we’re back at the Batcave where the current Robin, Tim Drake, tricks Selina into thinking that he doesn’t want her around in order to prove some sort of lesson about trust. Selina leaves cause she doesn’t play like that!
Huntress attacks Catwoman because she’s been contaminated with fear by the Scarecrow and then the dead Robin, Jason Todd, shows up and declares himself the mastermind behind all of the complicated goings on. There’s a lot of different forms of mind control in this book, another reason it gets pretty complicated.
Nevermind! It’s actually Clayface.
Then someone named Harold, the only character in this I actually didn’t know who he was but didn’t care enough to look deeper into it, is introduced and then immediately shot and killed.
Who shot him? Tommy. He’s alive. Dead Tommy was actually Clayface. Shot by Harvey with Jim’s gun. Keeping up?
Now we get the real ending. Riddler, Hush is the Riddler. He created a mystery man named Hush who is a bandaged figure in a trench coat who’s been kinda around this whole story but got lost amidst the dozens of other characters and plots. Although there are many villains throughout Batman: Hush, the true villain is The Riddler who’s barely even present.
But his name is Hush and now Batman knows that and then he goes out to get romantic with Catwoman but he’s so rattled with trust issues that when she says the word “hush” he decides to leave her forever because she can’t be trusted even though now she already knows his identity and biggest secret.
*let’s out huge breath*
So there you have it. Batman Hush.
Overall, I think this one comes down to how much of a DC fanperson you are. If you get a kick out of every character showing up to play a part I think you’ll enjoy this one enough to give it a shot. But for me it just didn’t work.
It’s too complicated, too messy, and too long. I don’t like mysteries that don’t give the reader a chance to solve it themselves. This book had three red herring false endings and I got bored with getting slapped around.
I did, however, really enjoy the art and character design. Check out Huntress for instance:
Everyone in this book looked effing cool! The women were also super badass and I always love when that happens.
Even with the overarching plot of the Batman/Catwoman romance Catwoman was always her own character and didn’t mess around with any of Batman’s issues just because she should end up his lady. She’s way stronger than that!
Are you a Batman lover/ DC completist? Then pick this one up! Otherwise, you can probably pass.
3/5 bats 🦇🦇🦇
There is much argument around this topic in the DC fandom. Officially, Batman: Hush is no longer considered canon. However, many fans opt to keep it as canon since it is largely considered to be a staple read for Batman followers.
Just remember fans, the real canon is the friends you make along the way. And Jason Todd.