HUSH may be the most important Batman storyline to have come about in the last ten years. Wow. Okay I said it! Now I’m going to explain how I can say that.
As a whole, Batman is one of the few comic book lines that have needed very little in its continuum to keep in interesting. In fact, when DC did the reboot with the whole 52 thing, Batman was one of the few comics that they really didn’t want to touch. It is always interesting. There is rarely a bad storyline. Maybe, unlike Superman, Aquaman, Captain America and Iron Man, Batman is so much more than a one trick pony. He fights crime. From the neighborhood murderer to the inter-galactic take over. He basically takes them all on. His enemies range from the super powerful (Superman on a bad day) to the thug on the street. Through it all, Batman gives it all his attention and all his ability. From cool gadgets to his most powerful weapon. His mind. He is after all; the Detective in Detective Comics.
Perhaps that is what makes HUSH so impactful. For one of the few times, Batman loses his demeanor and the ability to be the master detective fails him. After all, the answer is there all along. Who is HUSH? Why is he after Batman? It is there from the very beginning and though there are several red herrings in the way, the answer is obvious. HUSH is…okay for those of you that have not read the series, I won’t say. But it is glaringly obvious and that is what many reviewers have had issue with when it comes to HUSH. But the glaring weakness with the storyline; is its greatest strength.
Batman doesn’t see it.
HUSH is not a storyline about the great detective. It is a storyline about the great distractions. And the greatest failure of the Batman that has ever been. More so because for many younger readers of Batman, it is also largely forgotten.
But for now let’s talk about the comics. Jim Lee just freaking tears up the artwork and raises the standard for Batman books to come. And story? Well is there a better Batman writer out there than Jeph Loeb? Sit your ass down Frank Miller. Why don’t you worry about why Sin City A Dame To Kill For sucked so bad? Jeph Loeb is the best Batman writer out there today, that has the ability to create his own stories and not screw up the Batman universe. Unlike Miller and that child killer Morrison. But that is a rant for another day. By the way, I don’t hate Frank Miller and think his Daredevil work is out of the this world and if Marvel and its bastard CEO (JQ) had any balls they would run with it and make DD the signature badass in their universe. But that is a rant for another day.
HUSH begins with Batman facing Killer Croc and saving a young kidnapped boy. In the battle with Croc the ransom money is stolen by Catwoman, Batman gives chase but his bat-rope is cut and he falls. Catwoman delivers the ransom money to Poison Ivy who is controlling her. A bruised and battered Batman is saved by the Huntress long enough for Oracle to summon the Batmobile and have Batman delivered back to Alfred. But his injuries from the fall are too severe and he is in need of immediate surgery and sent to the Hospital. His childhood friend Thomas Elliot, a renowned surgeon is called in to save Bruce Wayne. Healed by his good friend, Batman is back on the case and after Catwoman. Who is by now figuring out she has been duped by Poison Ivy and is feeling pretty PO’d about the whole thing. They follow Ivy to Metrolpolis where she has bewitched another person to be her protector. Yup, Super dumb ass. Batman takes on Superman and Catwoman takes down Ivy. But who masterminded the whole thing and damn doesn’t Batman think Catwoman’s butt is looking good in that tight little outfit. Yeh Batman and Catwoman action is heating up for real now. Batman returns to Gotham to see his old friend Thomas Elliot only to watch him killed by Harlequin and Joker. Nightwing returns and they face off against the Riddler and about now Batman realizes someone is pulling the strings behind the whole scene and by the way, doesn’t Catwoman look damn good in that little outfit and her purr….okay Batman in in major distraction mode. Enter Two-Face and Talia and Lex Luthor and Talia’s father, Ra’s Al Ghul and, by the way who broke into the Batcave and left a sword in the computer? “Ask yourself Detective,” Ra’s says. “Who in your life would wish to come back from the dead?” Enter Tim Drake, the new Robin and the final trap is set. For there is someone who has died and has remained dead. There have been three Robins. Dick Grayson, the boy wonder, Nightwing. The current Robin, Tim Drake, who Batman thinks will become a greater detective than himself. But there was one other. The one who came between these two. The Robin, whose bloody and broken body Batman carried in his arms. Murdered by the Joker.
Jason Todd. Who died on Batman’s watch. Jason Todd, whose grave is empty now…
Jason Todd. Ask 100 comic book readers before HUSH came out and they would have no idea who Jason Todd was. Robin died? Robin was killed by the Joker? The fans actually wanted it? Yes, DC took a poll and Jason was so disliked by the fans that his death was actually requested. Kind of harsh but that just goes to show you how much everyone loved Dick Grayson.
Jason Todd. The second Robin. Batman’s greatest failure.
Now I’m not going to give you anymore spoilers about HUSH. Was Jason really back from the dead? Was Jason HUSH. Do Bats and Cats get along? If it is Jason, what is he really after.
HUSH brought Jason Todd back to the DC universe and put him front and center for all of comic book kingdom to see. The problem is, they really didn’t do anything else with him. He got his own gig for a bit but he quickly drifted back into oblivion. Like Jean-Paul Valley, the Angel of Death Azrael…you don’t know who Azrael is do you? The successor to the cowl when Bane broke Batman’s back and Bruce Wayne couldn’t go on!! Really…alright that will be a rant for another day. Crap these are piling up. But back to HUSH and Jason.
HUSH set the groundwork for the return of Jason Todd, which in no small way sets the groundwork for the return of Damien Wayne. Bruce’s and Talia’s son, the new Robin which is a current line in the comic’s today. The possible return of Jason Todd was important in many ways. But most of all in the vulnerability of Batman. The man beneath the cowl. The man whose greatest fear could be used to destroy him. The loss of Robin. The death of Jason Todd. Which has become in too many ways, a forgotten footnote in the lore of the Batman.