Monday, February 28, 2005

'Hush'

I almost completely stopped collecting comics after I got married; it was a conscious decision, as my budget would not accomodate the 7 or so titles I had previously been collecting. I satisfied myself with continuing on one title, JSA, and that was enough for me.

A huge chunk of my collection is made up of the Batman line of titles. Batman, Detective, Robin, Catwoman, Legends of the Dark Knight, Azrael, Shadow of the Bat, all of them I put to rest.

It was an easy decision. After all, after having gone through a broken back, a new Batman, a Ebola virus, an earthquake, and No Man's Land, what else could writers put Batman through?

Then, Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee came out with Hush, last year. And my fanaticism for the Batman is rekindled.
(Aside: I know, it's a little late to be commenting on this, considering Hush ended almost a year ago. But, since I rely on my brother to buy the tradebooks now that I don't collect anymore, it takes a while for the paperbacks to come out. Hence, I only got to read Hush over the long weekend.)

The Dark Knight Detective has always been my personal favorite in the pantheon of heroes. An extraordinary man, with emphasis on the 'man.' Unlike the other heroes, the Batman has always relied on his brilliant mind and physical prowess to win the day; of course, being fabulously rich was a big help. But it was still the skills and talents he possessed, rather than the wealth, which made him who he is. No wonder Superman, in the first storyline arc of the revitalized JLA, when the Martian Primus was ranting about how Batman was only a man, said, "The most dangerous man in the whole world." (or something like that. I'll probably recheck and edit this entry) No wonder this turned out to be prophetic, as Batman's greatest foe, Ra's al Ghul, used Batman's plans to take down the entire Justice League.

Hush recalls all of Loeb's skill as a writer. Having written The Long Halloween and Dark Victory, one has come to expect the very best from Loeb, and he doesn't disappoint. Hush is every bit as good as the previous books, and tantalizes the reader with who the main mastermind is.

It's also good to see Jim Lee back on a regular basis, if only for 12 issues. It was his art style that was in vogue when I came back to comics in the early 90s, and it's wonderful to see how his art has evolved since then. He's able to capture the grittiness of the Batman, and the wash style he adopted for the flashbacks is amazing.

There are several good passages from Hush, and if you haven't read the series, you can pass this part if you don't want spoilers.

From Volume One:

Batman's musing while he was in Metropolis:

Perry White is too good a reporter not to have uncovered Clark's secret. And yet he acts otherwise...reminding me how good a detective Jim Gordon is back in Gotham City...Maybe...Clark and I both have people in our lives we could trust more than we admit...

While fighting an Ivy-controlled Superman in the sewers of Metropolis:

If Clark wanted to, he could use his superspeed and squish me into the cement. But I know how he thinks. Even more than the Kryptonite, he's got one big weakness.

Deep down, Clark's essentially a good person...

And I'm not.

From Volume Two:

Coming close to killing the Joker:

There is nothing I can do to him that would cause him the agony that he has brought upon others.

But I can come close.

Jim Gordon, stopping the Batman:

"You and I have seen more than our fair share of trgedies and thirsted for revenge. If Batman wanted to be a killer, he could have started long ago. But it's a line. On one side we believe in the law. On the other...

"Sometimes, the law fails us. Maybe that's why I've understood you...allowed you to help protect this city.

"Batman, if you cross that line -- if you kill the Joker tonight -- I will lead the hunt to bring you to justice.

"In the eyes of the law ... in my eyes you'll be no different from him.

Batman: "How many more lives are we going to let him ruin?"

Gordon: "I don't care. I won't let him ruin yours."

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