November 24, 2009

Getting Graphic: "Batman: Hush" Volumes 1 & 2 by Jeph Loeb

Title: Batman: Hush Volumes 1 & 2
Author: Jeph Loeb; illustrated by Jim Lee (with Scott Williams)

Volume 1:
Published: DC Comic (2003)
Pages: 128
ISBN 1401200605
ISBN-13 9781401200602

Volume 2:
Published: DC Comics (2004)
Pages: 192
ISBN 1401200923
ISBN-13 9781401200923

Growing up, Batman was probably my favorite superhero. I think there might be something to the old adage that a kid is either a fan of Superman or Batman, because I was not a fan of Superman. The Dark Knight was a bad-ass sans super powers with one of the coolest costumes in all of comics. Am I wrong? I don't think so.

I loved the Tim Burton film, I used to faithfully watch the Adam West series as reruns on Saturday mornings, and when the animated series started up in the 90s I watched that without fail too. But I've never read a Batman comic book until now. And, boy howdy, did I pick a good one.

In the first volume, Batman gets the holy heck beat out of him in the course of thwarting Killer Croc's latest rampage, not to mention chasing down Catwoman across Gotham before being shot down by a masked newcomer. This new antagonist quickly establishes himself as a puppetmaster, manipulating several of the characters in Batman's life--good and bad--in order to make Batman's life a living hell. Batsy even finds himself at odds with the Man of Steel, Superman, during the course of the first volume. Crazy stuff all the way around.

And it only gets more dangerous and more precarious for Batman in the second volume, as his past comes back to haunt him on more than one occasion with familiar faces seemingly turning their backs on him, as he continues to struggle in his efforts to find out the identity of Hush. And while the big reveal may not be what you expected, or even what you wanted, there is a certain level of believability and justness to how the story ends.

The artwork is fantastic, as Jim Lee really shows off his talents in this series. I'm not a devotee to the world of comics, but I could be easily if I followed Lee's art. There is a crispness displayed in each page that is wonderfully offset by some very bleak and tragic scenes. And with so many of the major characters from the Batman mythos and beyond appearing in the "Hush" storyline, there is a lot to show off--Harley Quinn is a long-time favorite of mine, thanks to the amazing animated series.

I just wish I was the kind of guy that followed comic books with more fervor. I say this because, even though I was able to quickly hop on board and follow the subplots and character interactions, there was a great deal to the history of Batman that I'm not very familiar with and ended up having to take some stuff at face value. If I were a bigger fan, I would probable catch a lot more of the subtleties displayed inside these two volumes.

All that being said, I am in the midst of reading another Batman graphic novel, this one penned by Alan Moore, called The Killing Joke. It should be a doozy.

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