I’m pretty sure every man and their dog knows my opinion on Hush by now, but for the sake of rounding out this little self-indulgent exploration – and since the thesis has left me bereft of the ability to consume new comics this week – I’ll clarify my thoughts thusly.
Hush is pretty much the first major comic book I ever read from start to finish. I can’t remember if Watchmen came before, and there is a good chance it did, but Hush is at the very least the first Batman book I ever read. Coming on the heels of The Dark Knight I was in something of a Batman fever, and Hush was the cure to all my ills.
God that wordplay was awful. If I ever use a medical metaphor in this blog again, feel free to sue.
By today’s standards the story is actually kinda basic; it’s essentially a massive beat-em-up between Batman and almost every member of his Rogues Gallery, all while a mysterious puppetmaster (the eponymous Hush) orchestrates things from behind the scenes. There are moments of cerebral, thought-provoking character development – predominantly in terms of Batman’s growing relationship with Catwoman and the memories stirred with his reunion by childhood friend Tommy Elliott – but on the whole it’s good ol’ popcorn fun from start to finish with some dark undertones throughout.
Admittedly I am quite biased when it comes to Hush, seeing as it was my first real look into the Bat-mythos and one of my first real experiences with graphic novels, but it really is a greatly accessible, enjoyable read. I love it because you can pick it up as a first-time reader and get what’s going on without too much knowledge of backstory. I love it because there’s appearances – big and little – of almost every major character in Batman’s pantheon. I love it because Catwoman is actually decently proportioned without looking like Hugh Hefner’s Fetish Bunny. And also – it’s really, really pretty.
As some of you may remember I’ve got a bit of a thing for the artwork of creative duo Jim Lee and Scott Williams. This was the first time I’d seen their art and by Fishchrist it was beautiful. The colours, the layering, the background details, the lines of articulation…it was absolutely sublime. Even Superman didn’t look too bad – and for a time when I wasn’t open to new ideas, that’s saying a lot.
The dialogue was quite well written, and didn’t swing towards either the Grant Morrison method of telling you nothing or the Tony Daniel gameplan of telling you bugger all. It was a nice, Goldilocks-zone of wording with some great snark on behalf of resident deadpanners Robin and Nightwing. Admittedly Batman did get a little self-indulgent here and there, with some lines bordering on Frank Miller-esque ego-stroking about how kickass he is, but in a story like this – especially as a gateway entry to the mythos as a whole – it actually work really well.
While this is my favourite Bat-book in the whole of ever, there are others that can surpass it in both creativity and storyline, and to the veteran fan it might be a great read but not necessarily top of the list. Despite all the books I’ve read since – and trust me, when it comes to Batman there’s been a lot of them – Hush is still, and probably always will be, my favourite Bat-story of all time, and by extension my favourite graphic novel (at least at time of writing). It’s a solid, durable, engaging, action-packed, deeply character-based story that new fans can enjoy from scratch and old fans will almost certainly get a kick out of anyway.
So that’s the end of my Top 5, for the few of you who decided to join me on this little odyssey of self-indulgence. It’s quite probable that in years to come the list will change, replaced by newer, bigger, darker stories as we move further into the post-9/11 cynical age of global security and lack of social justice. But hey, if we’re all still around in twenty years time – after the nuclear winter ends and the US declares war on parts of itself – let’s get back together here and update the list, yeah?
TOP 5 ENTRY NO. 1 – BATMAN: HUSH
BEST QUOTE: “Criminals, by nature, are a cowardly and superstitious lot. To instill fear into their hearts, I became a bat. A monster in the night. And in doing so, have I become the very thing that all monsters become – alone?” – Batman