Sure we all saw the leaked version of the Suicide Squad trailer from this weekend’s SDCC, but the official release is here and it is glorious.
The movie has fans divided, but if this didn’t convince naysayers, I don’t know what will. It was brilliant to have Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller narrate the first half of the trailer. Her voice is so soothing and yet commanding. She will be a chilling character.
The creepy music and the clocks ticking in the background give the affect that this movie will be unlike any DC movie you have seen before, and I count that as a step in the right direction for the DCCU.
But the most important characters revealed here were Harley Quinn and Joker.
This preview honestly made it look like this is Harley’s movie, and I couldn’t be happier. I was afraid Margot Robbie would be too glamorous for this role, but from the first reveal of her hanging upside down in her cell playing with her hair to her “shooting” her baseball bat, I believe this Harley Quinn, the first live-action one (besides her back in Arrow) is exactly what I want to see in Harley.
And as far as Jared Leto’s Joker: he is clearly making it his. That voice, that face. It’s just great.
One red blur of a week later and we arrive at the second episode of The CW’s new show, The Flash. The pilot absolutely blew us away, and we expected nothing less in the episodes to come. For better or worse, that’s precisely what we got in “Fastest Man Alive.” We saw the creeping evolution of character development, and started peeling back the layers of a major story that will eventually trap us for good. For now, however, we are subject to the same formulaic approach that all superhero shows seem to be getting at.
We get the same ubiquitous superhero voiceover, which is kind of weird since the opening segment follows an actual “intro thingy,” making his off-hand comment about it all the more awkward. We are also allotted another bad guy, affected by the storm caused by the particle accelerator, who tests Barry’s superhero aptitude. It’s not that this hurt the show’s overall momentum, but I just expected a little more variation from the pilot in terms of where the heck we are going from here. The flashback scenes didn’t reveal much more than we couldn’t already assume ourselves, nor did the drawn out speeches (again, where Barry needed to be pep-talked into saving people) inspire anything that we couldn’t have gotten from a few episodes of subtle action.
I usually refer any out-of character or otherwise eye-rolling cornball tomfoolery as being “so C-Dub,” a characteristic we’ve been doling out since the days of Smallville. The amount of C-Dub-ness in “Fastest Man Alive” approached dangerous levels, far exceeding the pilot episode, which came off as spiriting and exciting. I can only hope that Barry won’t continually need pep talks to fight crime. Barry Allen is a bleeding heart with a great sense of humor, but there needs to be a better balance between the two qualities. A tragic Oliver Queen makes sense since, you know, he was tortured on a deserted island for five years; a tortured Barry Allen just doesn’t fit.
The areas where The Flash continues to impress are its amazing supporting cast and great special effects. Although Barry Allen is now 0 for 2 in keeping the bad guy alive, the bad guys that show up are convincingly creepy and – dare I say – relatable? The story of Multiplex is a very pliable tale of sorrow and revenge. The villains are also frightening people who wear the villain scowl very well. As Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin continue to search for more meta-humans, this made us wonder if any good people were struck by the particle-accelerator’s storm, or if it only spawned a ton of tragic criminals. Either way, successfully implementing these more obscure DC Comics villains is what makes The Flash more fun to watch than say Gotham, whose token bad guys look like they are pulled from a hat (still got my fingers crossed for Kite Man).
Cisco and Caitlin continue to provide back-up for Barry as he dashes in head-first to help people. Well, Cisco continues to dive in head-first and provide Barry with the toys (Cosmic Treadmill, anybody??) while Caitlin scolds disapprovingly. It’s worth noting that Flash looks to “help people” and “make a difference,” while other Leaguers in DC Comic books have the mantra to “bring justice” and “stop crime.” Barry’s greatest asset has always been his heart, and it is an endearing quality in the show… just not when it comes to Iris West. Comic book fans, and people you use their eyes or ears to watch the show, will know that Iris ultimately becomes Barry’s greatest love interest. With the flirtatious way she touches and looks at Barry, it’s remarkable how dense she is that he is Forever Alone in the friend-zone while she galavants with Detective Eddie Thawne. The story either needs to stop being about her, or make her more likable to the millions of viewers at home who fervently get the point.
Another win for The Flash were the short demonstrations of Barry’s power. Whether it’s saving people from a burning building, vibrating his hand to simulate a centrifuge on a test tube or going Keanu Reeves on 100 would-be Agent Smiths, there is no doubt that the producers on The Flash want to give the audience the full superhero effect. This is made even more tantalizing when you think that this is just the beginning. The full spectrum of Flash’s powers is ridiculously awesome and include: creating a nifty way to store his suit, running so fast he can turn back time, vibrating through objects and eating a restaurant full of tacos in one sitting.
Hush Comics gives “Fastest Man Alive” a B. Ultimately, The Flash is shaping up to be one of the better superhero television shows on TV. The supporting cast complements Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen very well, serving as both an emotional anchor, as well as a tactical one. However, there seems to be just too much of the same thing going on here as we gathered from the pilot. To a degree, that is one of the episode’s biggest strengths; we realize that Jesse Martin, who plays Detective Joe West, is Barry’s rock here, and the conversation the two of them share at the end of the episode solidifies that (it also whispers “DOOOOOM!” for Joe to me, but I am a cynic). I know there is so much more to explore, and that makes me all the more confident that The Flash will continue to impress.
All photos belong to The CW Network and DC Entertainment. They are credited to Cate Cameronand were originally found here.
Easter Egg Hunt (spoilers ahead)
The Treadmill!: Ah! The Cosmic Treadmill. First appearing in comic books over fifty years ago (Flash #125), the pretense of the treadmill is that Barry can run so fast on this treadmill that he not only alters the fabric of time but can use it to travel to alternate dimensions. Science, bitch! Seriously though, let’s see Superman do that!
Iris’ new career choice: “Oh I’ll just make one up.” Really, Iris? Ms. West’s new-found career as a journalist is off to one crappy start. In the comics, Iris becomes a tough-as-nails reporter, but it looks like she’s faking it until she makes it in The Flash.
Pew Pew: The gun shop that Multiplex robs is called Hex’s Gun Shop, inspired by the gunslinger Jonah Hex, who for some reason can’t catch a break (canceled comic book, horrible movie). It seems the writers have a soft spot for him.
Multiplex: The villain multiplex is one of the villains in the DC Universe I think deserves a little more credibility. He may be a complete rip off of Marvel’s Multiple Man, but Multiplex is one of Firestorm’s villains in the comics, Danton Black has ties to both the Suicide Squad and Caitlin Snow (in the way of Killer Frost). From Arrow, we know that the Suicide Squad already exists, but Black’s apparent “death” at the end of “Fastest Man Alive” sure nixed that possibility.
Wait, Ronnie?: Harrison Wells reveals that Caitlin’s ex-boyfriend was (is) named Ronnie. The internets have already swarmed over the fact that Ronnie Raymond will be reappearing, and it will be as one-half of Firestorm, but this is really the first confirmation from the show that Ronnie and Caitlin will likely share the same relationship as in the comic books.
“We were all struck by that lightning”: Barry’s cheesy speech at the end of the episode could have a more literal meaning to it than we think. We already suspect that Cisco and Caitlin will reveal themselves as meta-humans, and there’s no doubt that this weirdo Harrison Wells has some powers we haven’t been revealed yet.
Speaking of Harrison Wells: Looks like my theory last week of Wells being Barry Allen crashed and burned to the ground after he stabbed ol Staggsy in the final clip of this week. In spite of recent events, we have not always known Barry Allen of the future to be benevolent; in DC’s New52 installment of The Flash, Barry Allen comes back in time to kill the current day Barry Allen to prevent the Speed Force from collapsing. We’ll undoubtedly get more into the Speed Force in subsequent issues. But it seems prevalent to note that Wells is concerned for Barry’s safety, cautioning him to “know [his] limits” and “exercise restraint.” What investment could he possibly have in Barry Allen?
After months of waiting, The CW’s new series, The Flash, finally streaked across the small screen last night. For those not familiar with Barry Allen, AKA The Flash, he is a forensics scientist in Central City. He has obsessively been trying to prove his father’s innocence of his mother’s murder, and Detective West, who had taken Allen in after the tragedy, thinks that what Barry saw the night his mother died was a hallucination. After the success of Arrow, and the positive reception Allen (Grant Gustin) received from his cameo in Arrow‘s Season 2 episode, “The Scientist,” CW quickly green-lit a solo series for the Fastest Man Alive.
Rest assured, that was a really, really good idea. Like Oliver Queen before him, choosing a hero that everybody knows of, but that not many know intimately, has become the secret formula that nobody but The CW has seemed to figure out yet. From the get-go, we’re introduced to The Flash with the promo clip we saw months ago in a way that is completely reminiscent of Andrew Garfield’s voiceover in Amazing Spider-Man. The more I thought about it, and the more we get to know Barry Allen, the more I realize that he is the Peter Parker of the DC world: he jokes all the time, he’s a goofy science kid, tragedy has left him with surrogate parents (although that doesn’t exactly narrow it down in the comic book world) and his heart of gold is his most endearing quality.
Fanboys will be instantly drawn to The Flash, as there are a profusion of Easter Eggs. And I mean real Easter Eggs, not the crap we get in Gotham. The tidbits we get in the pilot episode here are not shoved down our throat and they don’t take anything away from the enjoyment of the show – whether you’ve read Flash books or not. I will list out some of the more subtle ones we think are important (warning: there may be spoilers) after the reflection. Easter Eggs aside, this is one show that you can watch with absolutely no precursor. The events of the last Arrow episode Allen appeared in are fully explained here, so there is no need to catch up on Starling City’s happenings to understand what going on in Central City – although Steven Amell makes a much-anticipated cameo here to give Allen the proverbial thumbs-up. The particle accelerator that genius physicist Harrison Wells put into motion underwent catastrophic failure, causing Barry’s accident – being struck by lightening. Barry goes into a coma and wakes up nine months later in S.T.A.R. Labs with superpowers and super-abs. Count me in!
The Flash is why people come to the show, but they will stay for the supporting characters. There was not a single character that I felt was: out of place, over-acting or ridiculous in nature – and for a CW show, that says a lot. Arrow has fallen victim to the patented “Laurel gaping stare” far too many times to count, yet the swooning love interest here, Iris West, is a strong and rational character that makes decisions based on merit, and she is not a damsel in distress. Meanwhile, the S.T.A.R. Labs assistants, Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow, add both comedic relief and a staunch sense of tragedy – and Harrison Wells (played by Tom Cavanagh, or as I called him throughout the episode, “J.D.’s brother in Scrubs“) adds a bit of flavor to the show as well. Everything seems amazing at first, but there are stones left unturned, sideways glances between the S.T.A.R. Labs guys, and thanks to an insane reveal at the end, a lot of withheld information.
As it turns out, the storm caused by the particle accelerators explosion gave not only Barry Allen his powers, but what turns out to be scores of unknowns, as well. Among them is Clyde Mardon, known in the comics books as the deceased brother of the Weather Wizard. We can still tell, by the reaction of the news station and Detective West, that “meta-humans” are not of mainstream knowledge yet, so it will be interesting to see how the rest of The Flash’s rogues gallery pans out. Mardon is a great villain, who is callous in action and has a piercing hate stare that was convincingly frightening.
Cinematically, The Flash owns up to the source material and then some. Barry is not just a forensics assistant, but a damn good one. Thanks to some sweet effects, we are able to see inside the cogs turning inside the mind of a forensics scientist – C.S.I, eat my shorts. There are also some great Jesse Pinkman “Yeah! Science!” moments of the episode that assure me that I did not spend $80k on an engineering degree for nothing. Speaking of Breaking Bad, it seems that the idea of adding a filter to flashbacks has been adopted for The Flash, as well; as far as we are concerned, any show whose cinematography is inspired from the greatest show in history is alright in my book. From the slow-motion effects to the camera angle when Mardon robs the bank, it’s evident early on that CW is willing to put their money where their mouth is about making this show work.
The show borrows elements from its predecessors without feeling like a carbon copy; it actually helps connect the viewers to a show that they are already familiar with. For example, Iris’ position in the coffee shop is warmly nostalgic of Lana Lang’s job in Smallville. And Cisco’s extremely nerdy yet adorable demeanor (check out his awesome collection of t-shirts. Bazinga!) make you think he and Felicity from Arrow would make the cutest couple ever. Going back to the Spider-Man comparisons, there’s even a bit of a Captain Stacy thing going on with Detective West (doom ahead for West?). As much as the show combines different elements, it stands alone as a show about The Flash. Barry Allen is charming and funny, and the story is as true to the spirit of the character as I’ve seen on any television show so far. Now, that could have a lot to do with the fact that DC Comics legend Geoff Johns is credited as the series co-creator and executive producer. Johns has written some classic Flash material, and has been a contributor to almost a decade of DC/WB television. With him at the helm, there is absolutely no reason to worry about substance in the story going forward.
Hush Comics gives The Flash pilot, “City of Heroes” an A for its refreshing and accurate portrayal of one of the funnest characters in the DC Universe. While it was packed with little secrets for DC fanboys, it only slightly pulls back the curtain on the world of the man who is saving people in a flash. The pilot gives us plenty to look forward to in Season 1, and even though The Flash has one of the weaker rogues gallery in the DCU, we are looking forward to him and his band of merry misfits to thwart any danger that comes their way.
Easter Egg Hunt
Where is CSI?: You may recognize Jesse Martin, who plays Detective Joe West on The Flash, as Detective Ed Green from Law & Order. Martin played Green for almost ten years before leaving to tour with RENT as Tom Collins.
Grodd dammit!: While touring the remains of the S.T.A.R. Labs facility, Harrison Wells and Barry Allen pass a cage that has been broken open from the inside with the label “Grodd,” presumed to belong to Gorilla Grodd, a savage ape with far-superior intellect. That could probably come back to haunt them.
Who is the real Weather Wizard?: In the comic books, Clyde Mardon was a scientist that had discovered a way to control the weather, only to suffer a “heart attack” in his home. His brother Mark, who had escaped from prison, “found” Clyde’s notes and decided to use them to become the Weather Wizard. In the show, Clyde, who has seen Allen’s face, was conveniently shot and killed by West at the end of the episode. I’m predicting that Clyde could not have been the only Weather Wizard, who is a prominent villain of Flash’s. Who was flying the plane that Clyde escaped in? I wouldn’t be surprised if it was his brother, Mark.
Ferris Air: Green Lantern Hal Jordan got his not-so-humble beginnings as an ace pilot for Ferris Air. The appearance of this could mean that the Emerald Guardian is due to make an appearance on the show sooner or later. Allen and Jordan have always shared a great relationship (as have Jordan and Green Arrow, Oliver Queen), but I’m willing to bet that this was more of a shout-out to Geoff Johns, whose tenure on Green Lantern made him one of DC’s most popular heroes.
DC’s Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon: Oh yeah, that exists. Google that shit. DC is somewhat obsessed with the number 52. Listen and watch carefully, because this episode is littered with references to the magic number 52.
The Thawne Song: Thawne-Th-Thawne-Thawne-Thawne: Perhaps one of The Flash’s most formidable foes, Eobard Thawne is a time-traveling anti-Flash. There’s a big secret about him that you can find out by reading Flashpoint (one of my favorite graphic novels!), but just know that his guy is bad news. It would seem that his TV alter ego is Eddie Thawne, who has managed to steal Iris away from Barry, reads Barry’s blog on the regular and manages to know everything about Barry as it happens. There’s gotta be something to this “new guy” than meets the eyes.
Trying to resist the Impulse for puns… and failing: Before letting Allen test his full speed, he straps on two lightning-studded earpieces to his helmet to help resist sonic booms, or “battlefield impulse noise.” Kid Flash, Barry’s grandson from the future, has also gone by the name Impulse.
Don’t piss off the help: Allen’s companions at S.T.A.R. Labs correlate to fellow “meta-humans” in the DCU. In the comics, Cisco Ramon is Vibe, part-time breakdancer and full-time ass-kicker with the ability to emit shock waves. And Caitlin Snow is Killer Frost (there have been several Killer Frosts, but Snow is the most recent one), a not so nice villain that absorbs heat and spits it back out as cold. Caitlin already looks to be on the path to permanent piseed-offedness, so we might see her turn even more of a cold shoulder to S.T.A.R. Labs.
Just where is Starling City?: Luckily for us, almost every damn state in the country has a Central City. In the comics, it is referred to being in the middle of the country, from Ohio to Chicago to Missouri. However, when Allen takes a trip to Starling City in the show, Arrow says that it is just 600 miles away (lol “only”). We have previously thought Starling to be a West coast city (San Fran, Seattle) or an East coast city (Connecticut, Massachutesetts), but from this reference it looks like the most fitting location for Starling City must be something like Minneapolis. As many times as I’ve traveled there in the books, I realize that I have no idea where I’m going.
Legacy: The man that plays Henyr Allen, Barry’s father, was the star of the 1990’s Flash series. John Wesley Shipp does a great job here, which we can only assume was due to 25 years of practice.
Heroes raining from the sky: It looks as though the particle accelerator’s failure caused meta-humans to pop up left and right across the city, and that is the logical approach they will take to explain all these super-heroes and villains to emerge. It is an approach that reminds me of how the video-game DC Universe Online was explained, where nanobots were dropped around the world that gave people random powers all over the globe to help combat Brainiac’s invasion.
The “FUTURE”: Oh man, wasn’t that knowledge bomb at the end just spectacular? Just who the heck is this Harrison Wells guy and what horror does the future (spooky voice) hold? There are a few theories floating around, and thanks to the inclusion of time travel, the possibilities are endless:
Theory 1: Either Eddie Thawne is a smoke screen and Wells (who is not a real character on his own) is the real Reverse Flash, or Wells is related to Reverse Flash somehow. In the books, Eobard’s son, Thaddeus, becomes the villain Inertia. This is unlikely in the show since Wells looks considerably too old to be Eddie’s son, but with time travel, there are no rules.
Theory 2: Another DC magic word, “CRISIS,” insinuates that there will be some event relating to the book Crisis on Infinite Earths, where Barry Allen sacrifices himself to save the universe. As epic as this would be to see on TV, I feel that DC would want to avoid something as spoilerific as that.
My theory: Perhaps… Harrison Wells IS Barry Allen. The headline reads that The Flash has disappeared; this could be a literal translation, implying that he has traveled back in time. His insistence on testing Barry’s reaction early on in the goal of “unlocking mysteries,” his attempts to keep Barry from crime-fighting and his eventual encouragement suggests a personal investment in Barry; his hopeful glances at the paper ten years from now to see if circumstances have change further reinforce the theory that he is a good guy, contrary to the eerie music playing.
Source Material: Justice League Volume 1: Origin (2011)
Original Creative Team: Geoff Johns (writer), Jim Lee (pencils), Alex Sinclair (color) & Scott Williams (inker)
Movie Creative Team: Directed by Jay Oliva (animated The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Under the Red Hood, much more)
DC Animated is back with the first movie based in the New 52 continuity, Justice League: War. Originally named after the first volume story arc, Origin, in the Justice League comics, War follows the core Leaguers in their first encounter with one another. This was a very interesting story to read the first time, as the characters that have decades of lineage are now relatively complete strangers. So, while you’re getting a brand new story, you’re also getting the first story in the New 52 canon.
Let’s discuss the story first; War feels like a 40-yard dash from the get go. Gotham PD is chasing after Batman while Green Lantern tries to intervene as they give chase to an alien invader. One thing leads to another as a snowball of character introductions round out the first half of the story, including the birth of Cyborg. As the heroes, who constantly test each other, making snide jokes along the way, they manage to put enough teamwork together to take on Darkseid and (SPOILER, not really) come away with a W. It’s a pretty basic story that is really brought to life by the art and writing of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, respectively.
That being said,the same magic that made the book so great is heavily diluted in the movie. I feel that the absence of Jim Lee’s art in favor of a more anime-style animation was a poor choice. Perhaps it’s to compete with all the Marvel anime coming out, or if it’s just easier to animate, but the rugged style that suited Flashpoint Paradox just seems unfit for the fantastic chemistry of an All-Star creative team in the first book of a relaunched, flagship series. Aside from being aesthetically displeasing, the voice-acting is a mixed bag. Alan Tudyk is a fitting Superman and I can’t imagine anybody but Shemar Moore voicing Cyborg after seeing the movie, but a lot of the other cast members can be grating at times (Hal Jordan especially), and it left me thankful that they all had to share screen-time.
As far as continuity goes, Jay Oliva did a good job of adapting the book to the movie. The little things are still there: Wonder Woman’s declaration of her love of ice cream, Green Lantern’s detailed constructs and Darkseid’s dominance all translate very well to the small screen. However, there is a key member missing from the Justice League. They completely left Aquaman out, which is actually a bummer (seriously! Not being sarcastic here!) because he had one of the most epic entrances of the book. Instead, Aquaman is replaced with Shazam. This upset me at first, as none of the Shazam! origin story builds in the show, but the way they spin the story is original and heart-felt.
Overall, Justice League: War offers a fun, fresh take on the DC Universe in the New 52 continuity. It doesn’t manage to carry over the amazing chemistry of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, but it’s still entertaining enough to do the story some justice. Aquaman always seems to get the short end of the fish stick, and I feel that it hinders the story, even though there is a cray reveal at the ending credits hinting towards a Throne of Atlantis movie in the making. This film is definitely worth picking up for any fan of the DC Animated films, but I would definitely point any new reader towards the comic books before checking out the film.
Solid main story is highlighted by several contributing individual stories.
Hit or miss cast had great high’s, while the low points were masked by an ensemble cast.
Representation of Source Material
Swapping Aquaman for Shazam seemed like a cop out more than a twist, and discarding Jim Lee’s style hurt the overall presentation.
Big fan of the rugged anime-style character models, but didn’t fit mainstream origin story. Green Lantern constructs kicked ass.
Sound Effects and Music
Fitting music that drives the action and accentuates the characters.
Action is not a commodity in short supply, as even Flash has trouble keeping up.
War was a grand-scale origin story, with plenty of explosions and jokes to be worthy of the description.
I like how Shazam! was introduced and placed into Victor’s life, as well as the improvisation with John’s lengthier panels.
With so much going on, it’s easy to miss the little things the first go around, making each subsequent viewing more enjoyable.
Jim Lee means automatic ten at Hush Comics. The DVD is loaded with interviews and featurettes of the DC Co-Publisher.
IF YOU LIKED THIS, CHECK THESE OUT:
Justice League: The New Frontier is a film with a similar premise, but a much more light-hearted vibe than War.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is a similarly-animated gem based on a Geoff John’s storyline.
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse will fulfill our your Darkseid needs as the World’s Finest take on the New God.
NEXT FOR DC ANIMATED:
After making three movies in a row (War, Flashpoint Paradox and Superman: Unbound) based off the writing of Geoff Johns, the next animated film will be based off Grant Morrison’s 2006 graphic novel, Batman and Son. Titled Son of Batman, this film will explore the introduction of Damian Wayne into the DC Universe. Batman’s on-again/off-again relationship with Talia Al-Ghul catches up with Batman in Maury-sized proportions. As he tries to reign in little Damian, Batman battles the League of Assassins and Deathstroke, he struggles to keep Damian and Talia alive. I’m thoroughly excited to see an animated Damian Wayne in a Bat-suit. Son of Batman drops May 6th.
Artist(s): Jim Lee (X-Men, Superman: Unchained, WildC.A.T.S.), Scott Williams & Alex Sinclair (inker and colorist, respectively, that work with Lee)
SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):
Storyline – 10
Art – 10
Captivity and Length – 10
Identity – 10
Use of Medium – 9
Depth – 10
Fluidity – 8
Intrigue/Originality – 10
The Little Things – 9
Overall awesomeness – 10
DISCLAIMER: I will start this by saying that Batman: Hush is hands-down my favorite graphic novel ever. It’s the second graphic novel I ever read and, ultimately, what inspired me to delve deeply into the world of comics. I have two tattoos dedicated to what this book means to me and it’s part of the inspiration behind our name, Hush Comics. That being said, I will try not to blow too much smoke up your butts, because if you haven’t read it for yourself, I don’t want to ruin the experience.
Batman: Hush uses the entire spectrum of the Batverse to tell a sophisticated story about the emergence of a new cerebral villain into the Rogues Gallery and explores the quasi-romantic relationship between Batman and Catwoman. Hushalso marks the return of one of Bruce Wayne’s wards, whose previous death marked his greatest failure as the Batman. It spans the length of twelve issues to tell its story, twice as long as traditional six-issue story arcs; with a plot as involved as this one, this allows Loeb space to create a non-formulaic, dynamic graphic novel. This is also a book that both seasoned comic nerds and people new to comics can be receptive to. Hush does a great job of not making you feel like an idiot because every scene portrays the adequate background information to understand what is going on – something that is the exception more than the rule in comics nowadays.
I always feel that writers of Batman books have an automatic leg up because the Batman of the last twenty years always has the answers, always knows what to do, and the writer usually coasts on it. Jeph Loeb takes the task one step further and helps you identify with the man behind the mask. You realize that Batman has been through a lot of trauma and stress, and although he’s the most badass superhero on the planet on the outside, he still struggles with the same things we do: who to love, who to trust, etc. This vulnerability is accomplished by a steady flow of personal monologue that narrates each panel with Bruce’s (sorry, spoiler?) inner thoughts. Each character, and there are a lot of them, has a distinct voice and personality. Long-time fans will also take note that the cast is scripted quite well. Nothing seems out of place or character in the writing and there is enough suspense to keep the reader from knowing what will happen next. The new villain is cunning and knows just where to hit Batman to make it hurt. This type of strategical villain with a large cast hasn’t been portrayed this well since Bane in Batman: Knightfall.
The artwork from the legendary Jim Lee is what really won me over here. Jim Lee, now co-publisher of DC Comics, constructs vividly detailed panels that range from small transitional fight scenes to full-page beauties like the one below (Kissing the Knight). Lee’s team, Alex Sinclair, color, and Scott Williams, ink, add to the already beautiful pencilwork. The team switches up colors and even mediums throughout the book when it suits the mood, helping the reader transition between scenes. All of Lee’s drawings are crisp and have an edgy yet realistic appearance. With so much detail spent on each panel, Jim Lee and his team guide the reader through a completely immersive environment.
Batman: Hush can be viewed as a stand-alone story, but fits in the old Batman continuity pretty nicely. Since launching The New 52 in 2011, DC has pretty much abandoned any continuation of the Batman-Catwoman romance (except for two awful smut-filled issues of The New 52 Catwoman) and there hasn’t been an appearance of Hush in any titles yet. Don’t let this discourage you from reading though, as there is tons of dialogue and events that coincide with other milestones in past Batman publications. There are a few different books written with Hush as the main villain, most notably Hush Returns and Heart of Hush, but these do not boast the big time writers or artists that this book does, and the story feels a little forced in the romance department, but it’s still a decent read. Overall I’d say that while it reads best as a stand-alone story, there are enough bat-nuances to make you want to get deeper into the Batman lore.
General Reception: You will find Batman: Hush on DC Entertainment’s Essential Graphic Novels list and it’s for good reason. An all-encompassing story that spans all of your favorite Batman villains, sidekicks and introduces enough new elements to tell a tale that both seasoned veterans and comic book rookies can all the same. The characters’ dialogue and actions seem familiar without giving away any of the plot twists throughout the book. There are a ton of different transitions in Hush, giving each scene a distinct ambiance by Jim Lee and his brilliant art team.
Related Books: Hush Returns, Heart of Hush, Faces of Evil/Hush Money and Batman Beyond: Hush Beyond (kinda).Hush also makes appearances in videogames LEGO Batman 2 and Arkham City. Batman: Hush has recently been repackaged in Batman: Hush Unwrapped, featuring the sketch-work of Jim Lee. I wouldn’t recommend buying this version first, but if you read Hush the first time through and fall in love with Jim Lee’s art like I did, it’s a sensible purchase. Published in 2011, Absolute Batman: Hush is a completely over-sized version of the original with all its glory. It’s loaded with extras but it’s pretty pricey, so I wouldn’t recommend this unless you are a big-time collector or really love the story.
More by the writer: In terms of Batman books, Loeb has written acclaimed mystery crime graphic novels Batman: The Long Halloweenand its sequel, Batman: Dark Victory. Loeb has also written Marvel books in the color-themed Daredevil: Yellow, Spiderman: Blue, Hulk: Greyand Captain America: White. He’s also worked on Superman/Batman, Hulk and Cable series.
More by the artist: If you’re looking for more recent Jim Lee work, look to the first two New 52 Justice League story arc and the ongoing Superman: Unchained. His most distinguished works are X-Men: Mutant Genesis, Alpha Flight and WildC.A.T.S., the latter being a series that he created when he left Marvel to help create Image Comics with the likes of Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, and others.