Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artists: Jim Lee (p), Scott Williams (i)
Well it seems that thousands of people have been buying the regular series already, such that DC have recognised a good thing when they see it and rush-released a slim hardback collection of the first five issues in the Hush storyline, along with a previously-unpublished and unnecessary two-page "origin" for Bats. It would be easy and cynical to accuse DC of cashing in...but let's face it, that's exactly what they are doing with this book. $20.
The story then. Bats rescues a young kidnapped boy from the clutches of Killer Croc, but fails to recover the ransom money thanks to the interference of Catwoman. Both Croc and Cats appear to be under the influence of Poison Ivy, who has been employed by a mysterious, bandaged third-party who likes quoting poetry and acting all mysterious on the tops of buildings whilst watching Batman. Bats attempts to follow Catwoman, but is caught napping and falls to his near-death - saved by the efforts of genius surgeon Thomas Elliot, a very old school friend...who then proceeds to drop mysterious hints that he knows Bruce is Bats. One quick visit to Metropolis later reveals that Clark Kent has told Lois Lane that Bruce=Bats, and Bats realises that not only does Perry White realise that Clark=Supes but that Jim Gordon must know Bruce=Bats. Presumably, this also means that simple deduction would lead the pair of them to conclude the other relationship too. Gee, Bruce's secret identity is pretty much common knowledge nowadays, innit?
So much for the story. Not very gripping, really, Bats is supposed to be the world's greatest detective but acts remarkably stupid at times - this is the man with a dozen contingency plans for every situation and yet is seriously floored by someone cutting his batline? In ten years he's had this happen loads of times, has he really never setup any safeguards for it happening? The stuff concerning Bruce kissing Catwoman and acting all funny about it reads terribly badly, and the secret id stuff will all be forgotten in five minutes so I didn't let that get to me. However, the good points are the cracking dialogue, the lack of needless exposition, som really cute ideas (the bat-suit's self-defence mechanisms when Bats is unconscious, for example) and the fast-moving pacing and action - crap plot, good dialogue.
And so to the art. It's Jim Lee. It's gritted teeth on all the men. It's huge breasts on all the women. It's impossible anatomy on everyone. And yet, if you like that sort of thing, you'll love it. It hits all the marks, touches all the bases it needs too - after all, it's Jim Lee, it's Batman, wtf more do you need? It moves quickly, there's lots going on and lots of eye-candy.
If you want a fast-moving, all-action thriller, with witty dialogue and big, widescreen spills, this is the book for you. It's just not Batman, that's all.
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