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From A Library: Hush Vol 1 & 2

Batman #608–612 and 613–619 by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee

My love of Jim Lee’s art overcomes the lack of enjoyment I get from stories written by Jeph Loeb (my apologies if I bore you with how much I don’t get the big deal with Loeb – I’ll stop doing it soon I promise). I will read pretty much anything if Lee’s drawn it; I just wish he’d work with a writer I like – such a shame that the Wildcats with Grant Morrison didn’t work out …

The thing about Loeb and Batman is he thinks that he has to do these BIG and IMPORTANT stories; after The Long Halloween (and Dark Victory, which I haven’t read because of how much I disliked The Long Halloween), he feels that everything to do with Batman has to be incorporated into the story, just to prove that it MEANS something. So, in this story, we have: Killer Croc, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Huntress, Superman, Lois Lane, Talia Ra’s, Krypto, Harley Quinn, Joker, Oracle (even a flashback to Batgirl), Nightwing, Jim Gordon, Two Face, Ra’s al Ghul, Lady Shiva, Scarecrow, Clayface, The Riddler, Tim Drake Robin, and even Jason Todd (sort of). That shows you how important this story is (although you have to feel sorry for the Penguin).

The best aspect of this is at least we get to see Lee drawing all these characters. Lee draws superheroes well, and he has a ball with all these heroes and villains. The opening scene does a nice POV as Batman attacks some well-trained thugs, and he keeps up the sharpness of the action throughout. His Batman is perhaps a little too muscular for my personal tastes – Batman has to be extremely athletic to do what he does but too much steroidal bulk and he wouldn’t be able to move – but everyone else looks exactly as they should, with the women sexy and the details correct. Even the different style he employs for the black and white flashbacks looks good, so I got my (library) money’s worth out of looking at the pretty pictures.

The difficulty in reading this is the portentous nature of everything, from the overly serious nature of the titles of the chapters (‘The Beast’, ‘The Friend’, ‘The Battle’, etc.), the heaviness of the narrative captions, the ‘bandaged man’ quoting bloody poetry all the time, the silliness of the childhood best friend of Bruce Wayne never mentioned before, the sub-plot about Batman and Catwoman kissing, but particularly the overly complicated plotting required to keep us guessing as to the villain of the piece, even throwing in a Jason Todd red herring. It’s just so tiring – and the explanation for who Hush is and how he came to be is exhausting, as well as fatuous. Loeb just seems a little full of his own self-importance, especially when it comes to the Batman. So, unless it’s an artist I really, really like, I shall not read any more books written by Jeph Loeb, and you can hold me to that, all right? I’ve learnt my lesson. Now, I’ll just go back and look at the pretty Jim Lee pictures before I return these books …

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