Cover of a collected edition of Batman: Hush by Jim Lee
|Publication date||December 2002 – September 2003|
|Volume 1||ISBN 1-4012-0060-5|
|Volume 2||ISBN 1401200923|
|Complete edition||ISBN 1401223176|
|Deluxe hardcover||ISBN 1401229921|
|Absolute edition||ISBN 1401204260|
Hush is a 2002–2003 DC Comics comic book story arc that ran through the Batman monthly series. It was written by Jeph Loeb, penciled by Jim Lee, inked by Scott Williams and colored by Alex Sinclair. The story depicts a mysterious stalker called Hush, who seems intent on sabotaging Batman from afar, and it includes a large number of guest appearances by Batman villains, as well as various members of the Batman Family and Batman's close ally Superman. It also explores the romantic potential between Batman and Catwoman.
Batman is rescuing a boy kidnapped by Killer Croc, whereupon Catwoman steals the ransom money. As Batman swings through Gotham City in pursuit of her, his rope is cut and he falls to the ground, fracturing his skull. He is nearly killed by a group of criminals before he is saved by Huntress. His butler, Alfred Pennyworth, follows his instructions to summon his childhood friend, Thomas Elliot, who is now a renowned brain surgeon. Dr. Elliot removes the skull fragments from Bruce's brain. Batman recovers, and discovers that Poison Ivy used Catwoman to steal the ransom, and took it from her. Catwoman is furious that Ivy used mind-control powers on her. Batman rescues Catwoman, and a tenuous romance blooms between them. He eventually decides to trust Catwoman and reveals his identity to her. Batman deliberately allows Killer Croc to escape from Arkham, so he can track him. Croc leads Batman to one of Poison Ivy's abandoned greenhouses. Before he can interrogate Killer Croc further, Croc is captured.
Batman and Catwoman track Poison Ivy to Metropolis. There they find Ivy has taken control of Superman, and she commands the Man of Steel to kill Batman. Batman observes that Superman is subconsciously resisting Ivy's influence, holding back in his attempts to kill the Caped Crusader. Using a variety of weapons, including flashbang grenades, hypersonics, electroshock, and a kryptonite ring that Superman entrusted to him, Batman stalls Superman while Catwoman lets Lois Lane fall from the Daily Planet building. Superman breaks free of Ivy's control to save Lois, and (with the help of Superman's dog) he and Batman capture Ivy.
Later, in Gotham City, Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle, Leslie Thompkins, and Dr. Elliot are attending the opera Pagliacci, when Harley Quinn tries to rob everyone in the theater. In the ensuing struggle, Dr. Elliot is apparently shot dead by the Joker. An enraged Batman attempts to beat the Joker to death, even rendering Catwoman unconscious to prevent her stopping him, but former police commissioner James Gordon appears, and dissuades him from doing so, superficially wounding Batman with a gunshot.
Dick Grayson returns to Gotham City for Elliot's funeral. Batman tells him of his suspicions that some mastermind is behind all his enemies behaving so out of character. Behind the scenes, a man with a bandaged face appears at all of the crime scenes, and seems to be orchestrating the plot. He comes to be referred to as Hush.
After foiling an armored car robbery by the Riddler, Nightwing and Batman discover evidence that Ra's al Ghul is also involved in what Batman has come to think of as a grand plot. Batman kidnaps Ra's' daughter Talia and leaves Catwoman to guard her while he seeks out Ra's, who tells Batman that someone from his past has used one of the Lazarus Pits. Catwoman is overpowered by Lady Shiva who has been sent to rescue Talia, but Talia knocks Shiva out and helps Catwoman recover from the attack, meeting Batman and telling him what happened. Returning to Gotham, Batman finds Catwoman being attacked by a delusional Huntress. Batman is able to have her knocked out, but then encounters the cause of the Huntress' attack, the Scarecrow, but he overpowers him in a graveyard. He discovers that the current Robin, Tim Drake, has been captured by the former second Robin, Jason Todd, who had previously perished during the events of Batman: A Death in the Family. While fighting Jason, it is apparent that Clayface is mimicking the identity of Jason.
Batman then finds a device planted in his computer, which lead him to seek his old friend (and trusted mechanic) Harold. He has a late-night meeting with Harold, who has been missing since the times of No Man's Land. Harold admits that someone had treated his disfigured condition in exchange for planting that device, but he is shot and killed by Hush before he can name the mastermind. Thomas Elliot is discovered to be the trigger-man, and the face behind the bandages of the mastermind (it is later implied that Clayface had been mimicking Elliot when he appeared to be killed). Elliot held a grudge against the Wayne family since Batman's father, Dr. Thomas Wayne, had saved the life of Elliot's mother after a motor vehicle accident; Elliot had sabotaged his parents' vehicle in order to gain their inheritance, and considered Bruce's father as the one who did not allow his plan to be completed. In the ensuing confrontation, Elliot is shot by the reborn Harvey Dent and plummets into the water, with Batman never having a chance to unmask him (it is only assumed it is Thomas Elliot). His body is unable to be recovered.
In an epilogue to his face-off with Elliot, Batman discovers that the true mastermind behind the conspiracy is the Riddler. He had used a Lazarus Pit to cure himself of cancer, and during his time in the pit, deduced Batman's identity as Bruce Wayne. Having first approached Thomas Elliot with a cure for his mother's cancer (the Lazarus Pit), the Riddler had instead allied with Elliot against Wayne. Riddler was also the only villain who Batman did not believe acted in an unusual way during the entire saga; the robbery Batman foiled was fairly typical of Riddler at the time. The Riddler also tells him that he and Elliot referred to the plot as the "Hush" plot. He further reveals that he knows Batman's identity as Wayne, but Batman is unfazed because a riddle which everyone knows the answer to would be worthless to Riddler, and he threatens to reveal to Ra's al Ghul that Riddler was the one who used his Lazarus Pit, who would then send the League of Assassins after him.
Another mystery begins troubling the Dark Knight. Even though the man he fought at the graveyard was revealed to be Clayface, Jason Todd's remains are still missing from his grave. The Riddler even taunts Batman of his greatest failure to save Jason's life, and refuses to tell him where Jason's body is, prompting Batman to knock out the Riddler.
In the final scene Batman and Catwoman meet. He continues to mistrust her and cannot be sure that she is not more aware of the plot than she admits. While trying to console him, Catwoman inadvertently tells him to "hush" seconds before trying to kiss him, provoking a fierce reaction from Batman that compels her to end the relationship. Before leaving, she says that she does not care if their relationship started out as a "spell". It works because of who they are, and someday he will learn to trust that. Batman also thinks that it may be possible "someday".
After the story's success, Lee and Loeb were slated to follow the story up with another six issues, but the project failed to materialize. Hush's story was continued by AJ Lieberman in the now discontinued Batman: Gotham Knights title.
The plot element involving Jason Todd was later retconned in other Batman storylines. In the Under the Hood arc, it was revealed that Batman was actually fighting the real Jason Todd in the graveyard, who later switched places with Clayface. Todd is now a murderous vigilante known as the Red Hood. It is also revealed that Batman had suspected that it was really Jason Todd he fought with and that Todd had been stalking him since then. This is evident during the arc storyline of As the Crow Flies, where it is shown that Jason's mask was found in the Batmobile. After Jason revealed himself to Batman and kidnapped the Joker, he does not only become a thorn to Batman and his allies in Gotham but also ends up clashing with the Teen Titans, Outsiders, and Green Arrow as well. At the same time the Dark Knight has desperately tried to reach Jason in an effort to atone for his past failures. Following Infinite Crisis, the Riddler spent a year in a coma and lost all memory of ever knowing that Batman was Bruce Wayne.
The Hush storyline was followed up in Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen's well-received storyline, Heart of Hush, where Hush returns to get revenge on Batman through Catwoman and surgically changed his appearance to match Bruce Wayne's in an attempt to steal his identity. The series was praised for adding backstory and depth to the character of Hush while returning him to a credible threat. An origin story for Hush is given in Detective Comics #846–847.
Hush was published in monthly installments as Batman #608–619 by DC Comics. The first issue of the story arc was a success ranking 1st in the Top 300 comics for the October 2002 period with pre-order sales of 113,061. It was later collected into two volumes as hardcover and softcover, and later in 2005 in an oversized Absolute Batman: Hush hardcover slipcase. DC Comics released the story arc in one volume in August 2009. A hardcover collected edition featuring Jim Lee's artwork entirely in pencil form, titled Batman: Hush Unwrapped Deluxe Edition, was released on February 22, 2011.
IGN Comics ranked Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 of Batman: Hush #10 on a list of the 25 greatest Batman graphic novels, saying that "there are some truly unforgettable moments" and "Jim Lee's artwork is unbelievable."
Craig Lemon from Comics Bulletin criticized the plot, arguing that too many people now know of Batman's secret identity, opining that the story was not very gripping, and that Batman was depicted as inept for not being prepared for a situation as basic as someone cutting his batline. Nonetheless, he praised the dialogue, the lack of unnecessary exposition, the pacing and action, and minor aspects like the self-defense mechanism of the batsuit. Regarding the artwork, Lemon stated that it was generally good, but complained that "it's gritted teeth on all the men. It's huge breasts on all the women. It's impossible anatomy on everyone", though conceding that some readers enjoyed this type of artwork.
The entire storyline has been collected in two volumes and later into one volume.
- Batman: Hush (320 pages, paperback, August 2009, ISBN 1-4012-2317-6; unwrapped deluxe hardcover, July 2011, ISBN 1-4012-2992-1; 372 pages, absolute edition hardcover, December 2011, ISBN 1-4012-0426-0)
- Wallace, Dan (2008). "Batman". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. London: Dorling Kindersley. pp. 40–44. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5.
- "Top 300 Comics--October 2002". icv2.com. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
- "A look at what’s in store for Spring 2011 collected editions". dcu.blog.dccomics.com. Retrieved 2010-09-18.
- Hilary Goldstein (June 13, 2005). "The 25 Greatest Batman Graphic Novels". IGN. News Corporation.
- Lemon, Craig. "Batman: Hush Review". Comics Bulletin. Retrieved 2008-03-21.