In the last week the world has been rocked by the release of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. No matter what you think of the film, I think it can generally be agreed that the concept of Batman and Superman facing off is one that ignites every geek’s imagination. However, Batman V Superman is not the first time the World’s Finest have gone head to head. Over the years, the duo has faced off more times to count but one of their most memorable bouts was a set piece in the now classic Batman odyssey of known only as Hush.
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When it comes to DC Comics there are two names you need to know. Jeff Loeb and Jim Lee. These men have a Midas touch when it comes to comic books. Loeb’s writing has led to a complete overhaul of several characters backstories, namely that of the Marvel character’s Spiderman and Hulk. Jim Lee has drawn every character from the DC universe with a skill that belies his years of experience. These men should garner the same respect as Mark Millar, Stan Lee, Grant Morrison and every other comic creating titan. Right now the DC universe is going through a ‘rebirth’ and that is directly down to Lee’s machinations, along with Geoff Johns. So how did these two gods of comics handle Batman? They pushed him to his limits.
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Batman Hush is a dark reflection storyline revolving around a plot to rock Bruce Wayne’s world by pitting him against a dark reflection of himself in the character of Hush. Before that fight however, Batman is softened up by a barrage of almost every one of his rogues gallery. Across the course of the story he deals with Catwoman, Killer Croc, Joker and Poison Ivy, to name just a few. In Bruce’s fight with Ivy, the femme fatale is able to infect Superman with Kryptonite covered spores which put him under the villain’s control. This leads to a classic Batman V Superman rumble which Batman is able to win through the use of a kryptonite ring entrusted to him by Clark. Needless to say the arc is a lot of fun.
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Looking back at the Diamond Comic sales figures for October 2002 all the way through to the end of the Hush arc it’s easy to see that the series performed well. Each individual issue in the arc is in the top five most sold issues for its month of release, with many issues selling over 100,000 issues, a fantastic number for the market at the time. The fan reception in general seems pretty positive as well, while the internet community wasn’t as well established at the time more recent articles have given the series a positive status. The comic and video game site IGN listed the arc in their ‘Top Batman Stories of All Time’ and it’s often discussed positively on forums websites such as Reddit. But with such a warm reception the book also attracted a strong critical response.
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Hush eventually received critical appraisals from several notable literary critics, most memorably Craig Lemon from Comic Bullitin who tore into the story. He complained that too many people now know Bruce’s secret identify and that Jim Lee’s designs for many characters were stereotypical and generic. These issues seemed to be echoed by other critics but they seem more like issues with the style of the industry at the time and less like problems with the series itself. It’s worth noting that the series has a 4.3/5 rating on Goodreads which is probably the most comprehensive measure of the book, collating over eight hundred reviews.
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In the later years the book would spawn several Batman story lines, including the evolution of Jason Todd into Red Hood and the establishment of Hush into the rolling mob of Batman villains. Loeb and lee both went on to create many memorable series, which we’ll hopefully get around to sooner rather than later. From every angle the series was a success and a master class in just what fans want from a Batman story. Next week we’ll be jumping into Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life and the insane world of Bryan Lee O’Malley!
…That was this week’s Comic History 101!!! Check back on Friday for a new Covert Coot article!!!