Batman #608 (2002)



Batman #608 (December, 2002)
“Hush, Chapter One: The Ransom”
Writer – Jeph Loeb
Pencils – Jim Lee
Inks – Scott Williams
Colors – Alex Sinclair
Assistant Editor – Morgan Dontanville
Editor – Bob Schreck
Special Thanks – Mark Chiarello
Cover Price: $2.25


I’ve been meaning to revisit Hush for awhile now… for whatever reason, it’s always an arc I wind up forgetting about.  It’s actually one of those arcs I haven’t given a second look to since it originally hit the shelves.


I remember the reaction being… sorta polarized, but nothing extreme.  I saw folks write the whole thing off as a series of fight scenes… which, I mean… there’s something to that.  I recall that I just received it as a fun bombastic romp through Batman’s rogue’s gallery… with some purty nice art.


After a few years of that Chip Kidd trade-dress era… Batman definitely needed a shot in the arm (creatively and saleswise), and I think this story achieved that.  This was one of those books people had a hard time tracking down.  I nabbed it right away, but I remember a lot of curious folks having to visit multiple shops to get their copy.


Let’s see how this one held up!






We open at the Gotham City Shipyard.  Batman has deduced that he’s got 73 seconds to get in and out for a clean retrieval.  Retrieval of what?  We’ll get there.  Past the locks, there are several armed men watching the perimeter.  Batman tactically takes ’em all out.



Finally after working his way through the squad of goons, Batman comes across a port door… which he blows off it’s hinges.  When the dust clears, we can see he’d gone in to rescue a young boy.



The terrified boy takes his hand, and they bat-line out of the area.  Unfortunately, it looks like Batman misoverestimated his timeframe, 73 seconds wasn’t quite long enough… because as they make their escape, they run smack dab into… Killer Croc!  It’s just as well, really… Croc is carrying a suitcase Batman very much might want.



Batman and Croc spend the next several pages brawling… during which, that briefcase gets nyoinked away.  In realizing he will not be able to overpower the beast, Batman pops a hypersonic beepy-thing on Croc’s neck… and let’s that put him out of commission for awhile.



With Croc all grogged out, Batman ties him to a beam… and the young boy ain’t scared no mo’.  Then, the F.B.I. shows up to ream Batman out about his methods.  Sure, they’re happy he retrieved the child (who is, by the way, Edward Lamont IV, heir to the Lamont Chemical fortune)… but, wattabout the briefcase full’a money?!



Well, Batman has a few ideas where that briefcase might’ve gone… and within minutes he’s hot on Catwoman’s… tail.  She has the money, naturally… and they flirtatiously chase one another for a few pages.



Until… someone cuts the bat-line!



Batman falls all the way to the ground, only once breaking his fall with a stone gargoyle… which also breaks, sending him KRASHing into a gang-filled alley.  They don’t look all that happy to see him.  On the other hand, they might be really happy to see him!



Catwoman reaches her destination… and we learn that she stole the briefcase under the control and orders of… Poison Ivy!






Not much to it, is there?  A few simple scenes… a fun fight… dynamic action, awesome art… but, really… not much yet to sink our teeth into.  I mean, “Chapter One” is part of the title, and I guess it lives up to that!


I’m trying to recall whether or not we knew what “Hush” was at this point.  Did we know that Hush was going to wind up being a person?  Oh, by the way… Hush winds up being a person.  I guess this is as good an opportunity as any to finally make use of some of my ephemera… and justify why I have several hundred pounds worth of Diamond Previews catalogs upstairs!  Worth noting that Hush was a big enough deal to get a cover… two actually (we’ll get there).


If we look at Previews Vol. XII #8 (August, 2002)…



We can take a look at the original solicitation…



No mention of whether or not “Hush” is a new character.  Buuut, that might just be because DC Comics wanted to break that news the following month in Wizard!  The solicit above actually makes reference to a “Wizard: The Comics Magazine preview”



And so, if we were to take a peek at Wizard: The Comics Magazine #134 (November, 2002) we’d actually get a look at the mummy-wrapped baddie.

 



So… I suppose it’s possible that as of the release of Batman #608… we might not have known that Hush was going to wind up actually being a new character.  I’m just trying to figure out whether or not Batman’s batline being severed was a “whodunnit” when this first came out.  I think I’d probably just assume it was a Poison Ivy thug at this point, and leave it at that.


Overall… this is a breezy read, won’t take but a few minutes to get through.  On a positive note, DC Comics did not raise the cover price here!  It’s still $2.25… which is, prrrrretty unbelievable, ain’t it?  I’d figure they could’ve easily cranked this one up to at the very least $2.99… perhaps even $3.99, and gotten away with it.  Honestly, I’m surprised they didn’t try!  They actually keep the price at $2.25 for the entire Loeb/Lee run!


Could I recommend this?  As a single issue… probably.  As a collection… definitely (despite my recalling that it ends very predictably).  This is a fun one… and the art, as mentioned, is pretty amazing.  Naturally, it’s been collected a number of times… and is available digitally.





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