So, I finally picked up Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee's Batman: Hush
-- or, at least, the first five chapters in trade paperback form. And, after that whole yearlong frenzy over the way they had revitalized Batman, and what a ripping good story, and blah de blah, I gotta say: this is what all the fuss was about?
I know, I can't judge fairly, having only read five of the twelve issues that make up the story -- but here I go anyway.
First of all, let me complain about the story being published in separate volumes in the first place. What a blatant money-grubbing scam. DC couldn't fit a measly 12 issues in one TPB? If they don't release the remaining seven issues in one book, if they actually plan on splitting this into three
volumes, I think I'll decide, to hell with DC, and to hell with this story.
I'm almost at "to hell with this story" as is. And people complain about Bendis
padding his stories! I mean, lots of characters do lots of things, but the actual amount of story that was advanced in this collection could've been easily condensed to one, maybe
two issues. But Jeph Loeb loves showboating, he loves building issues around a particular character on the cover, so that his anemic plots can be stretched out over a year. Been doing it since The Long Halloween
. His ongoing series, Superman/Batman
, is less gimmicky in that fashion, but even there, he loves his guest stars, and he loves taking his sweet time.
I think Loeb is vastly overrated as an author. He's better at generating attention with "events" than at the actual writing part of the job. His dialogue and his stories are often corny, awkward, heavy-handed, ridiculously flamboyant, repetitive, and humorless.
No, but tell us what you really think, Tom?
He does sucker me in with the events, though, I have to admit. Over in Batman/Superman
(which one is supposed to be billed first? Do they take turns every other issue?), I loved the return of Lex Luthor's green and purple power suit. I loved the return of Supergirl (at the beginning, before it started dragging). And, though I didn't buy the single issues, I couldn't wait for Hush
to be collected in a book (a softcover
book, screw that hardback nonsense) so I could see what all the buzz was about.
is it? The mysterious villain the whole story has been built around, Batman's bandage-faced nemesis, has so far committed the diabolical acts of... cutting Batman's bat-rope, and shooting out one of his bat-tires. Ooooh,
what a chilling menace he is!
Meanwhile, there's a bunch of nonsense about Killer Croc and Poison Ivy either knowingly or unknowingly working for "Hush" (that is
what they wind up calling the villain, isn't it? Because, in the five issues I've
read, he still
hasn't been named), and flashbacks built around Bruce Wayne's childhood friend Tommy Elliot that scream "red herring" so
obviously that I'm jarred out of the story each time ("Just try and kill me," says young Bruce to young Tommy; "I can always think like you," says young Tommy to young Bruce; "Lay it on a little thicker, why don't you," says I to Loeb). Plus, Batman punches Superman and makes out with Catwoman, which, frankly, is fan fiction-level wish fulfillment. "Dude, wouldn't it be sweet
if Batman used kryptonite to fight Superman?? Again???
And, like, he should totally
bone Catwoman, too!!! I am so
gonna post that on the forums tonight!!!"
Plus I hate the sound effects. Yes, that's right, I'm nitpicking at the sound effects. A writer writes all the sound effects in a comic, doesn't he? Look at some of the ones Loeb uses: DUSCHK, HAMD, BAX, SWAG ("SWAG"?), BDOK, BERKSCH, DUSSHK (maybe that's just a misspelling of "DUSCHK"), DTUSH. Those aren't sound effects, those are bad draws in Scrabble. I mean, "HAMD"? That's the sound of brass knuckles to Huntress' skull? "HAMD"?
has a sound effect. Batman's batarang has to go "ZIP" not once, not twice, but three times
around Croc's mouth. A knife cutting a newspaper has to go "SLIKT" (twice). A doctor opening the door to the O.R.: "BOOM". Me reading the 8,000th sound effect in three pages: "ARRGHH!!"
Other than that, though, it was okay.
Because there's the art. The art
. I'm not enough of a cynic about that whole Image crowd to deny that Jim Lee does some damn excellent artwork. (Almost, though -- my disdain for Todd McFarlane and Rob Liefeld runs pretty deep, tainting many of those around them as well.) That's a lot of lovely detail, and some great, inventive, visceral action scenes. And he sure do love drawing women's asses, don't he? Jim Lee is why I'll get the next volume of Hush
Let me remind you, by the way, that I don't know
how this storyline ends. I've intentionally avoided as much internet chat about it as possible, and despite the fact that I already found out there's some Jason Todd stuff coming up (that was nice and subtle, by the way, having bandage-face stand next to the first five letters of the sign on the "Robinson's" building in issue 3), and despite how much I've complained about the writing -- try to avoid spoilers if you comment. Thanks.
Labels: Bad Comics, Batman, Bendis, Comics, Hush, Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee, Superman