Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur
jducoeur

TRoOB

The Review of Obscure Books returns, discussing a book that isn't by any means obscure, but which sometimes gets talked about less, precisely because it's one of the big names. I'm speaking of Batman.

For the past year, Jeph Loeb has been crafting a fascinating little tale in the pages of Batman, by the title of "Hush". It's very much a superhero story, but very distinct in its tone and storyline.

I don't want to give away any major spoilers, so let's hit a few crucial points vaguely. This is the story in which Batman finally gets his worthy counterpart. Batman has traditionally been paired against the Joker -- intelligence vs. madness. In more recent years, his opposite number has been Ra's al Ghul -- fanatacism vs. principle, or something like that. What Batman has never had is the Moriarty to his Sherlock Holmes: the person with the brains and obsession to truly match him, in a pure contrast of good and evil. The result is intriguing, if sometimes a little overcomplex and intricate. Following this story for a year wasn't trivial; I suspect it will read better in the inevitable collection.

Along the way, a great deal changes. Old characters die; others learn a great deal about our hero. More than anything, he learns a great deal about himself, and what matters to him, and yet, in the end, we're left wondering whether he's really gotten the point or not. This is a story about Batman's relationships with the people he has been around since he put on his mask, both the good guys and the bad, and many of those relationships are altered at least a little along the way.

Overall grade for the story: B+. It's not quite high art, but it's probably the best Batman story I've read in the past ten years, with the nerve to give some arc to a character who has been around for 60+ years. I can only hope the editors have the guts to continue in the directions this story leads. In the meantime, I recommend it to anyone who has been a fan of the character, at any point in those long years: this story contains more changes than most decades of the book have had...
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