Friday, July 27, 2007

Hush Chapter One: The Ransom (DC comics)
Batman #608 When: December 2002
Why: Jeph Loeb How: Jim Lee

The story so far...
Someone has gone to a lot of trouble in Gotham City to assemble a motley crew of mercenaries and muscle in order to kidnap Edward Lamont IV, boy billionaire in waiting for the Lamont chemical fortune.

The Batman is swift in retrieving the boy who was snatched two weeks prior from his school, by a man wearing a trenchcoat. Unfortunately for him, the large man was a newly mutated Killer Croc.

With a paid ransom of ten million dollars, Killer Croc challenges the Batman's interference with the conviction of a motivated man. Killer Croc claims he needs the money, but in this city of stone and steel, it's greatest champion is unsympathetic to the wants of a career criminal. Thus, they come to blows, but little does the Batman know, each is but a pawn in a game much larger...

Previous Form:
Batman (#2): Has toppled foes such as; Hyena, Two-Face, Amazo, The Joker & Superman.
Killer Croc (#172): Suffered a harsh defeat to Batman.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Killer Croc 5 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: Batman 5 (Professor)
Speed: Batman 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Batman 5 (Marathon Man)
Agility: Batman 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Batman 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Powers: Batman 4 (Arsenal)

This one's a rematch [Batman #621], so there really isn't a great deal to run down as far as predicting who should/shouldn't, will/won't win based on the standardized measurements provided by the tape. Plugging them into the patented Haseloff Tape Measure will only garner the same scientific results.

However, in the interest of streamlining, the statistics entered do not take into account the variables presented by time and space. A very different Killer Croc faces the Batman this time around, more monster than man, as opposed to the thuggish misfit that was featured in Broken City.

This hulking, over developed Killer Croc represents a far more formiddable physical obstacle for the Batman. Sitting somewhere in the upper echelon of his burly foes, Batman likely has some portable methods of contingency for dealing with him. If nothing else, less specific devices comparable to that used by Jason Todd against Danny Brickwell [Green Arrow #70], or those employed by Batman himself in encounters with Amazo [Batman #637] and Captain Nazi [Batman #647], are likely on hand.

As mentioned in the intro, Killer Croc is fighting for something. His motivations are much more personal than a lot of his usual work, which gives him an added spark in combat, but ultimately, his record suggests Batman is ready and willing to put him down as hard as necessary. Unlike many of Batman's other foes, particularly in this state, Croc can take it.

The Math: Batman (Meta Class)
The Pick: Batman (Kicker of Ass)

What went down...
So, having taken out the mob of mercenaries, Batman drags the boy into the light of the city. He think about the superior reassurance Superman could offer, but the kid is probably less afraid of the man in the batsuit, and more concerned about the big green crocodile-man charging at them!

UPPERCUT!!!Croc makes good with a briefcase uppercut that knocks the Batman straight to backfoot city. The bulky Croc continues to press the assault, charging forward with a following shot with his free hand.

With Batman dazed and against a wall, Croc declares his intentions to eat his longtime foe, but instead gets a face full of pipe thanks to Batman's superior speed. Taking the path of least resistance, Batman rises from his crouch, striking Croc under the chin with a stiff headbutt, before following it with a devestating boot to the face!

Croc's concerns devolve into a feral bloodlust, letting the briefcase containing the ransom slip from his grasp, he instead seeks the innards of one Batman!

Croc slashes wildly at Batman, knocking him back once more.
Batman is again able to return through superior agility, leaping over his opponent while slappinga tiny device onto the base of Croc's skull.

Taking full advantage of a vulnerability to hypersonics, Batman sets off his device, disorientating his stronger more feral foe to the point where he runs headlong into industrial piping.

Using a nearby chain, Batman wraps Killer up and leaves him hanging from the pipe as the FBI descend on the scene. With the Beureau taking the boy into custody, Batman takes off in pursuit of a heat signature carrying a briefcase.

The hammer...
Rrrring the bell! Round two goes to Batman once more!

For those of you salivating curiously over who stole the money, it was of course none other than Catwoman! Like you didn't guess it already. While in pursuit of Catwoman, Batman's batline is sabotaged and he plummets to certain doom, so begins the storyline that is Hush.

Croc gets hung out to dry, a second time.After talking at length about the scenario that was presented during the release of Azarrello and Risso's Broken City, it seemed fitting to take a look back at the story that effectively sealed it's fate. Not that I'm going to fault Hush for being a successful, top ten performer on the sales charts. Suffice to say, I think it's a shame that Broken City struggled under the weight of it's predecessor, but have been pleased to see a lot of people go back and give Broken City a go.

Hush, despite it's success, was ultimately met with a pretty surly critical response. What had begun as an exciting year-long mystery through the Batman mythos, ended as a sudden conclusion that delivered little surprise to most reading it. It served up the excessively obvious culprit, in cahoots with the obscurely unlikely, and eventually through the addition of others, the downright absurd.

Having reinvigorated Jim Lee as a regular comics penciller, it seemed Hush was only going to lead to bigger and better things. Early-on Loeb and others recounted in interviews the intent to follow the story up with a six parter at a later date, but what eventually unfolded may have only served to further garble what was, for many, an disatisfying end to the year's biggest mystery.

Hush soon resurfaced in the pages of Gotham Knights, weaving his way through a much less intentful story, coming to further blows with Batman, and new enemies too, like Poison Ivy and Green Arrow. Hush would ultimately overstay his welcome, slipping into relative obscurity after a busy couple of years.

What would really shock was the pursuit of Jason Todd, one of the small handful of deceased characters considered untouchable. What had originally been a psychological attack on Batman, because the means for resurrecting Jason Todd for a career as the Red Hood: vigilante with attitude. The answer for his timely resurrection? The apparent influence of an enraged Superboy from Earth-Prime, who had pounded so hard on the confines of his non-space home, he had shaken the very fabric of reality, thus undoing Todd's death while he lay buried.

We'll probably get a chance to talk more about the specifics of the Hush story and character as we featured more issues from the arc. For what it was, I enjoyed the overall presentation, and the excitement that really spurred me to return to Batman after years of ridiculously neglecting most DC properties.

Meanwhile, if I can break into a tangent, you may have noticed that to the right there's a new addition at the top of the menu. Yes, the first issue of a comic written by yours truly has finally hit the virtual shelf, and is available for purchase! I hope there are a lot of things to come for me in comics, and hope all you Secret Wars readers can come along for the ride.

If you haven't already, hit-up Nite Lite Theatre, and follow the links to find a brief teaser preview that gives very little away, and consider picking it up. It's ridiculously affordable for a small press book. Cheers!

The Fight: 4 The Issue: 5.5
[As a first issue, the action is thick, but the plot is well established. None of this neo-fascist three-issue meandering to build up the players!]

No comments: