Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hush Chapter Twelve: The End (DC)
Batman #619 When: November 2003
Why: Jeph Loeb How: Jim Lee

The Story So Far...
When a dramatically mutated Killer Croc partakes in the kidnap of a rich man's child; Batman unwittingly enters into a game of manipulation design to break his will, and lead him down a path toward destruction.

Having suffered severe injuries after a fall from a batline, severed by an anonymously thrown batarang; Wayne recalls the name of renowned surgeon, and former childhood friend, Dr. Thomas Elliot. The doctor returns to Gotham to perform the surgery and reacquaint himself with the city and his former friend, but the trip is cut short when the Joker and Harley Quinn raid a stage show. After taking pursuit of the clown prince of crime in an effort to recover a family heirloom; Thomas Elliot is murdered -- or so it seems!

In reality, this is but another chapter in the tale of Hush, the newest villain to enter Batman's murderous rogues gallery! Vengeful over wrongs commited when they were children, Hush has manipulated the heroes and villains of Gotham City in an effort to play Batman for a fool, but even as the dark knight desperately tries to unravel the mystery, the bandaged villain prepares to play his final hand.

Tale of the Tape...
ARTWORK: Jim LeeARTWORK: Ed McGuinnessStrength: Batman 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Draw 5 (Professor)
Speed: Batman 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Batman 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Batman 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting Ability: Batman 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy Power: Batman 4 (Arsenal)

- Born into wealth; Thomas Elliot spent his childhood in loathing of his parents. In an effort to gain independence and control of his family's estate, the child orchestrated a murder plot to sever the brakes on his parent's vehicle, after convincing them to pardon their driver. The horrific accident that ensued would bring the socialittes under the knife of Dr. Thomas Wayne, father to Elliot's best friend, Bruce Wayne. The doctor would fail to save Tommy's father, but leave him a mother to care for.

As Hush; Elliot is soon revealed to be the manipulator whose influence had led Batman to call upon his services as a surgeon when he suffered head injuries from a fall, also part of Hush's plan. Having teamed with The Riddler and an adult Jason Todd; a spiteful Elliot fulfills a lifelong goal of revenge for the Waynes' part in his mother's survival, and the jealousy felt toward Bruce for living the life he wanted.

- After witnessing the street murder of his parents, the young Bruce Wayne's destiny was forever shaped to be one dedicated to an ideal. Having spent his formative years studying the various sciences, martial arts, and crime fighting techniques, Bruce is ultimately inspired to become the one-man war on the criminal element in Gotham City: Batman.

Perhaps Batman's greatest power is the millions inherited from his industrialist parents, and the various facilities that came with that. They prove crucial in the design and construction of his many weapons, which are typically non-lethal, and have a variety of uses.

Complimented by his keenly strategic mind is Batman's expertise in the martial arts. He is extensively trained in multiple fighting styles, and commonly regarded to be one of the greatest hand-to-hand fighters in the world. He is also extremely proficient in general urban warfare.

The Math: Batman Ranking: Batman (#2)

What Went Down...
Revealed to be the man responsible for planting subliminal messaging devices on his computer hardware, Batman's once malformed technical supporter, Harold, drops with two bullets in him. The gunman -- Hush -- a man who has helped orchestrate a string of horrific events and attacks in the life of the Batman.

Alone with the killer on a bridge in the pouring rain, Batman launches himself into action, avoiding further gunfire from his newest nemesis. Perched atop the bridge structure, he returns fire with a handful of batarangs, but like Hush's own ammunition, they fail to make a crucial hit.

Closing in, the dark knight jumps toward the gunman as he counts the final bullets in his round, and unleashes weapons of his own. Hands and feet, trained to kill, and so masterful they need never strike a lethal blow.

A boot and a fist don't stop the marksman, but they reveal the necklace Tommy Elliot was buried with; his mother's. The distraction gives Hush the opportunity to the turn the tables, while Batman continues to analyse every fine detail in an effort to deduce the bandaged man's identity.

Hush makes continued references to Tommy Elliot's childhood with Bruce; facts that plague the dark knight detective as much as the physical blows from the masked man. Hush denies him the opportunity to pull the bandages from his face, impaling Batman's hand with a blade.

Hush challenges Batman to puzzle the reason for their confrontation on the bridge in the rain. Resonance of the night Tommy Elliot's parents crashed their car is not lost on the Batman, but still he refuses to believe the taunting of a masked man, over the facts of his witness to Elliot's death at the hands of Joker.

The two engage in an exchange of acrobatics and fisticuffs, continuning to dance around the specifics of both man's true identity. Hush returns the favour for a punch to the face, and Batman strikes back with a chop to the neck, each blow bringing with it a little piece of the past.

With a kick, Hush puts some distance between he and the wounded Batman, only to reveal the true motivation for his endless machinations: The thwarting of his childhood dream to murder his parents to inherit independence and wealth!

The revelation rocks Batman almost as hard as the bullets that cause the Batmobile to explode behind him, triggering C-4 charges planted during Batman's brief reunion with Harold.

Revealed, the truth floods from Hush like the deluge hitting the bridge.
He compares the struggle of life with his mother, and her slow death to cancer, as tokens that Bruce Wayne was lucky enough not to have. In so many ways, he is revealed to be the anti-thesis to every aspect of the Batman, who now lies badly injured at the villain's feet.

A commanding voice echoes onto the bridge, and from out of the bellowing smoke steps former GCPD commissioner, James Gordon. Implicated in the staged murder of Thomas Elliot, Gordon is accompanied by a man intimately aware of the details of his innocence -- Harvey Dent.

Dent, having had his facial scarring repaired by Elliot as a part of his sinister plot, appears ironically cured of his alter-ego, Two-Face. With clarity and a zealous penchant for justice, he willfully turns his back on his agreement with Hush to take the shot, when Jim Gordon proves unable to fire with Batman at such close proximity.

He doesn't miss.
An appropriate two shots hit Hush in either shoulder, forcing him away from his would-be victim, and off the side of the bridge. Batman does his best to find a body, but even with nightvision technology, he proves unable to find anything in the murky Gotham waters below. Hush lives to strike another day.

The Hammer...
So, for striking the deciding blow, I've got no choice but to call it a victory for Harvey Dent! For fighting valiantly, despite very nearly suffering defeat, Batman picks up the assist, with Jim Gordon sharing in the honor. Valuable info for you Fantasy Fighters out there!

As you might have seen, the Infinite Wars is gearing up for all the hype surrounding the recently announced, Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe video game, set to be released in the fall. The unlikely crossover pits the fighting kombatants against DC's icons in a story featuring contributions from Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, as well as series co-creator, Ed Boon, and the rest of the MK team.

Since Batman is bound to be at the forefront of the DC movement, I wanted to throw a feature up here that at least touched on his capacity to exist in this environment. With the announcement of the game, it seems the two camps have quickly devolved into violent distain over the dimished degree of violence, and utter bemusement, for those comic fans disinterested in the gimmick-laden fighting property. It seems all perspective has gone out the window, so hopefully the Infinite Wars can become a middle ground for both groups.

If you haven't already seen them, you might like to check out the first of our weekly rundowns of potential match-ups between the two brands [Fantasy Fights: Round 1], as well as a C2C flashback to previous entries touching on some of the characters and action you might be seeing in the game.

With the benefit of hindsight, I can see it might have been better to go with a scenario more flattering to Batman, but then, I think the grim tone of the issue is probably good for MK fans to see.

Hush was a twelve-issue storyarc with a lot of momentum. Written by Jeph Loeb, the man behind stories vital to inspiring the movies; The Long Halloween and Dark Victory; it promised another year-long romp through Gotham City, with the introdution of a brand new villain, sure to menace Batman far into the future, should he survive that long!

Batman: Hush also brought superstar artist, Jim Lee, back to the drawing board, after taking an active interest in less involved responsibilities with Wildstorm Comics (bought-out and assimilated by DC comics, as it so happened).

Despite mixed reactions to the conclusion of the story, which effectively resolved the year-long mystery with a reveal described by many as anti-climactic and heavy handed, given the first-appearance introduction of Tommy Elliot (Hush) at the beginning of the story. So disappointing was this fact, it nearly dwarfed Elliot's partnership with the Riddler, and the shock implication of the dead Robin's resurrection; later confirmed under writer, Judd Winick.

Fans of the comics might be surprised to learn of scepticism from the Mortal Kombat fans for DC's ability to assimilate into their gothic world of interdimensional mayhem, infernal resurrections, and frivilous ninjary.
Much of this has been sparked by the announcement of a T rating, and the first time a Mortal Kombat game will be released without their trademarked finishing system of gory, over-the-top slayings -- fatalities.

MK's penchant for gore has earned the series it's fair share of infamy. Often viewed as little more than a distraction for a teen demographic overlooking the technical flaws of the series; I tend to think of fatal violence as an expendable trademark of the series. I'm much more interested in the characters and story of the MK universe, which are obviously arenas the DC universe is more than ready to match them in.

The balance of power has been another keenly debated topic.
I probably could've done better to showcase Batman's ability to battle foes far more powerful than he. On the Infinite Wars alone we've been routinely privvy to successful matches against the likes of; Gorilla Grodd, Dr. Light, Killer Croc, Superman, Amazo, Captain Nazi, killer robots, murderous cults, et al.

Likewise, confusion at the other end of the scale has caused a glitch in the suspension of disbelief. The unfortunately common misconception that Superman somehow dwarfs all other superheroes, and is therefore a terminally flawed character, is the result of a lot of supposition, and the phenomenon of internet chinese-whispers. A lot of unconfident and uncertain fans have latched onto this belief, but in reality, it simply isn't true. The Infinite Wars, a site dedicated to tracking heroic defeat and victory, rates Superman at only a 54% win-rate, highlighting the potential fallibility of the character, at least on a fight-by-fight basis.

This argument is also quickly quashed by the prominent existence of playable characters, like Raiden; who is a god and already existant in-game on the precipice of suspended disbelief. Likewise, even the already confirmed Sub-Zero is more than capable of freezing his opponents (ala; Mr. Freeze) to take fatal victory in an instant if not for the competitive mechanics of a video game.
Unfamiliarity shouldn't be left to cloud common sense and precedent for what might be a conceptually flawed compromise between two companies, but otherwise works, strictly based on fundamentals.

Ironically, I don't want to come off too supportive.
I personally regard the game a misstep for a series that promised to step into the arena of the next generation of gaming with a newly rebuilt fight mechanic, and a fresh slate. While it's fair to say everything vaguely promised has been delivered, the implication of losing many mainstay characters suggested something far more immersive for fans awaiting a conclusion to the last game's apocalyptice endings. Though story shouldn't be short with Palmiotti and Gray contributing to a split mode revealing perspectives from both franchises, the longterm viability of referencing crossovers with licensed properties is always unlikely -- effectively rendering this a prolonged interruption in the MK saga.

For me, it comes down to context, and the looming threat of homogenization that was talked about during our last Street Fighter entry [Street Fighter Alpha Vol.1]. DC, notorious for it's sub-par video games, is presumably attempting to extend the reaches of it's branding, while also improving it's stock in the gaming genre. On the flipside, MK benefits from similar expansion of an already incestuous fanbase, with far more expansive mainstream connotations.

I'm interested! With the dust settled, there's no doubting that this is the game that has my attentions as of this moment! That just doesn't distract from the fact that the MK design team have outstanding debts with dedicated fans, and as games gradually become increasingly detached from their brands, MK runs the risk of joining the trend having not yet established it's footing in this generation.
Will it be sloppy seconds for companies classically chasing their more successful counterparts, Marvel and Capcom, or is this the beginning of a turnaround for both? We've touched upon just some of the issues that are sure to be talking points on the Infinite Wars for the next few months! All you MK/DC fans should make sure to stay with us as we count down to the game every Monday with more fantasy match-ups: PLUS! This weekend, a special look at fatalities!

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 6

Not the greatest reveal in the history of comics, but definitely a much better read without the baggage of monthly release, and a year's worth of anticipation. Though not showed off to it's fullest, Loeb and Lee choreograph a fantastic fight scene, despite much of the battle keeping Hush at arms length! If you're looking to get better acquainted with the dark knight and some of the movers and shakers in Gotham City, Hush is a great place in history to start! You can get the whole story in two convenient volumes from Amazon! Amazon not only offer great prices, but by using purchases links provided here, or in the Infinite Wars Amazonian Gift Shoppe, you help sponsor future melees in the Infinite Wars!

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