|Publication date||October 2002 – September 2003|
|Main character(s)||Batman |
|Volume 1||ISBN 1-4012-0060-5|
|Volume 2||ISBN 1401200923|
|Complete edition||ISBN 1401223176|
|Deluxe hardcover||ISBN 1401229921|
|Absolute edition||ISBN 1401204260|
Batman: Hush is an American comic book story arc published by DC Comics featuring the superhero Batman. It was published in monthly installments within the comic book series Batman, running from issue #608–619 in October 2002 until September 2003. The story arc was written by Jeph Loeb, penciled by Jim Lee, inked by Scott Williams, and colored by Alex Sinclair, under the editorship of Bob Schreck.
The story depicts a mysterious stalker called Hush who seems intent on sabotaging Batman from afar, and it includes many guest appearances by Batman villains, as well as various members of the Batman Family and Batman's close ally Superman. It also explores the romantic potential between Batman and Catwoman.
Batman: Hush was published in monthly installments within the comic book series Batman, running from issue #608–619 (October 2002–September 2003) by DC Comics. The first issue of the story arc was a success ranking 1st in the Top 300 comics for the October 2002 period with pre-order sales of 113,061. It was later collected into two volumes as hardcover and softcover, and later in 2005 in an oversized Absolute Batman: Hush hardcover slipcase. DC Comics released the story arc in one volume in August 2009. A hardcover collected edition featuring Jim Lee's artwork entirely in pencil form, titled Batman: Hush Unwrapped Deluxe Edition, was released on February 22, 2011.
The story begins with Batman rescuing a boy kidnapped by Killer Croc when Catwoman steals the ransom money for the boy. As Batman swings through Gotham City in pursuit of her, his grapple is cut and he falls to the ground, fracturing his skull. He is nearly killed by a group of criminals before he is saved by Huntress. His butler, Alfred Pennyworth, follows his instructions to summon his childhood friend, Thomas Elliot, who is now a renowned brain surgeon. Dr. Elliot removes the skull fragments from Bruce's brain. Batman recovers and discovers that Poison Ivy used Catwoman to steal the ransom before taking the money from her. Catwoman is furious when she learns that Ivy had used mind-control powers on her. Batman rescues Catwoman and a tenuous romance blooms between them. Batman eventually decides to trust Catwoman and reveals his identity to her. At this time, Killer Croc's increasing savageness (and decreasing humanity) allows him to escape from Arkham Asylum, with Batman immediately tracking him. Killer Croc leads Batman to one of Poison Ivy's abandoned greenhouses. Before he can interrogate him further, Killer Croc is captured.
Batman and Catwoman track Poison Ivy to Metropolis. There they find Ivy has taken control of Superman, and she commands the Man of Steel to kill Batman. Batman observes that Superman is subconsciously resisting Ivy's influence, holding back in his attempts to kill the Caped Crusader. Using a variety of weapons, including flashbang grenades, hypersonics, electroshock, and a kryptonite ring to defend against Superman, Batman stalls Superman while Catwoman lets Lois Lane fall from the Daily Planet building. Superman breaks free of Ivy's control to save Lois, he and Batman then capture Ivy.
Later, in Gotham City, Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle, Leslie Thompkins, and Dr. Elliot are attending the opera Pagliacci, when Harley Quinn tries to rob everyone in the theater. In the ensuing struggle, Dr. Elliot is apparently shot dead by the Joker. An enraged Batman begins to brutally beat the Joker, knocking out Harley Quinn and even Catwoman in the process when they both tried to intervene. Batman attempts to finally kill the Joker but is then dissuaded by former police commissioner James Gordon who intervened by superficially wounding Batman with a gunshot.
Dick Grayson returns to Gotham City for Elliot's funeral. Batman tells him of his suspicions that some mastermind is behind all his enemies behaving so out of character. Behind the scenes, a man with a bandaged face appears at all of the crime scenes, and seems to be orchestrating the plot. He comes to be referred to as Hush.
After foiling an armored car robbery by the Riddler, Nightwing and Batman discover evidence that Ra's al Ghul is also involved in what Batman has come to think of as a grand plot. Batman kidnaps Ra's' daughter Talia and leaves Catwoman to guard her while he seeks out Ra's, who tells Batman that someone from his past has used one of the Lazarus Pits. Catwoman is overpowered by Lady Shiva who has been sent to rescue Talia, but Talia knocks Shiva out and helps Catwoman recover from the attack, later relating these events to Batman. Returning to Gotham, Batman finds Catwoman being attacked by a delusional Huntress. Batman is able to have her knocked out, but then encounters the cause of the Huntress' attack, the Scarecrow, but he overpowers him in a graveyard. He discovers that the current Robin, Tim Drake, has been captured by the former second Robin, Jason Todd, who had previously perished during the events of the 1988 storyline "Batman: A Death in the Family". While fighting Jason, it becomes apparent that Clayface is mimicking the identity of Jason.
Batman then finds a device planted in his computer, which lead him to seek his old friend (and trusted mechanic) Harold. He has a late-night meeting with Harold, who has been missing since the times of the 1999 "No Man's Land" storyline. Harold admits that someone had treated his disfigured condition in exchange for planting that device, but he is shot and killed by Hush before he can name the mastermind. Thomas Elliot is discovered to be the trigger-man, and the face behind the bandages of the mastermind (it is later implied that Clayface had been mimicking Elliot when he appeared to be killed). Elliot held a grudge against the Wayne family since Batman's father, Dr. Thomas Wayne, had saved the life of Elliot's mother after a motor vehicle accident; Elliot had sabotaged his parents' vehicle in order to gain their inheritance, and considered Bruce's father as the one who did not allow his plan to be completed. In the ensuing confrontation, Elliot is shot by the reborn Harvey Dent and plummets into the water, with Batman never having a chance to unmask him (it is only assumed it is Thomas Elliot). His body is unable to be recovered.
In an epilogue to his face-off with Elliot, Batman discovers that the true mastermind behind the conspiracy is the Riddler. Batman realized it was Riddler when he used not his real name in Elliot's medical records, but the name of the inventor of the crossword puzzle, Arthur Wynne. Riddler had used a Lazarus Pit to cure himself of terminal brain cancer, and during his time in the pit, deduced Batman's identity as Bruce Wayne. Having first approached Thomas Elliot with a cure for his mother's disease (the Lazarus Pit), the Riddler had instead allied with Elliot against Wayne. Riddler was also the only villain who Batman did not believe acted in an unusual way during the entire saga; the robbery Batman foiled was fairly typical of Riddler at the time. The Riddler also tells him that he and Elliot referred to the plot as the "Hush" plot. He further reveals that he knows Batman's identity as Wayne, but Batman is unfazed because a riddle which everyone knows the answer to would be worthless to Riddler. In addition, Batman warns that if Riddler reveals his secrets, it exposes Riddler as the culprit who used Ra's al Ghul's Lazarus Pit, who would then send the League of Assassins after him.
Another mystery begins troubling the Dark Knight. Even though the man he fought at the graveyard was revealed to be Clayface, Jason Todd's remains are still missing from his grave. The Riddler even taunts Batman of his greatest failure to save Jason's life, and refuses to tell him where Jason's body is, prompting Batman to knock out the Riddler.
In the final scene Batman and Catwoman meet. He continues to mistrust her and cannot be sure that she is not more aware of the plot than she admits. While trying to console him, Catwoman inadvertently tells him to "hush" seconds before trying to kiss him, provoking a fierce reaction from Batman that compels her to end the relationship. Before leaving, she says that she does not care if their relationship started out as a "spell". It works because of who they are, and someday he will learn to trust that. Batman also thinks that it may be possible "someday".
After the story's success, Lee and Loeb were slated to follow the story up with another six issues, but the project failed to materialize. Hush's story was continued by AJ Lieberman in the now discontinued Batman: Gotham Knights title.
The plot element involving Jason Todd was later retconned in other Batman storylines. In the Under the Hood arc, it was revealed that Batman was actually fighting the real Jason Todd in the graveyard, who later switched places with Clayface. Todd is now a vigilante known as the Red Hood and aims to dominate Gotham's underworld through vicious tactics. It is also revealed that Batman had suspected that it was really Jason Todd he fought with; he secretly realizes that despite that the supposed impostor mimicked Dick Grayson and Tim Drake in skills, some of his maneuvers uncannily belonged to Jason. His former protégé had been stalking him since then. This is evident during the arc storyline "As the Crow Flies", where it is shown that Jason's mask was found in the Batmobile. After Jason revealed himself to Batman and kidnapped the Joker, he not only antagonizes Batman and his allies in Gotham but also clashes with the Teen Titans, Outsiders and Green Arrow as well. At the same time the Dark Knight has desperately tried to reach Jason in an effort to atone for his past failures. Following the 2005–2006 "Infinite Crisis" storyline, the Riddler spent a year in a coma and lost all memory of ever knowing that Batman was Bruce Wayne.
The "Hush" storyline was followed up in Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen's storyline, "Heart of Hush", where Hush returns to get revenge on Batman through Catwoman and surgically changed his appearance to match Bruce Wayne's in an attempt to steal his identity. The series was praised for adding backstory and depth to the character of Hush while returning him to a credible threat. An origin story for Hush is given in Detective Comics #846–847.
IGN Comics ranked Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 of Batman: Hush #10 on a list of the 25 greatest Batman graphic novels, saying that "there are some truly unforgettable moments" and "Jim Lee's artwork is unbelievable".
The entire storyline has been collected in two volumes and later into one volume.
In March 2007, producer Alan Burnett stated that they tried to adapt the Batman: Hush story arc in the episode "Rumors" of The Batman, but DC executives convinced the production team to not use Hush for the episode and the original villain Rumor, voiced by Ron Perlman, was created instead. In 2010, when Bruce Timm was asked if a Batman: Hush film would be released in the future as part of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies, he said that along with Batman: The Long Halloween, the story arc serves more as a comic than a film, but that Batman: Hush could also serve as a TV series.
After the successful reception of The Batman vs. Dracula, producer Jeff Matsuda tried to make a second The Batman film entitled The Batman vs. Hush, an adaptation of the Batman: Hush story arc. The film would have also involved the appearances of the Joker, Catwoman, Clayface, the Penguin, Mr. Freeze and the Riddler. The project was never materialized. Both Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill teased doing a Batman: Hush animated film; Conroy claimed that although plans to make an adaptation have yet to begin, he would love to make it.
An animated adaptation set in the DC Animated Movie Universe was announced during San Diego Comic-Con in 2018, featuring a "gauntlet of Batman villains including Poison Ivy, Ra's al Ghul, the Joker, and the bandage-faced mystery villain Hush". The film stars Jason O'Mara, Jerry O'Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Rainn Wilson, Sean Maher, Bruce Thomas, Vanessa Williams, and Stuart Allan who reprised their roles from previous DCAMU films with the new additions of Jennifer Morrison, Peyton R. List, Maury Sterling, Geoffrey Arend, Jason Spisak, Adam Gifford, Peyton List, and Dachie Alessio. The film was released July 19, 2019 on DVD and Blu-ray, and features a number of differences from the comics: Bane is the one who kidnaps the child instead of Killer Croc; Clayfaces takes the form of Riddler, imprisoned at Arkham Asylum, instead of Jason Todd; and the Riddler is revealed to be Hush instead of Thomas Elliot, whom the Riddler killed.