Hush - Volume Two (Hardcover)

Author: Jeph Loeb
Artists: Jim Lee and Scott Williams
Titan Books
RRP: 19.99
ISBN 1 84023 737 6
Available now

Having already battled Killer Croc, Poison Ivy and Superman, the machinations of Batman's unknown nemesis now produce a bone-crushing encounter with the Joker after a night at the opera. And like all great operas, the climax to this story promises tragedy, bloodshed and vengeance...

Volume two of Hush ups the stakes considerably. More of Batman's foes creep out of the woodwork including Harley Quinn, The Joker, The Riddler, Two Face, Scarecrow and Clay Face. Who is responsible for killing one of Bruce Wayne's childhood friends - and the man who set him on the road to recovery? All the evidence points to someone who has intimate knowledge of Wayne Corp - someone who also knows Wayne's secret identity is the Batman.

This collection works on many levels. The "Hush" of the title is attributed to a child's nursery rhyme about a baby that can't be satisfied. While it works when describing the mysterious killer, it also relates to Batman - a nice twist of which is illustrated at this books conclusion.

What is really impressive about this collection is the way that writer Jeph Loeb manages to bring casual Batman fans up to speed with earlier events in the Batman Universe, without boring the hard-core fans. Little panels dotted around filling the reader in on past events (like who Jason Todd was and how he died; the fact that Harley Quinn is The Joker's girlfriend; and who Harvey Dent was before he was scarred by acid) never seemed to intrude on the main plot.

It also weaves between different interpretations of the Batman, in all his forms. For example, there is panel that displays the automobiles inside the Batcave which shows that there are more than one Batmobile - in fact you can make out the model used in the 1989 Batman movie. So, this collection neatly attempts to tie together all narratives that have gone before.

The storytelling is faultless, the artwork a thing of beauty, and in reality there is nothing to fault with this collection - only that it should have been longer.

This has to be one of the best Batman collections of all time - not quite as good as The Dark Knight Returns, but it certainly comes close. Batman fans (both casual and hard-core) will love this intelligent work of art.

Darren Rea

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