REVIEW: Batman: Hush
The Hush storyline by Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee, and Scott Williams was a smash sales success because it safely followed the Loeb formula of a 12-issue mystery that enveloped every major member of the rogues’ gallery. First, there was the Holiday killed and the making of Two-Face and here we have the new threat of Hush which connects to young Bruce Wayne’s childhood.
To fit this into the connected Animated Universe, Batman: Hush, out now from Warner Home Entertainment, a host of changes had to be made. The one that did not need alteration is the one that entirely spoils the final third of the 82-minute film.
I’ve not been fond of veteran animation writer Ernie Altbacker’s previous forays into the DCAU, but this contains some of his finest moments. Coupled with above-average source material and fine character designs, this is one of the stronger-looking films in a while.
I have no problem with the replacements: Lady Shiva (Sachie Alessio) for Talia, Batgirl (Peyton List) for Huntress, and Damian for Tim Drake. The latter has the film’s best moment, a hilarious dialogue between Batman and Damian (Stuart Allan) about the Bat now dating the Cat.
Altbacker shifted the emotional center of the film from the comic’s relationship between Bruce Wayne and Tommy Elliot to Batman (Jason O’Mara) and Catwoman (Jennifer Morrison). Given last year’s attention to the wedding that wasn’t, the romance between the pair remains ripe for exploration. The evolving relationship between the two throughout the film makes it eminently watchable. It’s fun watching Selina Kyle adjust to being part of the extended Batman family with some of the film’s nicer moments, Voice actors O’Mara and Morrison blend very nicely together.
Hush has an elaborate scheme involving Batman’s foes, a revenge mystery that keeps Batman guessing until the beginning of the ill-conceived final third, that ignores the comics in favor of something that makes little sense and feels wrong on multiple levels.
Nicely replicated from the comics are the confrontations with Poison Ivy (Peyton List), Superman (Jerry O’Connell) (with some fine Lois Lane [Rebecca Romijn] (lines), and Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch). The emotional toll reaches a crescendo when Batman nearly beats the Joker (Jason Spisak) to death even though, ironically, he’s innocent this time. One could argue that emotional outburst really needs to come later in a moment between Batman and Tommy Elliot (Maury Sterling) but the latter is seriously underdeveloped.
The whole Jason Todd back from the dead thread, something that has never sat right with me in any medium, is absent here, having been covered previously in the series’ Batman: Under the Red Hood entry.
The film is available in all the usual combinations. The Ultra HD 4K edition is in the standard 16×9.1 ratio, nicely capturing the shadows and muted color scheme throughout. The Blu-ray version is equally strong so either edition would be fine for hoe viewing. The accompanying DTS audio track is up to the task, making explosions and sound effects work well with the effective Frederik Wiedmann score.
On the Blu-ray disc, extras include the welcome return of the DC Showcase series of shorts featuring secondary heroes. We have here a Sgt. Rock adventure (14:51), written by Louise & Walter Simonson and Tim Sheridan. It’s fun seeing the combat happy joes of Easy Company, the Iron Major, and the Creature Commandos although I have my quibbles with some story choices. I’d much rather had had a straight war story for variety.
Rounding out the special features, we have Batman: Love in Time of War (16:52), with an assortment of talking heads exploring the Batman/Catwoman relationship in comics, television, and film. There’s a Sneak Peek: Wonder Woman: Bloodlines (9:59) and, finally, “Catwalk” from Batman: The Animated Series.