What a wild, well-written, and utterly wicked ride the "Heart of Hush" storyline -- by writer Paul Dini and artist Dustin Nguyen -- has been in the pages of DETECTIVE COMICS
I hated to see the story come to a close in issue #850 -- available at your local comic shop -- but I couldn't have asked for a more exciting (or satisfying) conclusion.
I won't discuss many specific details -- I'll save those for spoiler conversations we can all have together on the BOF MESSAGE BOARD.
And if you haven't been reading this story, I suggest you stop reading this review right now and go buy the individual issues (or purchase the hardcover collection coming in April).
What I've loved about this story is that we've gotten situations that could only exist in the comics -- such as Zatanna's magic, or Hush removing Selina Kyle's heart while keeping the rest of her (barely) alive with technology he developed with Mr. Freeze -- that are grounded in real, rivetingly written character drama.
The finale features guest appearances by Peyton Riley and Zatanna -- two ladies who've really (and thankfully) been major players in Dini's Batman stories -- but rightfully keeps its focus on Hush, Batman, and Catwoman.
Open the book and you'll be treated immediately to a gorgeous splash page by Nguyen featuring a classy, bad-ass poster commemorating the comic's 850th issue. I want this on my wall. I think it's watercolor, and it's black and white, with the only color being the dark red rimming around the letters. Amazing.
The action begins immediately and never stops. Batman, Nightwing, Robin, and even Alfred all get tussles with Hush before the issue is over, and one last flashback seals Dini's deal on just how twisted, terrible, and awful Dr. Tommy Elliot really is. (Peyton Riley's apparent demise in an earlier storyline was left open just enough that I really hope we get to see her in these pages again.)
There's a big scene between Bruce and Selina near the end that will please all the hopeless romantics like me while still playing entirely true to their relationship and where they both are at this particular point in their lives. It's beautifully written and drawn.
And while Bruce and the boys do the brawling, Selina gets her own deliciously -- and quite literally -- poetic justice on Hush by story's end.
I want to tell you -- and talk -- about everything in this issue, but like I said, I'll save it for the message board. You need to experience this yourself.
The art team of penciller Nguyen, inker Dustin Fridolfs, and colorist John Kalisz continues to be a winning combination. Nguyen's costumed heroes and villains have never looked cooler, nor have his women ever looked so gorgeous. And, as always, he's equally adept at staging dynamic action and calmer moments both quiet and creepy. Kalisz brings a perfect palette of colors to the mix, and he knows when to let loose and when to hold back.
And then, of course, there's Dini, whom I truly consider my favorite Batman comic writer right now. His single-issue "Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul" epilogue (in #840) was better than all the other issues of that entire awful storyline combined, and his reinvention of Hush these last several issues has been his finest run yet. Jealous, twisted, ruthless, wicked, and insane, Dini has brought Hush right to the top of the list of the best -- or should I say baddest -- Batman villains.
Even though I've bought all the individual issues, I can't wait to get the hardcover collection of this because I want it on my bookshelf.
"Heart of Hush" has been -- ands ends as -- a modern comics masterpiece of tragedy, terror, romance, and adventure.
(For some news about what's next for Dini, Nguyen, and Batman, check out this new interview with Nguyen on NEWSARAMA.COM.)
Thanks as always for reading, thanks again to Jett for the awesome opportunity to write these reviews, and I'll see you all next month for more talk about DETECTIVE! - John Bierly