What happens when Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend turned hated enemy Tommy Elliott, better known as Hush, resurfaces to destroy the dark knight once and for all? A whole lot of shenanigans, that’s what.
I still struggle to take Hush seriously as a major Batman villain, but Paul Dini does a pretty good job of fleshing out the character’s motivations and helping to craft a believable and entertaining story (arguably one of the more entertaining “Hush” storylines I’ve read). Here Hush returns from assumed death yet again (as all the great villains do), continuing his personal vendetta against Bruce Wayne and vowing to destroy him and everything he cares about.
He makes his return to Gotham known, enough so that Batman can warn his teammates to be extra vigilant lest Hush attack. He somehow overlooked telling Catwoman though, and she wound up paying the price for that oversight.
The skilled Doctor Elliott removed Selina’s heart, hooking her up to a machine that keeps her alive while using the heart as bait to lure Batman into his trap. It’s a bit of a complicated plot to just get Batman in the right place at the right time, but this isn’t just about getting Batman to do what he wants; this is about making Bruce Wayne suffer.
We’re given further insight into the mind of this deranged man, how he came to hate Bruce because his mother was constantly comparing him to his friend; how his father repeatedly beat him while his mother stood by and did nothing; and how he ultimately killed his own mother in order to maintain hold over the vast fortune. All of this is revealed just as Hush reveals his own master plan:
He hopes to murder Bruce and take over his life, having reconstructed his face to resemble that of his former friend. Mercifully, his plan to murder Bruce fails, and Tommy and Bruce battle in the Bat-Cave before Tommy seemingly dies in an explosion.
Selina’s heart is returned to her body, and as she heals on a tropical island somewhere she makes a video for the presumed-dead Tommy Elliott just in case he’s still alive (a bit of a contrived plot device to explain what happened, but I’ll let it slide). She notes that she robbed him blind, stealing his vast wealth, distributing it to various associates and charities, leaving Hush penniless. Of course, Hush is still alive to see this video, so now we’re left wondering what he’ll do now that his fortune has been stolen. He’ll certainly have a difficult time defeating Batman without his fortune to back him up.
I must say, I don’t generally care for the “Hush” stories, but I rather enjoyed this one. Tommy Elliott’s character is expanded on here a bit more, and I really enjoyed the emphasis placed on the fact that Hush isn’t seeking to destroy Batman, but rather Bruce Wayne. The fact that Bruce is Batman is just happenstance, and so Tommy adopts a more theatrical means of dealing with Bruce to match his own costumed affairs. I like that this is more of a personal attack on Bruce and his entire life, rather than just being a strict “villain versus vigilante” story. I also really liked that we get a bit more detail about Tommy’s life as it compared to Bruce’s. We learn that he was once involved with Peyton Riley, a.k.a. the new Ventriloquist, and that she helped him secure his hold on his family’s fortune (side note: that poor girl has really bad luck in relationships). Paul Dini added enough detail to the character to keep him feeling fresh, so much so that I actually want to read more about the character now. Of course, I’d rather he only be written by Dini, since I vastly prefer his handling of the character over others. Overall, I enjoyed the story, and while it doesn’t really seem to tie into anything else going on in Batman directly, I won’t write it off as a self-contained story just yet. For all I know, the story will swing back around and play a major part in some upcoming event. If I’ve learned anything so far, it’s that nothing can be discounted as unimportant with these stories.