I really love Paul Dini’s take on Batman. Even when it’s not Bruce Wayne, there’s just something about Dini’s writing style that feels inherently Batman-esque. Maybe it’s the way he balances brooding anti-hero with moments of levity. Maybe it’s the requisite Harley Quinn cameo, always a bright spot in his stories. Whatever it is, Dini’s Batman just appeals to me. It may not be Bruce, but it’s hugely entertaining.
This story focuses on the aftermath of Bruce’s death, only this time it’s emphasizing the return of Tommy Elliott, alias Hush. Having survived his fall in the Bat-cave (duh) he resurfaces, and uses his newly bought Bruce Wayne face to collect money from various Wayne businesses around the world. Unfortunately, Bruce’s reappearance sets off some red flags and he finds himself in the clutches of an old foe.
Catwoman knows this isn’t the real Bruce Wayne, but she has a plan in mind to use Tommy as a scapegoat so that she can free captured animals. Tommy plans on fighting Catwoman’s henchmen and escaping on his own; of course, this plan is soon foiled when he learns their true identities.
Hush is captured and kept in a secluded cell where he can’t hurt anyone. This is Gotham though, and no one stays behind bars for long. Hush escapes one chaotic night and addresses the public almost immediately; surprisingly, he intentions are a bit…bizarre.
Hush begins spending Bruce’s money like crazy, giving it away to various charitable organizations in an effort to restore Gotham to its former glory. Fearful that Hush will bankrupt both Wayne Enterprises and Batman, an ultimatum (re: threat) is made to Hush, to ensure that he’s allowed to roam free without spending money that isn’t his.
With an unstable but satisfactory truce met, Hush is allowed to continue his charade as Bruce Wayne, perpetuating the belief that Bruce is still alive. No doubt this will all come to a head soon enough, especially with Gotham’s underworld building up to something much bigger beneath the surface.
It’s a bizarre conglomeration in the Bat-world. Hush is Bruce Wayne. Dick Grayson is Batman. Robin is such a pain in the butt that I actually miss Jason Todd. Everything’s topsy-turvy, yet Dini’s take on it all feels a bit more reassuring for the world of Batman. Perhaps it’s just because the comic isn’t about Dick taking on the role of Batman; here it’s just assumed, with him seeming at least a bit more comfortable in the role. Removing this from the central storyline helps propel the plot and make the story as a whole feel entirely more “Batman” in nature. It could very easily swing back around and focus on Dick’s insecurities in taking up the cowl, but for now I’d much rather read about him seeming at least somewhat comfortable in the role. If nothing else, I can pretend for a moment that Bruce is really back, and enjoy a true Batman story again.