For the longest time, I wasn’t all that interested in comics. Sure, I liked reading and collecting comics when I was in grade school during the heyday of Jim Lee’s X-Men run and the entire Death of Superman hype. But I never really considered comics as a real hobby. I didn’t see the need to collect comics since I could just borrow the issues from my friends and that would be it.
That all changed when I got older. One of my friends was talking about an upcoming 12-issue story arc involving Batman. It was going to have Jim Lee doing the art and Jeff Loeb writing the story. On a whim, I made the decision to reserve the entire 12-issue arc at the nearest comic book store where I used to work. That story arc was Batman: Hush. And this was the story that awoken a new love for comic books. DC decided to make a new animated movie based on Batman: Hush and I just finished it. While the animated version of Batman: Hush doesn’t follow the comic book story point-by-point, it does a fantastic job of translating the spirit of what made it one of DC’s more seminal modern Batman stories out there.
As this was just released a couple of days ago, there’s a good chance some of you haven’t seen Batman: Hush yet. But don’t worry, this review will be SPOILER FREE. I won’t be giving away any major details about the plot or the story. In fact, I think it’s imperative that anyone who would want to watch this DC Universe Animated Original Movie come in not knowing anything about the film because, even if you read the comic series, there are one or two surprises that you won’t see coming.
Batman: Hush takes place in the DC Universe Animated Originals Universe. Superman has just come back after the events of The Death of Superman two-part movie and Batman’s entire rogues gallery is coming out in full force. However, it seems like a new villain is pulling the strings in the background.
The first thing that struck me was the animation. While this is indeed a step up from the previous DC Universe Animated Originals Universe when it comes to the fluidity of the animation, the art style pales in comparison to Jim Lee’s original hand-drawn art from the comic. Everything looks great but a bit too clean. I just can’t help how much more beautiful it would look if the art imitated Jim Lee’s impressive linework and shadowing. I do have to mention that they did rework Batman’s costume to look akin to Jim Lee’s version in the Hush comic series but, like I said, it just doesn’t look as good and kind of looks out of place since everyone else is drawn with that DC Universe Animated Originals Universe aesthetic.
Don’t get me wrong: everything does move really beautifully and smooth in the animated version of Batman: Hush. I would even say it’s the best animation work I’ve seen that was set in this Universe. The fight scenes use a lot of dynamic camera angles to really get the best view of the action. There are even a few surprising deaths of innocent civilians, which I’m glad as this shows that they’re not shying away from adding some more mature content even if this is an animated film.
I will have to give props to whoever got the task to convert the 12-issue comic into a 80-minute animated movie. That guy did do a fantastic job of porting over Jeff Loeb’s original story to make it fit into this new Universe. He managed to incorporate the broad strokes and important plot points from the comic while mingling it with elements from this Universe. It did feel rushed at times, especially just after the halfway mark but that was a concession they had to make to condense a very lengthy story into 80-minutes.
Of course, some changes had to be made as DC had to make it fit into a totally new Universe, such as having to include Damien as he is the new Robin here DC did have to rework the Hush storyline somewhat and I can see this being a point of contention to those who loved the original comic so much as Jeff Loeb crafted an especially tight and engrossing story over those 12-issues. I personally was okay with this departure as it just worked for the story. But your taste may vary so this is just a friendly warning.
The weakest points of Batman: Hush, if you can really call it that, are the voice performances. And, truth be told, everyone does a good job. Everyone pretty much reprises their roles from the earlier animated films but most of them, such as Superman, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Joker and Harley Quinn, are only in the film for a brief period of time. Most of the time, you’ll be hearing Jason O’Mara as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Jennifer Morrison as Catwoman/Selena Kyle.
Both do a terrific job when they’re voicing Batman and Catwoman, respectively. It’s when they switch to doing Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle when things fall flat. Their vocal intonations and delivery is too similar with their costumed alter-egos manner of speaking. It wouldn’t be too bad but it does hurt the entire “it’s a disguise” idea. This is especially true for Jason O’Mara’s delivery as he makes Bruce Wayne sound too serious when he’s supposed to have this playful billionaire playboy persona. This also kind of bleeds into Jennifer Morrison’s Selena Kyle performance since you don’t believe that the two characters have any real connection between them. It’s not a huge problem since their versions of Batman and Catwoman sound fine. It’s just off-putting that their “normal” voices sound too much like their “costumed” characters.
Despite that one minor quibble, Batman: Hush is extremely good. It’s one of the best animated films to be a part of the DC Universe Animated Original Universe. Maybe that’s because I do have a strong bias for the original Batman: Hush storyline but I don’t think that’s it. Jeff Loeb’s original storyline was good and, even if I were seeing it for the first time here, I would say that it has one of the best and more interesting stories they’ve crafted lately. In fact, I think my love for the original comic is what’s keeping me from giving Batman: Hush a fully enthusiastic thumbs up because the art style isn’t as good as Jim Lee’s original sketches. Still, for what it is, Batman: Hush is definitely a must watch for both fans of the original comic book and for those who have no idea that this was based on a comic. It’s just that good.
Have you seen Batman: Hush? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!