Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Detective Comics #847 Review

Written by Paul Dini
Art by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs

I'm surprised at how much I am enjoying Dini's Hush story, especially since I disliked the horrible revelation as to his identity in the original Hush story.

For those unawares, this and the first issue are labelled as Batman RIP tie-ins. Sadly, they have nothing to do with RIP. The first part had Hush mention the Black Glove in one sentence and this issue doesn't do much more with the tie-in status. I don't mind Dini's ignoring of the forced tie-ins, particularly since this is an enjoyable story, but if RIP is the only reason you are thinking of picking this up, just ignore it now and spend your money on the Robin tie-ins, which is the only Bat-title that seems to be an actual tie-in.

One thing I really liked about this issue was the tying together and referencing of Dini's previous work on Detective. None of it is required reading to understand the story nor are you missing anything by not having read those, as is the case in some other DC titles. Things like Zatanna, Scarecrow (actually, I don't think Dini wrote those issues, but it was in Detective during a fill-in), the Wonderland Gang and the wonderful return of the Carpenter. There were just a lot of little nods to longtime readers that I liked and are hard to describe and I like when writers do this.

The purpose of this storyline is obviously to flesh out the paper thin Hush backstory and add some much needed depth and motivation to the character. In this regard, Dini is doing an excellent job. While I'm still finding it hard to justify Hush's vendetta against Bruce or Batman, it's now a much better reason than the ridiculous "Bruce's dad saved my mother from a car crash, so now I hate him!" that the original was.

The biggest surprise, however, came in the form of the Scarecrow. As it turns out, Hush was sent to see a psychiatrist after a camping trip with Bruce, in which Tommy beat another kid with a shovel for calling him a momma's boy. That psychiatrist ended up being a young Mr Crane, who would later become the Scarecrow. You can see how 'broken' Crane is in this flashback and his handling of Tommy and it was a nice touch, if you ask me.

This all lead to the conclusion in which Hush is seen stalking Zatanna and Catwoman, two of the women currently in Bruce's life (well, in every other book except Batman, where he's mysteriously in love with Jezebel Jet), and we see Hush talking to someone he refers to as "Mentor" and he refers to himself merely as "Pupil". It's then revealed that the mentor person is, indeed, the Scarecrow.

I'm not sure how that works, as I can't recall the actual details, but I'm sure Scarecrow was a pawn in the Hush storyline, but maybe Tommy didn't realize it was his former pyschiatrist at the time. Either way, I liked this and can't wait to see where Dini takes this next month.

Verdict - Check It. While I really liked this issue, it's not perfect by any means and there's the obvious misdirection with the whole non-Batman RIP tie-in that should justify a knock down from Must Read on principle. I think the next issue is still required to judge whether this will be a must read story or to see if the wheels fall off the wagon.

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