Here we are, day six of the #bannedbooksweek blogs. I really felt the love (Thank you!) from the Capote In Kansas post, so I’m going to stay true to myself, and for the last two days of the seven-day mini-marathon, I’m going to do some stuff that I want to do and not necessarily highly profiled banned or questioned books, although is some ways, the titles that I will be discussing do create some waves, especially in the classroom. So, here’s the line-up for the next two-days: today, I will be discussing the Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Batman classic HUSH; tomorrow, I will end #bannedbooksweek with a very needed discussion about using graphic novels to teach Shakespeare…FOR SHAME!
Let’s get into this discussion on Batman: HUSH, originally published in single issues as Batman 608-619. This is the second hero book that I am reviewing this week; I guess I can’t really say that I don’t like discussing hero books on this blog, can I? OK, here’s the deal with that though; like many of you, I was out of comics for a while, and if you leave hero books for a while, stuff hits the fan quickly, and you can be completely lost and hopeless in two years. For example, most people do not know that the current Spider-Man is half black…and in 8th grade. Anyway, it also doesn’t help that many comic-shop owners are self-righteous and are hesitant to help you GIVE MONEY TO THEIR STORES! So then, what do you do? I’d suggest a couple things: find a friend or two (like me or Ronell over at www.thecomicbookteacher.com) that can help you navigate through the craziness that is hero comics, and/or find a new comic shop with a cool owner. I did both, and over the past couple of years, I’ve started to go from only non-hero graphic novels to some hero stuff as well. For a lot of the older stuff, I just acquire the trades that made the biggest noise, thus…Spider-Man: Revelations and Batman: HUSH. Now that that’s cleared up, let’s continue.
Batman: HUSH is an excellent entry into Batman if you have not read much of the caped-crusader. First of all, as a fan of art, I must say that Jim Lee murders this book! Batman has never looked so bad-ass and utterly huge. You never question how this Batman can hold his own against Superman: he’s almost bigger.
Next, while Jeph Loeb’s writing is first-rate, and the book has some really good pay-offs in the end as far as the writing goes, this collection exposes fans to a litany of classic Batman characters: The Joker, Harley Quinn, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, Dick Grayson, Superman, Batgirl…the list goes on. The book also does a good job of attempting to explain the roles of the characters as they pop up, just in case you do not know who they are or what purpose they might serve in the Batman Universe.
Is this a book that I would teach in any of my classes, no; it’s not literary enough for me. But is this a book I would be comfortable handing out to older kids that were looking for a new read, sure. The only thing in this book, besides hero-book violence, that might be considered questionable is the artist’s portrayal of the women in their tight clothes and all, but the more I think about it, don’t super-hero guys wear clothes just as tight and revealing? I mean, the George Clooney Batman had nipples on his costume, remember? Classic. This story is solid; it reads as a piece of detective fiction; the art is crazy good. And to top it all off, there’s a love story between Batman and Catwoman that’s pretty intriguing…
If you are looking to get into Batman, or if you’re a Batman fan and have not read this book, check it out. Keep it on your school book-shelf (if you dig it), and try not to be afraid of hero titles even though they can be intimidating.
Happy reading, everyone!