TALES FROM THE DARK MULTIVERSE: BATMAN: HUSH #1/ Script by PHILLIP KENNEDY JOHNSON/ Pencils by DEXTER SOY & SERGIO DAVILA/ Inks by DEXTER SOY & MATT SANTORELLI/ Colors by IVAN PLASCENCIA/ Letters by TROY PETERI/ Published by DC COMICS
I couldn’t help but be reminded of the old Marvel What If? series as I opened up Tales From The Dark Multiverse: Batman: Hush #1. It’s essentially the same concept, but with Uatu The Watcher replaced with Tempus Fuginaut, explaining the idea of alternate realities before we see how some famous story might have ended differently. Of course with this being the Dark Multiverse, which is built on stories where the heroes failed, you know that ending is going to be bad.
Based on the title, one might presume this issue would present an alternate take on Batman: Hush. Yet despite Dexter Soy doing his best rendition of The Best of Jim Lee in the issue’s opening, this comic has nothing to do with the story of Batman:Hush. Indeed, it barely has anything to do with the character Hush.
Our story is set in a Gotham City that has become a fascist independent city state. (How? It isn’t explained.) Years earlier, Tommy Elliot and his family were there on the night that Thomas and Martha Wayne died in a random robbery and it was they who adopted Bruce Wayne and raised him rather than Alfred Pennyworth. Unfortunately, they could do little to comfort the disturbed Bruce, who has secretly been in and out of Arkham Asylum for most of his life. Tommy on the other hand, has flourished, becoming a Senator of the new ruling body of the city, thanks to the behind the scenes machinations of the Court of Owls. Unfortunately, things are far from peaceful, and there are many who seek to disrupt the new status quo including some strange figure dubbed the Arkham Devil.
Phillip Kennedy Johnson spins an interesting tale here, but his setting is far more interesting than his protagonist. There’s not enough to Tommy Elliot to make him interesting on his own. As a result, most of this issue is devoted to briefly showcasing other members of the Bat-family and how they developed in a Gotham without Batman.
To throw off a few examples, Nightwing is now the Gray Son – leader of the Court of Owl’s security forces. Jason Todd is running a munitions company called Redline, but is secretly the city’s biggest smuggler. Barbara Gordon is Oracle (in a Lady Justice inspired blindfold mask) but she’s leading a team called The Outsiders to take Gotham back from the 1% who killed her father. Any one of these characters would be more interesting fodder for an Elseworlds’ tale than Tommy Elliot.
The artwork is serviceable but all the artists involved have done far better. The ghost of Jim Lee hovers heavily upon this story and Dexter Soy seems to be trying to copy Lee’s style rather than going his own way with things. (This is most apparent in the introduction.) Soy fares better than Sergio Davila and Matt Santorelli, however, whose concluding segment seems oddly cramped with ill-placed panels that don’t flow well. Troy Peteri tries his best to fit the dialogue in where he can here, but there’s too little space for too many words. However, the color art by Ivan Plascencia is good.
Only the most die-hard of Bat-Fans and Dark Multiverse completists need bother with this issue. It has nothing to do with the original Hush storyline, which is forgivable. The fact that it is centered around a dull protagonist and features a predictable “twist” ending is not. The by-the-numbers artwork is tolerable, but only that.