Does the new background story for Hush maintain the integrity and essence of the original character?  I’d like to be able to give you a quick yes or no, but the fact of the matter is: it is going to take a serious evaluation of the material at hand to come up with a true and acceptable answer.  While they kept the driving force of the character true, they altered details that lead to these forces, and in this fan’s opinion, they aren’t nearly as strong as the original choices that were made for the character.  While the old version and the new version of Hush both end up in relatively the same place, it is their journey to that place that has changed.  I know that for some this won’t be a big deal but if you ask me, the devil is in the details, and these new details failed to impress me.

The next four paragraphs in the spoiler tag below are an examination, comparing the new background with the old one.  Obviously, spoilers a plenty, so skip over it to the rest of the review if you’re not interested.  (Be warned, some ranting included, if you would rather skip that too!)

Spoiler

Originally, Tommy Elliot planned the death of his parents so that he could inherit their fortunes and live his life the way he wanted, without having to wait forever for his parents to die naturally in order to claim it.  When he attempted to kill them, by severing the brakes in their car, it did result in a crash but only his father died.  His mother would have as well, if not for the surgical skills of Thomas Wayne.  Tommy was furious that Bruce’s father had ruined his plans by saving the life of his mother, hence condemning Tommy to years of waiting.  He couldn’t attempt to kill his mother again, because it would be too obvious that it was him, so he was forced to care for her for years and years.  Later, after the Waynes died, Tommy became insanely jealous of the fact that Bruce’s parents both died and that Bruce was granted the life that Tommy could now only wish for.  Being trapped with his mother, his anger and resentment of Bruce’s freedom grew more and more uncontrolled as the years passed.  This is the long drawn out and compiling fate that Tommy was forced to endure, and it is this same fate that helped him forge his hatred for Bruce.  This deep seated resentment that the original Tommy Elliot had was tempered over decades.

This New Tommy kills his parents, but why?  Not out of some desire to control his fate or to acquire his inheritance, but to be more relatable to Bruce.  New Tommy is already obsessed with Bruce from the start, wanting to be more like him.  New Tommy’s entire plan from the beginning is to be as much like Bruce as possible.  Old Tommy never had Bruce as part of the plan until his original attempts failed him.  Old Tommy wanted to kill Bruce out of revenge and did eventually want to become him, but not because he actually wanted to be Bruce, it was merely a means to an end.  That end being the money and power he so craved.  To some, this might seem like I’m splitting hairs but the New Tommy wants to be Bruce and the money and power come with that, while Old Tommy wants the money and power and becoming Bruce is how he hoped to acquire it.  Like I said earlier, they both end up in the same place, but they have different motives, and that makes a lot of difference to me.  Old Tommy is more of a monster, an extremely calculated monster, but a monster nonetheless.  This New Tommy just seems straight up crazy!

One of the things that I find most peculiar about this whole thing, is the fact that Eternal has had a habit of introducing villains, left and right, but never giving you background on them and just using them.  Expecting you to either figure it out as you go along or just accept that they are what you see and that is all that you need to know to be able to follow the story.  I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why they felt the need to include this little tangent about Tommy at all, instead of just following suit with the way they have handled all the other villains throughout Eternal (excluding Blackfire, who they also tried to revamp) and just using him.

At the end of the day, the history of a character that took multiple issues to reveal was relegated to 3 pages!  I’m a firm believer in the idea that, if you can’t improve on something, don’t touch it.  Sure, some will say that they can’t know how well it will be received until they try, but you can’t seriously expect me to believe that nobody in the writer’s room thought better of this course of action.  It was rushed, completely shoe horned in, and doesn’t do the character any justice.  If you read all that, I apologize for ranting so much, but I was seriously disappointed.  When a writer takes on the responsibility of these characters they also take on the responsibility of presenting them appropriately, and not in whatever way the whim might suit them at the moment.  In a lot of ways, this little rant wasn’t so much just about Tommy, but a collective out pouring of the disgust that I have been harboring for all the characters who have been unjustly disrespected in the last couple of years.

If you enjoyed this new background story, then more power to you, and I’m glad you enjoyed it, but for me it is a far cry from the work that was put into the original.  Now that I am done, on to the actual review.

While this issue has a couple things that I found downright annoying, the rest was actually a lot of fun.  The relationship displayed between BeeGee, Jay, and Julia is pretty amusing and very well written.  I was also happy to see that Babs is actually pretty civil with someone for a change!  Tim and Bruce share a heartfelt moment and again later on Bruce and Julia have one as well.  The amount of levity provided by the witty banter and the emotional highs provided by the character’s openness with one another really sets the writing in this issue apart as a rather positive experience on the whole.  It made me really regret the fact that such good material was paired with such flat material.  I don’t want to give the impression that the comic in all its parts was only average.  It had moments that really shined, that when paired with relatively dull moments, just average out to a mediocre experience overall.

After reading Tec #35, with all its serious issues, I was likewise pleased to find that Eternal also had a splash of topical realism thrown in.  In this day and age we are no strangers to the idea of always being on film no matter where we go, that (with the rise of the internet and social networking) our personal lives have become that less personal, and the fact that almost everyone carries a cell phone (making them instantly trackable) has become a somewhat unsettling reality.  If the Government truly decided to use these avenues to spy on us, as they might already be doing, ideas presented in novels like 1984 are far more topical and pertinent issues than most of us would like to believe.  I may be jumping the gun on this one, but I can’t help but feel that these are the baby steps that might lead us down the path to a world like the one depicted in V for Vendetta.  Overall, this week’s comic reviewing experience has really got me feeling paranoid!

R.M. Guera handles art again, but I’m not going to spend the same amount on him as I did last review.  You already know what I think and I have no desire to bash him unduly.  I just have a couple of quick things to add.  The scars, cuts, and blood stains on Bruce look phenomenal!  Why can’t everything look that good?  Then I came to the flashback scene and was like, “What!?!?!?”  If Guera can draw like this, why isn’t he doing the entire issue like this!  It’s much better!  Then I flipped back to the credits and realized that it was another artist, Juan Ferreyra, who did the flashbacks.  Congratulations to Ferreyra for being the diamond in the ruff!  Lastly, I was not aware that the side effects of getting fear toxin injected directly into your brain was accelerated aging and rapid weight gain….

No interesting facts in this review.  I figure there is enough in that Hush rant.

Spoiler

  • I understand Jay, Tim, and BeeGee looking around at each other in shock after Hush’s name comes up, but why exactly does Julia look surprised?  She doesn’t even know who Hush is yet!
  • Tommy Elliot cuts his forehead on the mirror and yet decides to wrap his entire head in bandages….yep.  Let’s just come up with a completely inorganic way to introduce his “costume”.  sigh….
  • Why did the Spoiler assume that posting again would get her a result that would be any different than the one she received last time?  While we are on the subject of the Spoiler, a 100 million dollar bounty is outrageous!  I’m sure they could have found someone just as willing to kill her for nothing more than 50 thousand.
  • The last time we saw JD she was parading out of the bowels of Arkham with a bunch of demons, ready to wreak havoc all over Gotham.  What happened?    I know I’m not a fan of Guera’s art, but I will admit that his rendering of JD was actually pretty good.  I meant that as an actual compliment, but since it is JD, I guess one could take it either way.
  • Quick question.  Does anyone else feel like, from time to time, that Eternal is nothing more than a retelling of Batman’s greatest hits, repackaged?  Sometimes, I find that my excitement in regards to certain issues, stems from me remembering previous issues.  It has me wondering how much Eternal is cashing in on my nostalgia and whether or not just reading the original stories wouldn’t actually be more fun than reading some of these “remakes”.  It’s just something I have been tossing around in my head and wondering if anyone else has considered that as well.

Recommended if…

  • You’ve been waiting for the family to patch things up and function like a team again.
  • You want to see the New52’s take on the Hush origin story.

Overall:

The BatFamily working together, plenty of humor, and the all too realistic prospect of government sanctioned surveillance and the loss of basic civil rights.  Sounds like a pretty awesome issue, and it well could have been, except for the fact that the art was sub-par and the new Hush origin story was even more so.  Basically, there was as much to like, as there was not to.  I really wanted to go a lot harder on this issue than I did, so that five is me being generous.  I have not seen Eternal deliver more than two “bad” issues in a row so far, so here is to hoping that the next one hits it out of the park!

SCORE: 5/10