With the appearance of a previously unseen Batman villain in this week's Batman Eternal #21, it's looking like Hush is the big bad behind the events of Batman Eternal.
The Hush appearance confirms what many fans suspected after seeing the cover to Batman Eternal #25, revealed here on Newsarama Monday.
The cover shows Hush in front of a burning Gotham City skyline, holding the empty Batman cowl and cape, an obvious reference to the first page of Batman Eternal #1, when readers were just briefly shown the end of the story. In the scene, Batman is shirtless (not wearing his cowl and cape), while Gotham City is ablaze behind him.
But Hush wasn't the only surprise in this week's issue, as Jason Bard, who's been playing the role of good guy so far in the series (and was just appointed police commissioner), was revealed to be part of Hush's villainous plan. And it was shown that Jason knows Batman has no idea who's behind the evil plot.
Some fans expected Hush to make an appearance in Eternal because he's one of the last major Batman villains who hasn't shown up yet in the New 52. In previous continuity, the man behind the bandages was Dr. Thomas Elliot, who grew up with Bruce Wayne and later became a surgeon, but harbors a grudge against Bruce.
The character was first introduced in the hugely popular 2003 mini-series Batman: Hush, written by Jeph Loeb with art by Jim Lee. In the years that followed, he became a part of Batman's rogues' gallery.
Hush last appeared in the pre-New 52 mini-series Batman: Gates of Gotham, which was written by two of Eternal's co-writers, Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins. In that series, he was freed from Arkham Asylum by the Architect, who also is playing a role in Eternal (as Higgins told Newsarama in May).
Hush fits the hints given so far in Eternal. It was insinuated in the early Eternal hints that the main villain not only knows Batman's secret identity is Bruce Wayne, but that he was on a first-name basis with him.
The long, elaborate, multi-villain plan also fits with Hush's modus operandi, as the Batman: Hush story involved a slew of Gotham rogues and required extensive planning.
But there's a few questions about Hush that still need answering:
- If Hush is the big bad, isn't issue #21 a little early for creators to reveal his identity, when there's still half a year to go in the weekly story?
- With the Batman timeline being altered by the New 52 reboot, is Hush still Tommy Elliot under those bandages? Or could he be someone else?
- How much of Hush's past is intact? It seems that some of it is, since Alfred recognized Hush and was quite obviously bothered by seeing him.
- Since Hush, in the past, has gone through plastic surgery to pose as other people, could we have seen him before in Batman Eternal, without realizing it?
- Who is Jason Bard, really? He was on the phone with Hush in this week's issue, calling him "mother," and saying that "Gotham belongs to us, now," so he's not just a pawn. (And the teaser for next week's issue said, "Find out who Gotham really belongs to…")
- How are Jason and Hush's efforts to get rid of Jim Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth connected to the other Eternal storylines — like the supernatural occurrences under Arkham Asylum and the "infection" by nanobots? Are they behind those things too?
- Could Jason's statement that Gotham belongs to "us" include someone else — someone who's pulling the strings even further behind the scenes? Or is Hush really behind everything in Eternal?