[Spoilers for Batman Eternal #34]
It looks like there's more to Batman Eternal's big bad than meets the eye.
When Hush was also shown on the cover to Batman Eternal #25 with a burning city behind him, it seemed to confirm that Hush was the main villain of the series — after all, the weekly's creative team gave a sneak peek of the ending of Eternal on the first page of the first issue, when an unseen (but heard) villain speaks to a defeated Bruce while Gotham City burns in the background.
Ever since Hush was revealed, readers have seen him pulling the strings behind the scenes, manipulating the new Police Commissioner Jason Bard and attacking Batman from multiple angles.
But that all ended this week. According to the clues in this week's issue, Hush is not behind everything in Eternal.
Although he's part of the plan, it looks like the plan belongs to someone higher up.
At the end of this week's Batman Eternal #34, Batman has disarmed Hush and, it appears, has taken him out of play. He also finds, in Hush's inside jacket pocket, a copy of the same invitation he took from Carmine Falcone in issue #21 — a clue that indicates he was asked by someone else to take part in the destruction of Batman.
"You have been cordially invited to partake in the devastation of Gotham City. Jim Gordon falls in precisely two weeks' time," the invitation says. "The rest is up to you."
This clue probably means Hush received the invitation, the same way Carmine did, from an unseen mastermind.
However, Hush did succeed in taking Wayne Enterprises down during his part of the plot. By the end of this week's issue #34, Wayne's entire company had been seized by the federal government. "For all intents and purposes," the issue said, "Wayne Enterprises is no more." This probably explains why Bruce Wayne loses his house by the end of Eternal's story (as shown in the first issue of Gotham Manor, which takes place after Eternal's current storyline).
But it doesn't explain who is behind all Eternal's shenanigans, and who's controlling the game in which Hush has been playing a role.
This wouldn't be the first time Hush was a pawn in someone else's plan. When the character was introduced in Batman #609, he appeared to be the mastermind of a giant plot to tear apart Batman's world. But the story, titled "Hush," ended with the revelation that Hush was just a front for an elaborate scheme put together by the Riddler.
Could Riddler be behind this story too? Did the outcome of Scott Snyder's "Zero Year", set in the past, give the Riddler reason to do damage to Gotham again in the present of Eternal? Or is the Eternal mastermind connected to the current "Endgame" storyline in Batman, where the Joker has been revealed as someone Batman didn't even suspect, and someone who's threatening to destroy Gotham as well?
If Hush isn't behind the plot to destroy Gotham and Batman in Eternal, who is?