A Hush Falls Over Gotham: Lieberman talks "Gotham Knights" and Hush

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Knights" #63

In November, 2003, Batman fans finally learned the answer to a question that had haunted them for a year, "Who is Hush?" The trench coat clad villain with the bandaged face had been manipulating the Dark Knight's rogues in an attempt to destroy him. In "Batman" #619, readers learned that Bruce Wayne's childhood friend Tommy Elliot was Hush. The mystery was solved. Or was it? In "Batman: Gotham Knights" #60 writer A.J. Lieberman shocked readers by revealing that Hush has been keeping the real Tommy Elliot prisoner. CBR News spoke to Lieberman about his work on "Gotham Knights" and the renewed mystery of Hush's identity.

Lieberman brought Hush back to Gotham City with his first arc on "Batman: Gotham Knights." "In trying to keep the readers interested we wanted to really play with their expectations and what they might have thought was going on," Lieberman told CBR News. "I wanted to hook readers in with our first arc ('Pushback' #50-55) and then pull the carpet out from under them just as they were getting comfortable. Ideally this issue (#60) would've come right after 'Pushback,' but it was pushed due to the 'War Games' crossover."

Readers have been responding to the revelation of Hush's identity. "From the response I've gotten so far, it still seems to have registered," said Lieberman. "Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, once readers think they know what's going on with a character, it means one thing: boredom. Dropped in like this, it creates a new sense energy for the book and the character."

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Lieberman had not originally planned to revive the Hush mystery when he began writing "Gotham Knights." "It was only after Hush seemed to spark such heated debate that I think the editors knew they had a character worth keeping around. So once we decided to highlight Hush in 'Gotham Knights,' we started building stories around who he is (or isn't)."

Along with Hush, Lieberman reintroduced another villain with a grudge against Batman, Prometheus, who single handedly took out most of the JLA in his first encounter with them. "When I discussed the initial arc with Matt Idelson and Nachie Castro ('Gotham Knight's editor & assistant editor) I wanted Hush to have almost like a body guard, someone to watch his back for him," Lieberman said. "They suggested Prometheus."

The relationship between Hush and Prometheus was never great to begin with and begins to deteriorate in upcoming issues of "Gotham Knights." "Obviously Prometheus is not without his own powers, but he is without his portal 'hammer.' Without the hammer, a big crutch both physically and mentally, Prometheus is at a disadvantage. Of course this is why Hush decided he'd be a good underling. In the up coming arc ('Human Nature' #61 - 65) Prometheus' relationship with Hush gets more precarious. And while Hush will be dealt a devastating personal blow, that missing hammer will force Hush to, literally put a gun to his head, to save a life he doesn't want to save."

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In issue 61 of "Gotham Knights" Hush begins to form a relationship with another Batman villain. "He will, in Poison Ivy, find something he never thought he'd ever find a soul mate," Lieberman explained. " Having said that, Hush is unprepared for what his feelings for Ivy make him do. And to take it a step further, what he does is not done from being under Ivy's control. In fact Ivy learns she can not control Hush. A fact explained in the story."

Poison Ivy has appeared often in Lieberman's "Gotham Knights" run. At the end of Lieberman's first arc Ivy helped the Riddler escape Hush's wrath and she assisted Batman in finding Hush's hideout in issue 60. Lieberman said that both of these favors would come back to haunt Ivy during the "Human Nature" story arc.

Once "Human Nature," which highlights Poison Ivy, ends there will be two single-issue stories. Lieberman told CBR these issues, "Play off events that have come earlier, but are now seen from a different point of view than the first time they happened."

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Lieberman writes "Gotham Knights" as a series of ongoing stories with more open endings instead of a series of story arcs with hard endings. "I want to get as many balls up in the air as possible so I could then double back and start setting up these inter-locking stories that would have meaning by themselves as well as be part of a larger whole," explained Lieberman. "As a fan, these are the stories I like reading. The feedback has been great so far and I'm glad because I think layering in plots this way makes for a better book, a more intimate experience and you get a chance to see the ramifications of a set of events and then see the ramifications of those same events a different way. Issue #67 makes great use of this meshing, and it's going to kick ass. "

Readers looking for a quick resolution to the mystery of Hush should relax and enjoy the mystery as it unfolds. "Seriously, I think the fun in Hush is not knowing (for now). The more developed a character becomes, the more intense this mystery is."

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