And now on to something that I waited to pick up in softcover.
While I was ultimately disappointed with writer Paul Dini's "Heart of Hush," there's no denying that the man knows how to tell a good Batman story. That's why I was looking forward to this collection -- after it came out in softcover -- to see if he could get back on track. "Hush Money" isn't quite a full return to form, but it shows the writer to be perfectly capable of adapting to the new Dick/Damian status quo, and finding an interesting role for the villain Hush in this new era.
The end of "Heart of Hush" left the titular character flat broke after his fortune was stolen by Catwoman and nothing to his name except his new face. That of Bruce Wayne's. Hush soon figures out that he doesn't need to think big when there are Wayne enterprises all over the world to be looted. Though this eventually leads him back into the hands of Catwoman, and then a private cell atop of Wayne Tower. Naturally, this doesn't hold him for long and after the city is thrown into chaos through the actions of the Firefly, Hush makes his boldest move yet -- to assume the public persona of Bruce Wayne and destroy his financial resources. All through the nefarious means of philanthropy!
While Hush has always struck me as a forced attempt to create an A-list "Evil Batman" character, I like what Dini has done with him. Giving Bruce an evil doppleganger, hellbent on destroying his life, is a nice setup for a recurring Bat-villain. The way he's dealt with in this volume is also clever as our heroes turn his "hide in plain sight" strategy against him.
Dini also shows himself to have a good handle on writing Dick as Batman and particularly Damian as Robin. The latter's arrogance and sense of superiority come off more amusing than annoying here. He also shows that this setup allows for telling good, straightforward "Batman" stories as this dynamic duo matches wits with not only Hush and the Firefly, but the combined forces of Black Mask and Zsasz as well.
We're also introduced to a character who feels like an idea that Dini has been waiting to use since the end of "The Animated Series," in The Broker. If you've ever wondered how the criminals in Gotham find just the right place to use as a base of operations, it's because this guy found it first and sold it to them. Admittedly, he's more of an interesting concept than a proper character as I can't really see what else can be done with his character beyond the "questioning of his actions" done here, but it's still a nice addition to the mythos.
Art is from Dustin Nguyen, and while the man deserves better than working on a B-list Bat-title like this, seeing his name means that I don't have to worry about whether or not the book is going to look good. And yes, this really is just a B-list Bat-title, as for all the skill that's displayed in rendering these stories, there's nothing here that stands out as truly memorable. Morrison's shadow looms large over this collection, to be frank. So do I regret not buying this in hardcover? Not at all. Am I happy with buying this in softcover? Pretty much.