By Paul Dini (writer), Dustin Nguyen (pencils), Derek Fridolfs (inks), John Kalisz (colors)

After the trite and tiresome rantings of Hush last issue, Paul Dini wisely refocuses the story on Batman this time around as he works on finding a boy kidnapped by the Scarecrow. Yes, there’s still flashbacks to Hush’s enslaved past as he explains to Bruce that he doesn’t have the same luxuries and must wait for his mother to die before he can be “free”. If these musings are supposed to invoke some kind of sympathy for the character, Mr. Dini is dead wrong. Instead, Hush once again comes off as a jealous cry baby with parental issues that honestly anyone could care less about. But what Hush ends up doing after a confrontation with Catwoman is horrific. Talk about coming out of nowhere! There’s a method to his madness, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t come across as an almost random act of violence.

As for the rest of the issue, it’s standard Batman fare. Bruce walks into Scarescrow’s experiment and must use his brain and reflexes to get out of his predictament. It’s very “by the numbers” and anticlimactic, but the situation’s drama is heightened thanks to Dustin Nguyen’s artistic skills and John Kalisz forboding color palette. There’s an underlying plot at work here – Batman’s being distracted, worn down so that Hush can come in for the kill. It’ll be interesting to see where Dini’s story ultimately takes us, but for now this is all average at best. To its credit, however, the issue is paced quite well, but it honestly has little to do (again) with the RIP storyline running in Batman. Like Morrison’s storyline, maybe this will all make a little more sense in a couple of months. (Grade: C+)

– J. Montes