Reviewed by: Mathan “How did this happen” Erhardt
Story Title: The Shape of Things to Come Part One
Written by: A.J. Lieberman
Pencilled by: Al Barrionuevo
Inked by: Bit
Lettered by: Phil Balsman
Colored by: Laurie Kronenberg
Cover by: Cliff Chiang
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
The issue begins with Alfred dreaming about his escape from Hush’s clutches as Hush narrates. He can remember events but not details. And he’s aware that his memory is flawed.
We then find ourselves witnessing Gotham firefighters battling a warehouse blaze six months ago. There is a collapse and only one firefighter makes it out alive. Two weeks after that we see Hush meeting with the thugs he used to kidnap Alfred. Hush makes an impressive show of force to keep everyone in line, but then makes a startling discovery.
Hush returns to his hideout to find verify his findings and then begins on the quest to find an accomplice to aide in his scheme, the surviving firefighter, Johnny Williams.
Then we’re in the present, where Alfred makes a breakthrough with his memory blockage.
Back five months ago, Hush witnesses Johnny’s dark descent. And as Johnny is about to end his life he is confronted by Hush, who makes him an offer.
Lieberman does a fine job of a Bat-book that’s virtually devoid of Batman himself. His use of Hush as the narrator throughout the issue handled very well, as it provides an insight into his ultimate plan and how Alfred’s memory loss has caused it to falter a bit. He recaps the crucial events that led up to this issue in a seamless way that doesn’t detract from the story. But the constant moving between the present and the past is a bit disorienting.
Visually the issue doesn’t disappoint. The scene with the firefighters in the warehouse is perfectly colored and really brings intensity to the pages. And Bit and Barrionuevo are a great collaboration, as witnessed by the melting “Karl” on page 12. The lettering isn’t too varied, but is readable. And Chiang’s cover is a great eye catching image.