The unthinkable has happened: sadly, we have lost Alfred Pennyworth, a dear member of the Bat-Family. I know that is old news by now, but honestly, especially in comics, who knows what is really going to happen — we are in a DC Universe that is dealing with a Superman whose secret identity is no longer a secret, Wonder Woman being the first DCU hero, and even Superboy Prime is out there lurking and waiting. So I was holding out some hope that Alfred was still alive, but this Annual is outside the scope of Tom King’s Batman run so this is making it real.
There are two stories inside the annual: “Who Dares, Wins” by Peter J. Tomasi and Sumit Kumar, “The Week” by Tomasi and Eduardo Risso. What really drew me to this issue is the beautiful cover by Steve “The Dude” Rude; his art is just timeless and he really creates some emotions for Bruce concerning Alfred that I’m not ready to see. Don’t worry, though, the stories inside are lighter than the emotions in the actual Annual.
In the first story, Peter J. Tomasi brings Alfred’s past back with some unfinished business from secret agent days. Turns out that Alfred’s partner, Marigold Sinclair, is coming to Bruce Wayne to get help with bringing in a rouge member of that team. This would be some great closure for Alfred since that traitor escaped and hasn’t been brought forward for their Cold War crimes and traitorous ways to the crown. It’s a fun little story but it is more about how this is a reason Alfred left the British S.I.S. and just felt betrayed…which would’ve been nice, but it’s too new for us the readers so the attachment doesn’t feel there. It was nice to see Bruce team up Marigold and help close this chapter in Alfred’s past. I think the fun parts were seeing Bruce have to figure out how to run a better Wayne Manor and not lose what Alfred had built up.
The second story was a better goodbye as it was an Alfred from the days of Zero Year and how he was dealing with Bruce wanting to become Batman. This was fun as the words come to us in the form of a letter Alfred is writing to Marigold and I love the way Tomasi words the events so they sound like some actions of a lofty playboy, while Risso’s art shows us something entirely different. They did a great job of setting this in the New 52 origin story arc by Scott Synder and it was just so amazing to see how this was for Alfred as well. It gave me, as a reader, a better bond between Bruce and Alfred. This was the better of the two stories in my opinion.
This will be just one of the celebration issues looking back at Alfred, as there is the upcoming Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P. It was a neat little story but overall it did feel weak…I just wish they could’ve had more insights to how Bruce is feeling since he lost the man who raised him to his “father.” That would’ve been neat, but maybe that’ll feature elsewhere. If you’re collecting the Tomasi Detective run or just want to have a nice little Alfred remembrance story, then I recommend picking it up.
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