Honestly, I’m still in shock — could this really be the final time I’ll see Alfred? Will it take a crisis to resurrect him? How can we get Alfred Pennyworth back in our comics? I’ve enjoyed Tom King’s run on Batman, and the fact that he got Bat and Cat together again, but taking away Alfred is a tough pill to swallow. There has been some attempt to have that last moment of respect for Alfred before, but it really comes together in this issue.
The overall issue is written James Tynion IV and Peter J. Tomasi, and this time, the memories are coming from Batgirl and the Robins. Tomasi looked back at Alfred in the recent Detective Comics Annual #3, which was a decent celebration of the adventures of Alfred. This time, it’s a little more personal, as we see the “children” of the Bat family speak on Alfred. The memories started with Damian Wayne, and he was the best and saddest of all. I’m sure Tomasi had most of this written out since he did a stint on the Batman and Robin book of the New 52 era. Tomasi did a fantastic job of celebrating family and relationships which is showcased very nicely in Damian’s story, but the ending was just sad since Damian blames himself for Alfred’s death; hard stuff to handle.
The next story of reflection comes from Tim Drake and I like that it goes back to Tim’s first months as Robin, but it honestly didn’t hit the mark for me. I felt like in the comics of that era, ’90s Batman, Tim and Alfred had a very strong mentor relationship; in Tim’s story, it just didn’t come off that way. Jason Todd had some fun moments on his relationship with Alfred and it was nice to learn that Alfred still checks in on him even after he left Gotham to do his own thing. I felt like that really added to Jason and Alfred’s relationship.
Barbara Gordon is next and that was another special moment as her and Alfred go on a hike. At first, it doesn’t seem like it should be anything major, but when they get to the top, Alfred reminds her that it is an anniversary of her being able to walk again. That was just a happy moment to know that Alfred doesn’t just watch over the Robins, but also keeps all of Gotham’s heroes in his heart. I like the fact that this book did not shy away from Ric Grayson; they totally could have just had him to be Dick, again but they didn’t. I think the best conversation between Bruce and any of the “children” was between him and Ric.
Everyone else shared their moment or memory of Alfred before storming out, putting major guilt on themselves or on Bruce. A horrible way to have a wake — honest, but horrible. Ric just tells Bruce the truth that he doesn’t feel the weight of this loss since he has no memories of it, but then asks Bruce to tell him what memory Dick would have mentioned. That memory is such a great insert into the relationship between Bruce, Dick, and Alfred. I’m glad that the memories ended on that one as it was uplifting for those characters.
I can’t leave out the art, as a lot of great artists came together for this one: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Chris Burnham, Marcio Takara, Diogenes Neves, David LaFuente, and Sumit Kumar cover this issue. It worked very nicely as there was a main story to bridge the memories together. The artist sdid a great job keeping a consistency to the book and blending of images so it wasn’t a distraction at all to the eye. The main cover by Lee Weeks is just so haunting and reminds us that Bruce has lost his father figure…makes me wish that we could’ve seen what Bruce’s memory would’ve been.