Tom King’s Batman run featured a moment where even King himself was somewhat surprised as he was essentially told he could kill off Alfred Pennyworth. Sure enough, by the end of King’s run, Alfred was dead. This special issue apparently came out early in writer James Tynion’s own Batman run, showing the sense of mourning among the different members of the Bat-family.
Issue: Batman-Pennyworth RIP #1, February 2020
Writers: James Tynion IV and Peter J Tomasi
Artists: Eddy Barrows, Diogenes Neves, Marcio Takara, Chris Burnham, David Lafuente, and Sumit Kumar
The Plot: Alfred is laid to rest.
Commentary: So, the format here is this: after Alfred’s funeral, the Bat family assemble in a closed diner and reminisce about Alfred, each reacting differently, but Bruce sits there silently the entire time. Starting with Damien and then going through Tim, Jason, Barbara, and finally “Rick” Grayson (apparently this is during Dick’s amnesia period). Each has a story about what Alfred did for them, all drawn by a different artist, and after every story is over, the teller turns and leaves the diner until only Bruce is left alone.
Now, it occurs to me that I haven’t seen too much of Bruce’s various partners and sidekicks during Tynion’s run, and I suspect the reason is this issue here with the implication being that Alfred was the one who held the group together. The different reactions all fit the different characters. Damien blames himself. Tim wants Bruce to ask for help. Barbara gets angry. Jason is basically Jason. And then there’s Rick, who has a story of Dick’s and the general feeling that if he was Dick, he could have somewhat kept everyone together. But he isn’t, so he can’t.
That is basically the story, and yes, I am telling more than I usually do, but an issue like this is less about plot and more about character. This issue mostly worked. It gives a good explanation for why Alfred matters to all of the characters except for Bruce because, well, we all know what Bruce’s thing with Alfred was, right? But what did Alfred do for the others? That’s a whole different story. Good work there.