Ok, let’s get through the details quickly so we can talk about this…
What: Batman #77
Who: Written by Tom King, with Art by Mikel Janin and Tony S. Daniel
Why: The next chapter in the “City of Bane” arc, where… well, I’ll get to that later
Worth $3.99? OH YES!!!!! TOM KING CAN TAKE ALL THE MONIES!!!!!!
First of all if you enjoy Batman, stories, words, or looking at pictures then you should be reading Tom King’s run on Batman, especially, the “City of Bane” arc. I firmly believe these issues will go down in history alongside The Long Halloween and The Dark Knight Returns. In the future, people in silvery jumpsuits will hold these collected issues aloft in front of large groups of holograms and proclaim this one of the greatest Batman Stories ever told.
Alright, if you’re not reading the series I’ll use this paragraph to catch you up (even though you don’t deserve it). Batman fell in love with Catwoman. They almost got married, but didn’t. Somehow, it was all orchestrated by Bane so he could take over Gotham, which he did with the help of a Thomas Wayne from another dimension where he didn’t die in crime alley and became the Batman instead. Our Batman has been badly beaten (a couple of times) and is being nursed back to health by Catwoman as all of Bruce Wayne’s Bat-buds are being kept at bay as The Flashpoint Batman has sworn to kill Alfred if any of them step foot into Gotham.
But does hotheaded Damian, Bruce Wayne’s son, listen? Nope. Of course not. He comes in, taking out a few baddies and attempting to face off against the Flashpoint Batman and quickly gets his ass kicked. He wakes up tied to a chair and his “grandpa” forces him to watch as Bane snaps Alfred’s neck.
Now, let’s take a step back.
Alfred Pennyworth first appeared in 1943 in Batman #16 and since then has been a constant in Bruce Wayne’s life. Other characters have come and gone, but, on the whole, Alfred has always been there. He’s a staple, a thread that ties the Batfamily together. Every Batman and Robin has had a deep connection to Alfred and there are very few incarnations of any Bat-related characters where Alfred doesn’t make an appearance in some form. Not only that, but the character just landed his own series on EPIX that is pretty damn good. And from a financial or PR standpoint, having a character with his own show usually coincides with the character being alive in the comics. So, killing Alfred isn’t just an emotional blow… it’s a bif Batfrickin’ deal!
Is Alfred really dead?
Usually in comics, TV, film, books, and any other media… when a character is about to be killed off they are given a moment to shine or connect with the audience in someway. In this comic however, Alfred appears in two panels, the one in which his neck is snapped and another on the following page, a wide shot to show he is dead.
Would DC really let a character with such a long and storied history as Alfred be left to die so unceremoniously like this? Would EPIX shovel money at a show with no reflection in the comic book world?
I would guess no.
But then again, Tom King isn’t exactly known for pulling his punches.
Oh yeah, and the art is pretty sweet, too.