When you think about it Alfred doesn’t get enough credit. He’s basically necessary for Batman to exist at all or else he’d never eat, sleep, or get his gear in order. Alfred is the oil that keeps the engine greased and running and in Batman Annual #3 his struggle gets the focus thanks to writer Tom Taylor and artist Otto Schmidt.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
“THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PENNY!” Alfred Pennyworth has been Batman’s most trusted ally and confidant since the Dark Knight first hit the streets of Gotham City. Now, witness Batman’s battle for justice from Alfred’s perspective and learn how harrowing that journey has been as Batman experiences one of the worst nights Gotham City has ever seen–a night that will push Alfred to the breaking point! Best-selling writer Tom Taylor presents an epic tale that promises to be one of the most Alfred stories ever told!
Why does this matter?
We’re all suckers for sentimental Batman stories. From Tom King’s “Good Dog” Batman story to this, these stories feel meaningful. Batman is so
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue begins and ends with Alfred’s perspective, which is written beautifully by Tom Taylor. The first scenes depict Alfred in bed thinking about maybe moving on to a new job for the Waynes. Then he gets the call that changes Bruce’s life forever. This is juxtaposed with Alfred many years later sitting in bed not being able to sleep as Batman goes out on the prowl. Taylor does an exceptional job of capturing the love and care Alfred has for Bruce Wayne. He was a man of hopes and desires, but after that traumatic day his life, and Bruce’s, were changed forever. This story depicts Alfred in a way that is caring beyond belief. He’s a man who must wait up every night hoping for a call that is positive. It’s about a man who forever will remember the day he found out his employers were killed and hopes to never hear such a heartbreaking call again.
This issue isn’t only about Alfred and it has quite a few action packed moments for Batman. Taylor has crafted an interesting story focusing Batman’s attention on a new villain (which is quite clever) and forcing Batman to take to the skies. It’s an exciting adventure that comes with its own resolution and a solid foundation for Alfred to swoop in and be a hero himself.
I’ve marveld at Schmidt’s art over the years on Green Arrow and he continues to do a great job in this annual issue. Schmidt is very good at capturing Alfred’s calmness and his incredible caring. Even when he’s sharpening a batarang he looks concerned and focused. Batman looks great too and there’s some impressive explostion panels that will strike you.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
I wasn’t a fan of how Alfred’s fight scene is drawn. It’s a montage style full page of specific beats in the fight. It doesn’t capture the gravity of the situation but instead plays out what happened. It loses the impactfulness of the moment.
Is it good?
A fantastic issue that may win an Eisner when all things are said and done. It’s meaningful, heartfelt, and exciting. It’s a near perfect one-shot Batman adventure.