In the present Batman’s plan goes horribly wrong, while in the past Alfred Pennyworth becomes a man.
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
So far Batman has felt All-Star but this may be the first arc to feel undeserving of the title.
This isn’t a bad issue by any means, it’s just a little dull. The scenes in the present are dramatic and feature all the Snyder tension readers have come to expect but the scenes in the past don’t feel interesting.
Alfred is a fundamental part of the Bat Family. Without him there would be no Batman. The comics have long emphasised this with Alfred taking up a supporting role both literally and figuratively. The shift towards making Alfred the central focus of an arc is a cool idea but it isn’t working yet.
Maybe in the following issues everything will come together but right now the pacing is off. The suspense of ‘how will Batman make it out of this one’ is always immediately killed by a flashback to Alfred as a young man. Personally I don’t want to see Alfred’s backstory. He’s always been that perfect character that alludes to his own experiences. This has worked because it means there’s never any need to retcon anything, Alfred has simply done everything over his lifetime.
Alfred as a punk in England isn’t working for me. I understand the way Snyder is comparing Alfred’s adolescence with Bruce Wayne’s return to Gotham but it’s not necessary. Alfred is every cool relative you have that tells you wonderful stories you wouldn’t dare question. Finding out the truth about said relative is never as fun compared to the stories they told themselves.
Albuquerque’s artwork is beautiful and lends itself to Batman perfectly. Likewise Bellaire’s colours are as fantastic as ever. I hope this arc improves or Albuquerque gets another shot at Batman because his art deserves a better plot.
Recommendation: wait for the trade