Artist: Otto Schmidt
The latest Batman annual is a nicely done, but ultimately inconsequential story about Alfred Pennyworth and Bruce Wayne.
The entire story is framed from Alfred’s point-of-view. The different perspective is a great change-of-pace. This immediately sets the tone of the story: it’s a day-in-the-life of Alfred. Writer Tom Taylor really takes time to fill in the blanks of the butler’s daily routine. What does he do when Batman is out fighting crime in the middle of the night? How does he balance time between prepping the superhero gear and cleaning Wayne Manor? When does Alfred sleep? Taylor actually answers these questions and more. Part of what makes this story fun is how it addresses minutiae like this.
The other part that makes the comic satisfying is the level of emotional impact it has on Alfred. Batman is presented as this stoic block of silence. It can make readers feel cold following just Batman. Fortunately, Alfred is immediately sympathetic. You care not just for his well-being, but the relationship he has with Bruce. It helps that Alfred injects his typical dry, British humor throughout the story. The plot’s hook is decent.
Is it the most emotionally resonating story ever? No. Nor does it really give us new insight into Alfred’s character. It is well written and consistent, though.
While not the primary focus, the new villain Batman fights is not really compelling either. You can tell that the bad guy was a tertiary thought by looking at his generic design, but it’s difficult to really fault Taylor for this, since the superheroics in this tale are mostly peripheral. However, it does lead to making this story feel ultimately inconsequential, to me at least.
Artist Otto Schmidt does a fun job with the art. His facial expressions are the best part of the comic. Given that the story is all about Alfred’s feelings and responses, Schmidt’s art is a perfect compliment. His style does have a certain flatness to it, so while the art is effective, it is not poppy or explosive.
Ultimately the story is a satisfying one-shot. It does not add anything to the ongoing plot in the main title, nor is it groundbreaking. It is a perfectly decent comic that gives more background on Alfred.
Images courtesy of DC Entertainment