The bell has tolled for Alfred Pennyworth. The longtime butler, guardian, and pseudo-member of the Wayne family was shockingly murdered by Bane in the pages of Batman #77, making the DC Universe a darker place as a result. For more than just the Batman family, too.
While writer Tom King always hinted there might be a death in his Batman run, few suspected one of the greatest father figures in all of superhero comics would meet his maker in such brutal fashion. Now, DC Comics is honoring their fallen hero by taking a deep look into the dark implications his death could have for Gotham--and Batman.
The next Batman writer James Tynion IV and Peter Tomasi will be taking the writing reins on the one-shot, titled Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P., while Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira and more provide the art. DC Comics has announced the issue will be a 48-page Prestige Format one-shot, with brief but bold description:
Alfred Pennyworth served the Wayne family for decades—even through the terrible loss of the Dark Knight’s parents. His shocking death at the hands of Bane is the only event that could possibly compare to that fateful night in Crime Alley, and it leaves Bruce at a similar crossroads. If Alfred was the glue that held the Bat-Family together, how will Batman deal with that all falling apart? And if the Caped Crusader is to be truly alone, he might either hang that cape up once and for all… or double down and carry on with this vengeful quest forever.
The issue will do more than deal with Alfred's tragic death, taking a closer look at just how Batman is reeling from the loss. In the most recent issues of the main Batman series, Batman and Catwoman have taken the battle to Bane. The conclusion to Batman and Bane's greatest (and final) fight in Batman #82 is one for the comic-history books, gloriously brought to life by artist Mikel Janin and colorist Jordie Bellaire. It as ended with a puzzling conclusion, but in a few issues the mysterious dust of Bruce's chaotic return will have settled, and Bruce will finally get some time to mourn.
Just as Bruce Wayne is no ordinary billionaire, Alfred is certainly no ordinary butler. A military-trained man of humble beginnings who would become the respectable servant, dutiful assistant, and adopted parent to both Batman and Bruce Wayne. There have been plenty of new takes on Alfred's origin story over the last few years, so fans still have plenty of stories featuring their favorite butler. While fans famously know that no comic book character stays dead for long, Alfred isn't exactly a galaxy-exploring superhero with celestial or godlike powers. And while Lazarus Pits and such magic might work, it's not exactly the "rest in peace" that Alfred Pennyworth undoubtedly deserves.
While villains both old and new have been haunting the streets of Gotham since King's run began in 2016, Bane has become Batman's true 'arch-nemesis.' While Scott Snyder made his mark with plenty of incredible Joker stories in Dc's New 52, King has gone a different, equally 'grand' (but more divisive) route. Now King is leaving the pages of Batman for a new Batman/Catwoman team-up series, handing the reins to the incredibly qualified James Tynion IV. But before he heads off to take on more of DC's Strange Adventures, he's left a mark on one of comics' most beloved characters.
Alfred Pennyworth has done his duty for decades, more than paying his due to the Wayne Family, to Gotham, and to Bruce. He's more than earned a peaceful rest... whether or not Bruce Wayne will allow him to have that rest will be the most exciting story to follow. Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P. will arrive on comic book shelves on February 12th, 2020.