The Batman family has faced many enemies over the years, but the rise of Bane in DC's Universe has just changed them forever. Batman may end up saving the day and defeating Bane once and for all… but it's too late to save his beloved butler.
This history-making news will be hard for fans to accept if they fell off around Batman's failed wedding to Catwoman--a tragic twist masterminded by Bane himself. Having famously broken his back to no success, Bane set out to break Batman's heart instead. But with Batman and Catwoman reunited and plotting to take Gotham back from Bane's army of villains, his nemesis has found an even better way to break not only Bruce Wayne's heart but every reader's, too... by killing Alfred Pennyworth.
Bane's Killer Promise To The Batman Family
Once fans hear what has transpired in the pages of Batman #77 they are going to want every detail, no matter how grim, leading up to the fateful page. Fans don't need to go back and read every issue to catch up, but accept that… Bane truly defeated Batman. In the dark knight's defense, Bane may not have been able to pull it off without help from Thomas Wayne, the Flashpoint Batman now transplanted into the main DC Universe. Bruce's father had his reasons, taking the vanquished Batman and Martha Wayne's body into the desert to force a family reunion (which Bruce luckily foiled).
Now, Thomas has returned to act as the Batman of Gotham City completely subservient to Bane's venom-fueled command. Tracking down the villains who are trying to evade service to Bane isn't all that different from Thomas's normal patrols, with one key difference: "villains go down, heroes go out." But for the members of the Batman Family who might be tempted to infiltrate the city, Thomas and Bane have made a very different promise. One relayed to Damian by Tim Drake… who promptly ignores it to attack Thomas the first chance he gets. The promise? If a Bat appears in Gotham, Alfred dies.
Damian Wayne Breaks Bane's One Rule…
Heroes like Tim Drake, Damian Wayne, and Barbara Gordon may be able to evacuate the city in a matter of minutes, but Bane and Thomas claimed the one hostage that a Bat hero simply couldn't endganger. At least that's how Tim described the situation to Damian when trying to talk him down in Batman #76. If they try anything, Alfred dies--it's the perfect move for Bane to make, like so many before that led to this very victory. Unfortunately for everything be involved… this is Damian Wayne we're talking about. And no villain will ever be as interesting to Damian as the odd Batman of another world who managed to beat his unbeatable father.
It's an entertaining fight, with Thomas Wayne as stoic as ever now that he's finally met his grandson--seemingly knowing exactly what kind of son the Batman would raise. But while scoring some points against Thomas for betraying this universe's Bruce (pointing out Thomas couldn't save his own wife, let his entire universe die, etc.), it is Thomas who wins their fight. And as Damian loses consciousness, his grandfather asks if he knows what must what happen. Bane and Thomas had very different reasons for breaking Bruce, but one thing they both have in common is that they are men of their word. Which is bad news for Damian… and even worse news for Alfred.
...So Bane Breaks Alfred Pennyworth
There are almost no words to describe the scene Damian wakes up to witness, Thomas voicing his regret that their word must be kept, and Alfred Pennyworth urges not to have this done in front of the boy. Thankfully the act itself isn't drawn out, with a single image showing Alfred tied to a chair, and Bane's massive hands snapping his neck. Damian is in an even more intense state of shock than fans will be, but there's no getting around it: Bane promised to kill Alfred if Batman's family couldn't stay out of Gotham, and Damian finally realized there are some villains you shouldn't mess with.
The heartbreaking murder of Alfred has caused DC Comics to actually sell out the distributor, with fans clamoring to get their own copy of Batman #77. As always fans will hold a sliver of hope that Alfred isn't really dead… but given Bane's mission to destroy Batman thus far, and the issue concluding with Damian becoming the next to be murdered should a Bat-hero show their face, it seems like a long shot. Which means Batman fans must now wonder what the comic book version of Gotham will be without Alfred playing his usual role. And what Bruce Wayne will do to Bane when he finds out what he's done...and that his hands are now wrapped around the neck of Bruce's son.
However the "City of Bane" event concludes, this may be the crushing death that Tom King's entire run on the book was building towards. Which means Alfred's death, while tragic, was a moment over 70 issues in the making. It doesn't make us miss him any less, but we suppose that's something. Fans can read the full credits and plot synopsis for the issue below:
- Batman #77 (2019)
- Written by: Tom King
- Art by: Mikel Janin, Tony S. Daniel
- “City of Bane” continues! The last of the independent villains are on the run, leaving Gotham City entirely to Bane and his cronies—including Flashpoint Batman and Gotham Girl! Though this means a semblance of peace on the streets, the iron grip of tyranny is squeezing all life out of Gotham. And with Bane’s machinations keeping other heroes out, the city really needs the Batman to return. Is Bruce Wayne ready to face his toughest foes yet—his father and the man who broke his back?
Batman #77 is likely sold out by now at your local comic book shop, but we would urge fans to double check. Odds are this piece of Batman history is only going to become more of a collector's item as the story concludes. or direct from DC Comics. Batman #78 will arrive to either confirm or refute the death of Alfred Pennyworth in September.