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Bane is Going To Kill Batman's Greatest Sidekick

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Warning: SPOILERS for Batman #58

Bane is continuing his mission to ruin Batman by coming after his greatest sidekick - his butler, Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred is merely the latest (potential) victim as Tom King’s comic run with The Dark Knight becomes the longest, if not the greatest cat-and-mouse game between Batman and Bane.

Having already broken up Batman and Catwoman's marriage, and being heavily implied to be the one who ordered KGBeast to put a bullet into Nightwing's brain, which caused Dick Grayson to lose all his memories, Bane's latest scheme is going to take out Batman's last and strongest pillar of support. The good news is Bane is already meeting some resistance in ending Alfred’s life. After hiring Penguin to take out Bruce Wayne’s butler and father figure, Gotham’s slimiest small-time gangster has other plans... working with The Bat instead.

Related: DC's New Nightwing Takes Over For Dick Grayson

Batman #58 begins with The Penguin receiving said mission to take out Alfred, given to him by Bane in the supervillain's now-infamous subterranean prison lair (Bane remains very on brand in Tom King's interpretation). Bane makes the argument that Bruce Wayne has become a liability to the criminal underworld, and as retribution, his butler must be eliminated.

Oswald Cobblepot seems to agree to Bane's terms - the smart move - by hiring assassins, sending them to Wayne manor, and even lining Alfred up directly in their sights. But at the very last moment, Penguin reveals his true non-murderous intentions. Throughout Batman #58, The Dark Knight has been searching for the villain who's been making his life miserable ever since he served on a trial that forced him to admit Batman was wrong. It turns out that Penguin has been leading a direct trail for Batman to himself. While initially it seems like Cobblepot is doing this so Batman can watch the murder of Alfred, Penguin actually offers Batman a deal upon their meeting. Instead of ordering the hit on Alfred, Penguin tells his goons to kill each other, and tells Batman that they need to talk.

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Batman #58 leaves Penguin's intentions and reasoning for wanting to work with Batman a secret. Yet there are a few things that can be inferred from The Penguin's history, and the current state of DC Universe continuity.  Though the issue isn't explicit it appears that Batman #58 is taking place after Red Hood and the Outlaws #25, in which Red Hood shot Penguin in the face in hopes of killing him. In Batman#58 Penguin's obviously alive, but he's also wearing an eyepatch in the same spot where Jason shot him. Consider that Red Hood unmasked himself as Jason Todd before attempting to kill Cobblepot, and his survival may mean that Penguin has deduced Bruce Wayne is secretly The Batman.

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While Bane is fully aware that Batman is Bruce Wayne, that isn't knowledge he's spreading around in the supervillain community. Even when Bane gives Penguin his mission to kill Alfred, it's framed as striking back against Bruce Wayne, Batman's friend, not the vigilante directly. If Penguin has already knows that Jason Todd is the Red Hood, he could presumably know that Todd's guardian Bruce Wayne is his former mentor, Batman. If that's the case, Penguin knows exactly what kind of leverage he has on the hero by sparing Alfred's life at the end of Batman #58.

There could be any number of reasons why Penguin wants Batman to owe him a favor, but the most likely option is that the pint-sized gangster doesn't like playing second fiddle to anyone, including Bane. Penguin wants to be the real mastermind, and use Batman to take out Bane instead. He's coming to the metaphorical table with a lot of chips, too, by holding Batman's secret identity and Alfred's life as hostage. There's also every possibility that Bane, a legitimate super genius knows Penguin will double-cross him and has a plan to ensure Alfred's demise.

In other words, even though Alfred's life is saved at the end of Batman #58... everyone's favorite butler is still in a great deal of danger.

Batman #58 is available now from DC Comics.

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