We are a little over a month removed from the end of the “City of Bane” event. Arguably the biggest moment of the entire “City of Bane” event was Bane killing Alfred Pennyworth. That huge moment is something that Bruce Wayne has only had a brief period to digest. Now with that event over we will finally be getting to see how Bruce deals with the death of his closest ally and father-figure in Detective Comics Annual #3. How will Bruce handle not having Alfred in his life anymore? Let’s find out with Detective Comics #3 Annual.
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Sumit Kumar (Who Dares, Wins); Eduardo Risso (The Week)
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Jr. (Who Dares, Wins); Eduardo Risso (The Week)
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Sometime ago someone walks out of a bank. As they are about to get into their car they are approached by two men who know this person’s real identity as Agent Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred kicks the guys in the gut and quickly escapes in his car.
Taking off his disguise, Alfred calls his partner, Agent H, to help with his extraction as he has the cargo they were looking for. After some witty banter back-and-forth Agent H appears in a jet ready to extract Alfred.
In the present, Batman saves a mother and their child from a burning building. He is able to get them both safely to some paramedics to check up on them.
After saving the day Batman drives off in the Batmobile. As he does that someone watches him from a nearby rooftop.
Back at the Batcave, Bruce looks around and sees how much of a mess the cave is. Rather than clean up he takes off his Batman gear and leaves it on the floor.
After taking a shower, Bruce opens his fridge only to find a note from Damien telling him he needs to buy more food.
Bruce goes to sit in the library alone in the dark.
As he is about to fall asleep someone turns the light on. The person introduces herself as Agent Marigold Sinclair of the MI-6. Agent Sinclair says that she was Alfred’s partner back in the day. She mentions that Alfred told her that she could come to Wayne Mansion if she ever needed help and had nowhere to turn.
She talks about the final mission that she and Alfred went on where she extracted him from enemies after he got some secret documents. Agent Sinclair reveals that the documents Alfred got showed that one of his closest friends, Mr. Kendell Pierce, was working for the Soviets. This left Alfred devastated. Due to his obligations to take care of Bruce when he was an orphan Alfred left the service before he could bring.
Bruce asks Agent Sinclair what she wants with him. Agent Sinclair says nothing but subtly mentions she also wouldn’t expect he or his friends help either. She then leaves Wayne Mansion.
Two nights later Batman goes to Agent Sinclair’s hotel room and finds a note with the name of the car to follow.
Batman spots the car and glides on top of it. Agent Sinclair takes Batman to a town where Kendell Pierce is stationed with several KGB agents. Agent Sinclair says she can’t risk being exposed but will be nearby if Batman needs help.
As Batman makes his way into an abandoned town he thinks about how he verified everything Agent Sinclair told him to be true. As he walks through the town Batman thinks about how when he was twelve, he went on a trip with Alfred driving through Old Route 66 and was allowed to drive.
Batman soon discovers a gun on the ground. He is then suddenly attacked from behind by the NKVDeamon. Batman is able to use his speed advantage to disarm NKVDemon. He then allows NKVDemon to knock him through a wall and drag him to where Pierce is located.
Inside a facility Pierce tells NKVDemon to tie Batman up with chains. Batman calls Pierce a traitor. Pierce said he never liked Britain as he found the Soviet Union to be his true home.
As he continues to talk Pierce is shot in the arm by Agent Sinclair. Pierce tells NKVDemon to go after Agent Sinclair.
Before NKVDemon can reach Agent Sinclair a chain wraps around his body. Batman shows that he was able to escape and quickly knock NKVDemon out with relative ease.
Pierce taunts Agent Sinclair with the memory of Alfred. Agent Sinclair gets close to shooting Pierce but instead shots the wall behind him after Batman whispers something in her ear. Agent Sinclair tells Batman to get the car so Pierce can get what is coming to him as a traitor.
Several days later Bruce finally cleans up the Batcave. As he does that he thinks of how proud Alfred would be of Agent Sinclair. Thinking of Alfred reminds Bruce of how much he misses Alfred everyday.
While putting books away at the library Agent Sinclair makes her presence known to Bruce. Agent Sinclair tells Bruce she wants to share stories of Alfred together. Bruce happily accepts the offer and starts listening to the stories Agent Sinclair has about Alfred. End of main story.
The Good: Detective Comics Annual #3 does a nice job in exploring the impact Alfred Pennyworth had in Bruce Wayne’s life. Peter Tomasi does a lot of subtle character work to hit home how much Bruce misses having Alfred in his life. While that is done well there is a feeling that there was some big missed opportunities to make Detective Comics Annual #3 a bigger celebration of Alfred’s impact on the Batman franchise.
Before getting into all that, Tomasi once again impresses with how he manages the dialogue and inner monologue throughout Detective Comics Annual #3 main and back-up stories. Tomasi understands how important visual cues are to the storytelling within a comic book. We see various examples of that with scenes like Bruce’s reaction when he sees how much of a mess there is in the Batcave.
The scenes in the Batcave did a nice job punctuating the state of mind Bruce is in. When we first see the Batcave we see how Bruce lacks any sort of care as he feels lost with Alfred. The state of the Batcave fed into the appearance of the rest of the Wayne Mansion being in disarray. That includes not having food in the fridge.
These type of things all build a clear narrative of where Bruce is at when it comes to the impact Alfred’s death left on him. Seeing Bruce and the Wayne Mansion in this state made the later scene when walking through the abandoned town Batman is reminded of a trip he took with Alfred when he was younger. This all built to the payoff of Bruce cleaning up the Wayne Mansion and then listening to Marigold Sinclair’s stories about Alfred be a fitting end to Detective Comics Annual #3.
Bringing in Marigold Sinclair as a person from Alfred’s past as a MI-6 is a good reminder of the life Alfred had before becoming Bruce’s full-time guardian/butler/close confidant. It’s not always emphasized but there is a lot to Alfred’s past that we do not fully know. Which works well into the fact he has had to keep a lot of secrets even before Bruce ever became Batman.
Marigold Sinclair was also able to remind us as readers how important being Bruce’s guardian and father-figure after Thomas and Martha’s passing was to Alfred. Bruce was truly a son to Alfred. He understood that Bruce needed someone to be there for him during this incredibly difficult time that left him an orphan. Leaving behind his MI-6 career before he could bring in his former friend to justice showed that there was even greater weight to Alfred taking on being the guardian and father-figure for Bruce than anyone knew.
Tomasi played this well with how learning about this helped Bruce start to heal. Bruce was able to break away from the shell he created for himself after Alfred’s death to be more open with others like Marigold Sinclair. While he won’t ever fully get over Alfred’s death, Detective Comics Annual #3 shows that Bruce will always be able to remember the happy times he shared with Alfred that will help him heal over time.
Through all this Tomasi was able to develop Marigold Sinclair as a fully realized character. While she did serve the purpose of helping Bruce better accept Alfred’s death, she also had her own arc. Without having to drown us with her entire past Tomasi was able to get Marigold Sinclair as a badass MI-6 agent. It’s clear her sense of duty and keeping secrets close to her chest was very important to her. The way she talked about her mission with Batman showed just that. Even when she almost lost control Marigold was able to regain her composure and not kill Pierce in the end.
Which made the ending of “Who Dares, Win” be an even more effective conclusion to the story. Seeing Bruce accept Marigold’s offer to share stories about the Alfred they knew was a very sweet way to end. It spoke to how Bruce and Marigold were able to forge a bond over the course of Detective Comics Annual #3 thanks to their shared connection of Alfred being in their lives.
The artwork from Sumit Kumar and Eduardo Risso was solid throughout both stories in Detective Comics Annual #3. They did their job in helping to tell the story Tomasi was trying to tell. Kumar’s artwork was more on the classic Batman side, especially when Bruce was wearing the cape and cowl. Risso also delivered on showing how much work put in to helping Bruce during his Batman adventures.
The Bad: As strong as the main story of Detective Comics Annual #3 was the back-up story was a big missed opportunity to do more with this comic book. Alfred Pennyworth has always been a father-figure to not only Bruce but the entire Batman Family. He has been the rock everyone from Dick Grayson to Barbara Gordon to Damian Wayne need in their lives. Especially considering how Alfred’s death is not being addressed in any other Batman related comic book Detective Comics Annual #3 was that chance.
Delving into Alfred’s impact on the entire Batman Family would’ve made the main story being about Bruce and Alfred’s relationship even stronger. Because we could’ve seen how through Bruce and Alfred’s bond there was this strong family that was created. Showcasing that would’ve added to how important Alfred was in helping Bruce heal from the tragedy of his parents death and be the man he is now.
Overall: Detective Comics Annual #3 does a good job in diving into the impact Alfred Pennyworth’s death has had on Bruce Wayne. Peter Tomasi presents a story that shows how the pain of Alfred’s death may not disappear easily the good memories are what will help Bruce heal over time. It’s just a shame that the back-up story didn’t explore the greater impact Alfred had on not only Bruce but the entire Batman Family. As is, Detective Comics Annual #3 is a comic that is more for hardcore Batman fans rather than the wider DC Comics audience.
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