Alfred Pennyworth: Lynn Belvedere Turned to 11
Posted September 8, 2009on:
Alfred Pennyworth might have the shittiest job in the world. More than just a butler, Alfred’s the guy the god-damn Batman relies on for almost everything. His gig is often a thankless one; endlessly making up alibis for Bruce Wayne’s whereabouts, stitching up battle wounds, and cleaning up after a cave full of bats? No thanks, I’m good. But there wouldn’t even be a Batman without Alfred.
But, um, ignore Pre-Crisis Alfred. He was an overweight (seriously, they sent him to fucking fat camp!), inept comedic foil hired after Bruce and Dick were already well on their way to being a campy sixties sitcom. Lame!
But Post-Crisis Alfred is where it’s at! Originally he was an actor, field medic, and butler for the British Royal Family who reluctantly came to serve Thomas, Martha, and baby Bruce at the behest of his dying father. After he taught Bruce how to beat the snot out of a school bully using strategy instead of mindless pounding, Alfred signed on as their permanent butler.
And then Thomas and Martha Wayne were gunned down. Now emotionally invested, Alfred stepped up to the plate and became Master Bruce’s legal guardian, obviously not knowing how daunting a task surrogate fatherhood would eventually become. Shit, upon Bruce’s death he even goes so far as to tell Superman that his “son has died.”
Bruce pretty much became Batman on his own (although he heeded Alfred’s strategic and tactical advice), but Alfred played a gigantic role in both the training and raising of the Robins; Dick, Jason, Tim, and (somewhat reluctantly) Damian – all of whom no doubt see him as a grandfather figure. Alfred Badass Pennyworth is even respected as a peer by the likes of Superman and Wonder Woman, at times even doling out sage-like advice to the demi-gods of the DCU.
Alfred is revered because he is willing to do anything in the name of servitude, loyalty, and, above all, the greater good. Also, he’s a fucking badass. During the No Man’s Land arc, he took over in an investigative capacity for an MIA Batman. He cared for a broken and battered Bruce after Bane paralyzed him. He threatened to quit as a means of talking Bruce out of doing further damage to himself. In his most heartbreaking show of love & respect for his adopted son, Alfred freaked the fuck out after the Black Hand dug up Batman’s remains in Blackest Night #1, blaming himself for the desecration of Master Bruce’s grave.
Needless to say, I am pleased to see Alfred serving Dick Grayson in the same capacity he did Bruce Wayne (their interaction through Judd Winick’s run thus far is phenomenal). Alfred Pennyworth is a character that cannot die and, if he did, I hope he would be mourned as deeply as Sue Dibny was, if not moreso. Should that happen, I (along with most of the DCU) would be thoroughly bummed the fuck out. He is timeless and, although respected by comic aficionados, Alfred is often disregarded by younger audiences. I think Jon has a great solution to this problem: “Will somebody tell me why there is no ‘Alfred Pennyworth: Year One?'”
Get on it, DC!