Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Detective Comics Annual #3 by Peter J. Tomasi - Comic Book Review

From the publisher: Of all the mayhem and madness that "City of Bane" visited upon Batman's world, the death of Alfred Pennyworth had the greatest impact. As Bruce struggles to pick up the pieces of his life, the absence of the man who had always helped him is felt with devastating consequences. With new storm clouds brewing on the horizon, does Bruce Wayne have what it takes to honor his dearest friend's memory?

I have been behind in my Batman/Detective Comics reading lately, preferring to wait for the collected editions so I can have a full storyline to read. However, when I learned of the death of Alfred Pennyworth and that Peter J. Tomasi was going to write a sort of coda to his life in Detective Comics Annual #3, I decided to check it out. And I'm glad I did!

Tomasi starts the story off with a glimpse into Alfred's SIS days, and it's pretty cool. Very James Bond-ish from the normally fastidious butler. The story then jumps to the present, where a mourning (and emotionally lost) Bruce Wayne is confronted by a person from Alfred's past - Marigold . She was a fellow SIS/MI-6 agent and friend of Alfred's, and she brings Bruce a proposal: a chance to catch the "one that got away", a former friend turned enemy spy that Alfred never caught. Needless to say, Bruce jumped at the chance. A trip to the Ukraine, a fake American city used to train KGB operatives, and the NKVDBeast all make an appearance, as Bruce has the chance to help do something good in Alfred's name as a way of honoring him and dealing with his death. Tomasi does a good job of capturing Bruce's grief, as well as his other emotions. In addition, Marigold's character and relationship with Alfred add depth and resonance to the story.

There is a second, back up story that is a letter from Alfred to Marigold detailing his work week with the newly returned young Bruce Wayne. While the words of the letter accurately describe the action, they are somewhat humorous in light of the illustrations that depict Bruce's first attempts at crime fighting as Batman. It is a sweet and heartfelt letter/story, and a fitting tribute to Alfred, a man many readers (as well as writers and characters) considered the heart behind Batman.

Killing off a beloved character can be challenging for a writer, and often the aftermath of the death is left for other writers to respond to. Tomasi does a great job in keeping with the spirit of both Detective Comics and Alfred Pennyworth himself. This is a worthwhile read and a fine epilogue to Alfred's life.

I highly recommend Detective Comics Annual #3 by Peter J. Tomasi.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

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