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Spinning out of the tragic events depicted in DC's Batman #77-79 where Bane brutally murdered poor Alfred by snapping his neck, a new oversized anthology is set to remember the life and loyalty of the man who served the Wayne family for decades and whose influence touched many in the DC Universe — and SYFY WIRE is honored to present an exclusive peek inside the celebratory issue that drops on Feb. 12.
Written by veteran scribes Peter Tomasi & James Tynion IV and drawn by a solemn procession of artists including Diogenes Neves, Chris Burnham, Eddy Barrows, Sumit Kumar, David Lafuente, and Marcio Takara, Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P. #1 is a proper 48-page tribute to Gotham City's noble soul that helped forge the righteous path of the Dark Knight.
Told in a series of flashback chapters that illuminate just how much one person's life affects those around them, the respectful eulogy encompasses a wide range of Alfred's adventures over the decades and depicts Batman at a dire crossroads. With Alfred acting as the reliable glue that held the Bat-Family together, how will Bruce and his extended clan deal with the aftermath of his untimely death? Is the Caped Crusader capable of hanging up the cape and cowl for good, or will he unleash fresh hell upon the planet to perpetuate his vengeful quest forever?
Tomasi reveals that he and Tynion were looking to balance a somber, mournful tone along with a subtle celebratory one.
"There was no getting away from the fact that the Bat Family lost, in my mind, its second most important character after Batman/Bruce himself," Tomasi tells SYFY WIRE. "So an atmosphere of sadness and loss had to permeate the family at this juncture. It wasn't as if Alfred had died of old age. He was murdered in front of them while Bruce was away, and this loss had to be felt by the characters and, in turn, felt by the readers. A great deal of resentment and frustration has been building up amongst the Bat Family as the Pennyworth R.I.P. issue opens, and it's in these pages that we explore this hotbed of emotions directed now solely at Bruce.
"The flashbacks show how Alfred's sometimes subtle, yet sometimes right on the nose, dealings with the Bat family were a much needed emotional call-out. He strived to maintain the connective tissue to everyone's hearts and minds and remind them that they are indeed 'Family.' Another reason for the flashbacks is to show the Bat Family in uniform, in action, to balance the heavy drama and recriminations going on in the bar with moments of just how important Alfred is in the equation between the Family and the Bat."
Finding Alfred to be the beating heart of the Bat mythos, Tomasi believes the special relationship between Bruce and Alfred to be incredibly emotional.
"I was especially proud of the opening sequence in the Batman and The Outsiders Special I did with Adam Kubert many years ago," he explains. "In that, we really dive deep into the true father/son relationship of Bruce and Alfred and pull the curtain back and expose their feelings for each other after Bruce died in Batman R.I.P. Now, with Pennyworth R.I.P. and the Detective Comics Annual #3, I have a chunk of real estate again that I can use to peel back some layers and show not only how much Alfred meant to the Bat Family, but also how much he meant to me.
"I've always wanted to write an Alfred maxi-series, because I feel Alfred has so many layers and untold stories yet to be told. He's such a rich character with a backstory that has yet to be truly examined. That is why I also used Detective Comics Annual #3 to explore more of Alfred's backstory and a past love while juxtaposing it against the reverberations on Bruce of his recent death and a woman he once cared deeply for."
Now look back with great gladness at the life of Gotham's most influential gentleman in our exclusive 5-page preview of DC's Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P. #1, then tell us your most cherished Alfred moment over the years.