Once, long ago, Batman had a number of mentors. He learned theatricality and slight of hand from magicians. He learned to fight from the League of Assassins. He learned logic and criminal procedures in college. And his investigation skills were picked up from others he worked with before becoming Batman. In this history, Alfred served as the link to the Wayne legacy and basic humanity.
Not anymore. Now it turns out that he learned everything from Alfred. Call it the Gotham effect, where more than being the family butler and the example of a good man in the face of adversity, Alfred is now a former SAS, double 0 what’sit and the greatest secret agent to ever come out of Britain.
He’s now so badass that Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque makes sure he outdoes Tom Cruise on the first page of this issue. And really that diminishes both Alfred and Batman to me. Alfred is always at his best when he is the quite in the storm, the counterpoint to all the chaos in Batman’s life.
Now instead of Bruce having searched the world to find the best in all the strange fields that will be useful for him to Batman in ways that others won’t understand, Alfred his father figure is also his teacher in all things.
I will say that I liked the counterpoint that where Alfred was willing to let Bruce use the training to become something new and different, Briar doesn’t trust his son to learn the techniques and wants to cheat by make him into an exact copy of Alfred. I will said that nail was hit too directly on the head in the big reveal, but All Star Batman has never been about subtlety.
I will say that although the story failed to really grab me, Albuquerque and Jordie Bellaire’s art was exceptionally strong the entire issue. It really went far in making up for some of the plot stumbles. Thanks to the art this issue felt more like an 80s action movie than a superhero comic. There was great pacing and good sets so you really got some pay offs with the art.
The Russian mob story where Albuquerque and Rafael Scavone took on the writing and Sebastian Fiumara handled the art was the better story packed into this issue, although Batman played less of a direct role in much of the story. It was interesting to see Batman getting back to his roots and taking down mobsters in their home base.
I’m glad that this is the end of this story arc and really want to see where we are going from here.
The First Ally
Writer: Scott Snyder
Pencils: Rafael Albuquerque
Inker: Rafael Albuquerque
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Writers: Rafael Albuquerque and Rafael Scavone
Art: Sebastian Fiumara
Colors: Trish Mulvihill