Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P. #1 Review

Boys to Men

Writer: James Tynion IV, Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, others
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: February 12, 2020

I have never been a fan of these specials when it deals with something that felt like it happened for shock value in the first place.  This issue feels odd in so many ways...timing, who isn't writing it, and information that has come out since.  I will discuss all of that below, so let's get to the review...

I guess it's finally time to put Alfred to rest, and while I was upset when he died in Batman #77, almost six months later, I have moved on.  I know that sounds cold, but with James Tynion writing Batman now, the whole City of Bane feels like a distant memory or a bad dream depending on where you stand.

Tynion and Peter Tomasi try to deal with the mess that Tom King left behind, and I don't just mean Alfred's death.  There was hardly any interaction at all with the Bat-Family in King's 85 issues, and Dick Grayson, the heart of the family, doesn't remember much after King had KGBeast shoot him in the head in Batman #55.  Tom King didn't do all the damage, though, as each of the former Robins and Batgirl each has issues going on that make this gathering feel off.  

My biggest problem with this issue, though, is the bad feelings that seep from it.  Sure, everyone gets to toast Alfred and tells a story about how great he was with them, but it always goes back to Bruce, saying nothing or next to nothing.  I understand the point of this is Alfred was the glue that kept the family together, but I don't have to like it.  If you are expecting a big group hug at the end, you will be disappointed, though the ending is the best part of the issue.

Also, I didn't particularly appreciate that Tom King wasn't involved at all.  I know some will shake their heads when they read that, but it just doesn't feel complete without him on this.  It makes me think of what he said recently on the Word Balloon Podcast...he wasn't going to kill Alfred in the end, but DC told him to do it.  I just took that as them wanting to get Lucious in the Batcave, which is the first step to getting Luke Fox set up to be the 5G Batman.  Maybe it was also so they could push out issues like this, and I am not beating around the bush...this is a 100% cash grab!

This issue seems like it is trying to show that without Alfred, the Bat-Family is falling apart.  I can see that being the case normally, but we haven't had a tight Bat-Family in years, especially in the main title Alfred died in!  Sure, this may be a stepping stone to getting it back, but give at least some ray of hope and not yelling and slammed doors!  I don't envy Tomasi and Tynion at all.  I believe they were asked to do this and did the best they could with this mess of a situation.  They even get a couple of shots in at King's expense that made me chuckle.

The art was a mixed bag, but leans more to the positive side overall.  I liked the choices of artists, but nothing had that wow factor these issues usually have.  Everything looks good, but I expected a lot more since I love most of the artists here.

Bits and Pieces:

While I think Alfred deserves a nice sendoff, this issue left me feeling sad and bitter...and mostly for the wrong reasons.  The timing and tone felt off, and the art didn't wow me either. The idea of the Bat-Family falling apart because of Alfred's death would be cool if we had a strong Bat-Family beforehand. I expected this to be an issue that I'd go back to in years to come, not one I could barely get through the first time.  



  1. Where do I begin? First, I'm glad Tom King wasn't involved in this he's done enough damage already. I found his run overall to be depressing.

    Now then, onto my other issues. I have to assume this takes places after whatever the hell is happening in Young Justice because back in Batman #71 there is a cameo of YJ fighting some samurai soldiers but Tim is still in his Red Robin costume. Does this mean he eventually gives up the Drake identity or do Bendis and King just suck that much? And I now realize this probably would have been a better question for Batman #71 or the YJ issue which reveals the new look but I can't be the only one wondering. Tim has appeared in the RR suit a few times since #71 which can't be before YJ since the cameo in that issue.
    The other continuity problem with Tim: his flashback was to the beginning of his career but his suit has two Rs on it. Are we still holding to the "he was always Red Robin" backstory from the New52 even though "A Lonely Place of Living" restored his pre-Flashpoint origin?

    1. They really don't know what to do with Tim in the regular Bat books and you're right...they keep messing him up anytime he shows up.

  2. I would have bought this 3 or 4 months ago, if the main Batman writer would have even cared to address Alfred's death in the main Batman storyline he was writing. This though, not interested. Grayson getting shot in the head and Alfred's senseless murder are 2 of the biggest reasons I am scaling back my comic book purchasing these days.