[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
We go back to the infamous night wherein Thomas and Martha Wayne were gunned down. Alfred Pennyworth was back at Wayne Manor planning out the next stage of his life when he received the phone call informing him of the Wayne’s fate. In the present, Batman suffers from the flu, hasn’t slept in two days, but still refuses to go back to the manor and rest. This worries Alfred, who won’t sleep until Bruce comes home. Meanwhile, a new rogue calling himself the Drone terrorizes Gotham with UAV drones.
Batman Annual #3 spotlights the most loyal butler in comics (sorry, Jarvis), Alfred Pennyworth. The story chronicles how far Alfred is willing to go in order to both support Bruce and keep him alive.
Alfred has always been among the most endearing and lovable characters in the Batman mythos (which is admittedly a canon full of killers, psychos, and grimdark heroes). It’s nice to see an Annual devoted to Alfred, and Tom Taylor succeeds in making it as sincere and charming as it needs to be. There are solid one-liners, Alfred’s passive-aggressive wit is on full display, and Bruce shows Alfred the appreciation the beleaguered butler so desperately deserves.
The Drone, despite having such a banal name and somewhat undercooked mask and costume, actually has a compelling backstory to him. This could be an interesting Batman villain if he ever returns and is given a bit more fleshing-out.
Otto Schmidt delivers the art and color art on this one, and he may just have been the perfect choice for the comic. His style can render the dark and oppressive atmosphere of Gotham with some of the more fun, humorous, or all-around cartoonish qualities of Batman, Alfred, and the world they inhabit. He nails Alfred’s judgemental and sassy side-eye glances. The color palette shifts and changes with the tone of the book, giving each scene the appropriate visual atmosphere.
Batman Annual #3 is an endearing homage to the ever-devoted Alfred Pennyworth that succeeds through a mixture of humor, sincerity, and moments of intensity. Tom Taylor and Otto Schmidt work together to create a brilliant one-off story that shows just how much Alfred gives up for Bruce and how much Bruce appreciates it, if only he could just acknowledge it a little more. This one definitely earns a recommendation. Give it a read.
Batman Annual #3 comes to us from writer Tom Taylor, artist Otto Schmidt, letterer Troy Peteri of A Larger World Studios, and cover artist Bryan Hitch with Alex Sinclair.