Back in Batman #77, writer Tom King hit readers with a devastating twist when Bane killed Batman's loyal and beloved butler Alfred right in front of a captive Damian Wayne. Since that shocking moment, fans have been wondering first if the dead was in fact real and second, if so, would it actually "stick" and leave the fan-favorite character dead for the long run. In Wednesdays Batman #81, however, we may have gotten the answer about Alfred's fate -- depending on how you read the issue.
Spoilers for this week's Batman #81 below.
In this week's issue of Batman we find out that pretty much everything we've read since issue #50 has been part of Batman/Bruce Wayne's plan. It's kind of a lot to take in as you read the issue. Not that Batman hasn't played a very long game before. Batman does this plenty, but this is by far the most elaborate. Literally everything we've been experiencing with Bruce was all part of his plan to first get a super-venom away from Bane and, then, putting things into motion where he would be able to get it back which leads us to roughly where we are now. Key parts of the whole plan involved Damian getting caught so that, ultimately, the rest of the Bat Kids could come in and pretty much beat Thomas Wayne down, leaving Batman clear to deal with Bane.
Unfortunately, it's hinted at that Batman is unaware that Alfred was killed by Bane. While the assembled Bat Kids are fighting Thomas Wayne, it's revealed that they debated among themselves letting Bruce know that Alfred had actually been killed, something Bruce hadn't planned for, and let him come deal with Thomas himself. They ultimately decided not to do that, opting to give Thomas hell on for their own grief in the matter. That aspect of the story feels pretty direct: Alfred really did die, despite Bruce's best-laid plans.
However, the issue does offer another possibility. We find out that Bruce had tasked Clayface with remaining in the city as a "caretaker to watch over, report back" for Batman and "ensure that the worst atrocities were not realized". As Clayface can shapeshift, many readers are assuming that he posed as Alfred. It's possible he did impersonate Alfred on a highly convincing level and could have appeared to have die. But the issue isn't completely clear on this, and there's more than just the Bat Kids believing Alfred to be dead that could indicate Alfred is truly gone. Thomas Wayne manages to get the upper hand and escape. That doesn't appear to have been part of Bruce's plan and, if so, it's possible that this may be one time when Batman bets it all -- and loses.6comments
Okay, now it's your turn. How did you read the Alfred issue in Batman #81? Let us know in the comments below.
Batman #81 is available now.