Batman Annual #4 – Tom King, Writer; Jorge Fornes, Mike Norton, Artists; Dave Stewart, Colorist
Ray – 10/10
Ray: Tom King killed Alfred. We all know it, and the internet is in an uproar – even if, as we all know, death in comics is not what it used to be. But if arguably the most important member of Batman’s supporting cast is gone for the time being, then it makes sense to send him out with Batman Annual #4, an issue that celebrates everything he’s brought to the character for the last seventy-plus years.
Surprisingly, this double-sized annual celebrates the life and contributions of Alfred Pennyworth with the character barely appearing on page. Instead, his narration is everywhere as he takes us through some of Batman’s most unique cases – that are simply the ones he faces day by day. There’s too many to count in this issue, with some getting three to four pages and some getting only a fraction of a page. And with each one, Alfred describes Batman’s thought process and what must have gone through his mind as he faced death and the unknown. It’s one of the best inside looks at Batman’s operation we’ve ever gotten.
Some of the most unique cases Batman faces in this issue include a high-speed chase on horseback, and a swords-and-sorcery battle against a dragon that keeps spawning smaller dragons. Some are more personal, like investigating the murder of an old friend or meeting up again with the woman who he spent his last night with before embarking on his training journey.
Some are down-to-earth, like the question of why exactly Batman got baited into a charity match with a champion boxer. Some are ridiculously over the top, like Batman staring down a cosmic entity that has decided to put Earth on trial. No matter how the situation changes, Alfred’s voice holds a consistent tone through the issue and gives us a great look at how Batman faces the impossible every day. As King’s run winds down, there’s been a lot of debate over some of his story decisions. But this issue is not only King’s run at its absolute best, it’s one of the best single issues he’s ever written.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.