Review – Pennyworth #1: Before the Bat

Comic Books DC This Week
Pennyworth #1 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Pennyworth #1 – Scott Bryan Wilson, Writer; Juan Gedeon, Artist; John Rauch, Colorist

Ray – 8/10

Ray: The Pennyworth TV series is one of the most obscure bits of DC history, pairing a just-out-of-the-service young Alfred with a young Thomas Wayne on spy adventures long before the man who would be Batman is even born. So I was a bit surprised to see it get a comic book spin-off—especially as the man starring in it is currently dead in the comics. I can’t judge how it works as a comic book adaptation of a TV series, but as an Alfred adventure, it works pretty decently to tide over his fans. The story takes place in three timelines—the far past, with Alfred as a boy living on the estate of the man his father serves; the relative past, with Alfred as a young spy deeply in love with his partner in the field Sophie as they hunt cold-war era plots; and the present day, with Alfred as the Bat’s butler—now captured and held prisoner in Russia, as he calls on all his spycraft to get him out.

The master spy. Via DC Comics.

That raises an interesting question—is this in continuity? Probably not, but the timing is a little odd since Alfred being held captive is a common theory about his eventual return, and this version of Alfred looks and acts a lot like the comic book version. The framing segments, both in the present and the past, are the best. We’ve never seen anything about Alfred’s youth before to any extent, and a scene involving a hunting accident adds some great intrigue. The spycraft segments are a bit more thorny, without a great grasp of world politics. A reference to the Mossad collaborating with the USSR doesn’t really pass the smell test—the two were largely bitter enemies. These segments are action-packed and have some fun banter, but feel much more like a James Bond story than anything else. Overall, it’s an intriguing start to a rare solo spotlight for one of comics’ best supporting cast members.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

Liked it? Take a second to support GeekDad and GeekMom on Patreon!