Well, well, well. Look who's back.
Alfred, the faithful butler.
Tom King's killing off of Alfred--by Bane (of course it was Bane)--was one of the final straws that put a stop to my reading any comics. It was a sure sign that there were no adults at home at DC any more and that the children were running amok, breaking toys and setting fire to things just see what would happen.
Tom King was about five years old when at Marvel Comics the Kingpin put Matt Murdock through the ringer during Frank Miller's run on Daredevil, creating the template for "a great story is when you break a hero down as much as possible". Or at least that was the takeaway for less talented writers than Frank Miller.
It must have made an impression on little Tommy because those less talented writers certainly includes Tom King, who probably swore on the graves of his parents to do the same thing to Batman when he grew up. Since Batman is a greater character than Daredevil, that would make him a greater writer than Frank Miller!
|I also assume young King killed his parents so that he could make this vow. And because he believes you can't be great unless you suffer and other people die for you. No wonder the CIA snapped him up.|
And so he did. He made Batman an emotional basketcase, set up a wedding fake-out that would have shamed a telenovella writer, and, when he was running out of barns to burn, used Batman's most lazily-conceived villain to kill one of comics most beloved, well-known, and long-standing supporting characters, purely for shock value.
|LITERALLY long-standing. Have you ever seen Alfred sit down? It's his super-power.|
Now, look; Alfred's been dead before. I remember the last time (well, now it's 'the first time', I suppose). Motorcycling bad-ass Alfred died heroically sacrificing HIMSELF to save Batman & Robin because OF COURSE that's how he would die. Detective Comics #328 (1964):
|I should rather think Alfred would make more of a "squish" |
but that would probably have set the wrong tone.
So there was an in-story reason that Alfred died. And there was a real-world reason to: so that the writers could bring in Aunt Harriet to make Batman seem less gay. Is that a good reason? Does it make sense? Obviously not. It was achingly stupid.
But at least it had a purpose, compared to Tom King's use of Bane to murder Alfred. Tom King is just playing Angry Greek God: he just wants to see Batman suffer.
|If you're a bigger asshole to heroes than Mr. Mxyzptlk is, should you really be writing comics? |
Because Tom King will not try being guilty for a while, I assure you.
Even if I could forgive being gratuitously dickish to Batman for shock value, I would draw the line at using BANE. Really, I don't want to say a bad word about (Bane creator) Chuck Dixon, but Bane leaves me little choice. Everything about him is absurd (and not in a good way). The Mexican wrestler get up, the cheesy origin, the utter lack of motivation as a Batman villain. All of it is made 1000 ties worse by his creation as The Villain to Outvillain All Other Villains, when he's obviously much more like disposable muscle hired by an ACTUAL villain.
|Even Joel Schumacher knew that.|
Bane BEGS to be taken seriously and writers of Bane beg for you to take him seriously. You know who doesn't beg to be taken seriously? SERIOUS VILLAINS. Think of most versions/portrayals of, say, the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler. PLEASE underestimate me, they say. Look how goofy I am! Right before they murder the **** out of you. That's what makes them scary; they don't give a hoot what you think about them.
You know who else begs to be taken seriously? Tom King. So of course he had to use Bane; they are two of a kind.
|This is how you really do it, TK.|
I suppose I'm not being fair to Tom King for ruining Batman; it's a limited view of his work. He's ruined other characters, too, mostly notably Wally West.
|All things considered, "ruining Wally West" is a VERY impressive accomplishment.|
Nobody who was in Heroes in Crisis came away unsullied; even the robot therapists had to be scrapped. Robot therapists; where'd you'd get those from, Tom; Professor Ivo?
|Like Professor Ivo, Tom King believes the JLA must be punished.|
People like Tom King are the reason Vibe died.
So, thanks to Tom King's thirst for blood and fame, harmless, humanizing Alfred has been missing for, what, two years now; three? But the adults like Mark Waid are back home from date night and ready to put the house back in order, no matter what absurd plot devices (Demonic Damian! Jakeem Thunder! Tim Who Remembers Me Hunter!) are required.
|Never despair, Batfans. Because there is always Superman. |
And as long as there is Superman, there is Mxyzptlk.
And Mxyzptlk implies Bat-Mite.
And through Bat-Mite, anything can be fixed;
he's here to help.
I can't honestly say I'm looking forward to reading Batman vs. Robin #1 (because Damian is truly the Tedious Character Find of 2006), but I certainly welcome Alfred's return. Batman's world hasn't been the same without his snappy comebacks, his dry wit, and his ability to put Bruce in his place.
|You know who actually originated that characterization of Alfred?|
I would also welcome the return to sanity I hope it signals for DC editorship.
|Hey, look, he's sitting down.|
The King is dead.
Long live the Butler.