The recently released The Batman’s Grave #1 by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch sees Alfred call for the murder of all criminals in Gotham City.
**Major Spoilers for The Batman’s Grave #1 Below**
Alfred’s call for murdering all the criminals in Gotham, comes after a day of reflection, where he took care of the graves of Thomas and Martha Wayne. While taking care of those graves, Alfred convinces himself that he will also bury Bruce next to them.
From there, the story sees Batman patrolling the streets of Gotham. He stops an attempted murder of an off-duty police officer, who just got out of a movie theater. He then investigates an unexplained death that the Gotham police can not get to due to a backlog of calls.
After performing an investigation of the crime scene and contacting Jim Gordon, Batman returns to Wayne Manor.
That’s when what appears to be a drunk Alfred Pennyworth confronts Bruce Wayne about his nightly activities.
Now, this is not out of the ordinary for Alfred Pennyworth. The character routinely worries about Bruce’s nightly activities and the toll it takes on him both mentally and physically.
However, the argument Alfred uses is completely out of character. In fact, Alfred’s words echo critics of Batman, who claim he’s fascist.
As you can see below, Alfred tells Bruce, “I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you what’s bothering me.”
He continues, “Some nights, all I see is an old soldier helping a very rich man to leave his mansion at night in his expensive car to visit horrible beatings upon poor people.”
Fortunately Bruce rebuts this idiotic idea telling him, “That’s not what we do, Alfred.”
However, Alfred doubles down. He tells Bruce, “Isn’t it? It might have been easier for you to BUY Gotham City.”
He continues, “Instead, you scratch away at it every night. Impoverished people forced into crime or suborned by gangsters with not a hundredth of your own resources.”
This argument is straight out of Batman critics. It’s not something Alfred Pennyworth, a staunch ally of Batman, who knows what he’s doing and why, would ever say even if he is drunk.
Steven Padnick at Tor writes, “It’s all those poor evil people. The one’s who keep crashing the gate, the ones who happened to be hurt in the hunt for profits. If it comes to a clash between the twit and the poor schlub they screwed over and disfigured, Batman tends to side with the twit.”
Matt Rea at The University of Alberta writes:
“For all of Batman’s iconic status as a man who stands tall among superbeings, his flaws make him unrelatable. He is a reclusive billionaire who beats up poor people. He has the means to fund the types of social and educational programs that would reduce crime; instead he uses his fortune to punch criminals.”
“Essentially, Batman lives out the fantasy of rich capitalists, pummelling the poor for their discretions while never investigating deeper financial crimes that have a more negative impact on society — or why someone would have to turn to crime for money in the first place.”
Sounds very similar to what Alfred tells Bruce right?
Fortunately, Bruce rejects this argument again. He tells Alfred, “They have choices.”
And that’s when Alfred goes completely off his rocker. He advocates that Batman kill off these “poor people” that Batman beats up every night.
Alfred tells Bruce, “It’d be easier just to kill them all.”
He then attempts to justify his call for murder by noting that they are waging war and it would be self-defense.
“I’m a soldier. When I was serving, I fought for my life and for my values. It’s not murder. It’s self-defense.”
This doesn’t make any sense. Why would you try and go after Bruce by telling him he’s beating up a bunch of poor people, and then not two breaths later, you are advocating killing the people you were lamenting Batman beating up.
Wisely, Bruce ignores Alfred telling him he needs to get to work on this latest murder, “I have to get to work. That unexplained death.”
Undeterred, Alfred then sickeningly attempts to convince Bruce to think like a killer.
“Here we go again. Can’t you just get into the head of the killer, like those detectives on television? Seems much easier.”
Bruce replies, “I can’t think like a killer, Alfred. I can only think like a victim.”
Alfred then mumbles to himself as he pours another glass, “You immerse yourself in the dead, Master Bruce. And you come back each time a little less alive. The only thing your grave is missing is a date.”
This whole interaction doesn’t make much sense at all. You can chalk it up to Alfred being drunk, but even drunks can still have coherent discussions.
In fact, according to Bleeding Cool, that’s how Ellis defends it. In his newsletter, he writes:
“It appears, by the way, that that book launched pretty well, so thanks for that. I hope that drunk Alfred talking shit at Batman brought you some amusement. Next issue: Alfred’s hangover.”
It was perplexing rather than amusing.
What do you make of this characterization of Alfred? Do you chalk it up to him being drunk?