Sunday, December 20, 2009

Alfred Pennyworth...Superhero!

Christmas is almost upon us and as the spirit of the season permeates the air we see more and more reminders of just what the holiday really means. One of the nicer stories that I have come across recently that illustrates that one not be SUPER to be a hero is to be found in the current Batman 80 page giant on sale now. This years Annual has reverted to the formula that was popular during the Silver Age. It is not a single story but a series of shorter tales wrapped around a theme. While it is not explicitly stated, this years Batman 80 Pager centers around Christmas.

Much to my delight Alfred Pennyworth, the erstwhile butler and father figure to The Batman, stars in his own story entitled “Pure As The Driven Snow”. It is written by David Tishman and wonderfully illustrated by Alex Konat (who obviously has a crush on a young Teri Garr). The story concerns Alfred’s friendship with a young prostitute named “Rose” but who’s real name turns out to be Rhonda. In the aftermath of a crippling blizzard, Alfred picks his new friend up and takes her to The Wayne Foundation Ball for underprivileged children. This is fitting as Rose is very much still a child herself and certainly underprivileged. At the Ball, Alfred treats Rose to an evening as a “princess” and even stands up for her honor (in a somewhat comic manner)when some of the OVERPRIVILEGED make untoward remarks, challenging her honor.

Later Alfred provides Rose with new clothing, more in keeping with a young college age girl and a ticket back home to Sioux Falls where she hails from. Alfred is giving her a chance at getting her life back. At the bus station Rose reveals to Alfred that she is shocked that someone would do so much for her and want nothing in return. This has never happened to her before. Alfred tells her that he does it to honor the memory of his best friend who had died (Bruce Wayne).

It is a simple story, a vignette really, but it illustrates that compassion is the greatest super power that anyone can possess. Alfred is the perfect character with which to illustrate this point as he has always put the needs of others before himself. Like Bruce/Batman, Alfred also knows that the redemption of a single person is as great as a victory over the most vile super villain.

“Pure As The Driven Snow” is a perfect Christmas story. Konat captures something in the eyes of both Alfred and Rose that puts a lump right in the readers throat. It is one of the very few comic book stories that WILL bring a tear to your eye. The storytelling by Tishman is simple and touching. There is no wasted dialogue and no unnecessary artwork. In it’s ten pages we learn to empathize with both of these characters.

This time, the good guys win.

Batman 80 Page Giant #1 is a great all around book and is worth the purchase price just for the privilege of reading “Pure As The Driven Snow”.

Merry Christmas…Happy Holidays… everyone…and do try to stop by Comic Book Jones to say “hi”. I can guarantee that it is one of the “warmest” places to be around the holidays!
Until next time…

That’s 30!


No comments: