What is this all about?
This story illuminates Alfred’s past involvement with the “Nemesis” program and it’s leader Briar. Batman is loyal to his code, brave, as always, and vulnerable. Stunningly, Batman (Spoilers) appears to be subdued by a masked villain and left on the ground with two large slashes across his chest. This story is about Alfred’s past mentorship with Briar and how it impacts his current connection with Batman.
In this issue, we learn about Alfred’s mentorship with Briar and the nature of the training he received as a part of the Nemesis program. Participants in the program undergo extensive training in order to complete missions which support its ultimate aim. It is unclear what purpose this organization serves or its end goal. Briar takes on the role of father to his mentors. What becomes problematic is the unanswered question of why Alfred would be a part of this group.
We are made aware of the emotional toll Alfred carries being Batman’s guardian and assistant. In the opening sequence of the issue, a hotel owned by Batman is blown up throwing Alfred from an upper story. Batman jumps to save him. It is during the fall that we hear Alfred’s inner voice. He is begging to be left to die so that he could be free from Batman’s control. The dialogue is poignant, and the emotional cues are clear. Alfred’s dialogue enlightens us about his loyalty and commitment toward Batman and the commitment he made to his family.
We are offered a bombshell at the end of the book which cements our understanding of Alfred’s current relationship with Nemesis and its leader. Alfred is shown, during his investigations, learning that his own father was murdered by Briar. Alfred confronts Nemesis at the end of the book in a Rambo-like scene showing him draped in military gear wielding an automatic weapon. The dialogue is sharp, the art reflects the emotional tone throughout, and the stakes are high.
The drama is high throughout, the art is beautiful, and the backstory around Alfred’s training and family history is compelling. The book leaves us with the intrigue of wondering how Alfred will defeat a well-trained and organized militant group. It is clear that Alfred and Batman’s relationship is complex. Batman has always been so independent and singularly focused. Will Batman recognize the interconnectedness of his and Alfred’s relationship? It will be interesting to see this unfold as this story arc wraps up.
Reviewed by Tom Zimm
All Star Batman #13 the first ally part 3
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by: Rafael Albuquerque, pencils & inks; Cris Peter, colors; Steve Wands, Letters
Published by DC
Release Date: 8/30/2017