Jun 21, 2016
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 483: Batman and Robin #2, September 2009
Poor Dick Grayson. After the assured way he takes up the mantle at the end of Battle for the Cowl, he sees that becoming Batman and being Batman are two very different things. Of course, having Damian Wayne as Robin would be enough to tax the patience of event the most saintly (I wonder if there's ever been a Damian/Superman team-up?), so it's a good thing that he has the slight-yet-strong shoulders of Alfred to rest upon.
More and more as I read this run, I'm seeing Alfred as the quiet hero in the background. It's easy to privilege the costumes, but at the end of the day, or night as the case may be, to be able to come home to someone who cares for you with such devotion is fundamental to the mission. And Alfred's got a lot of other stuff going on. As I noted in the second issue of Battle, he's pretty good with the combat stuff, he's got an avid interest in detective fiction, and, probably most importantly, he's been the only real observer of Batman's methods since day one. How could he not have picked up some skills? And today's comic offers an Alfred who channels performance and performativity theory, telling Dick not to think of his taking up the cowl as a memorial -- "you and I know he'd hate that" -- but as a performance. "Think of Batman as a great role, like a Hamlet, or Willie Loman...or even James Bond." I've said it before, I'll say it again, Grant Morrison understands superheroes like few other people. Batman as the great, mad, rebellious son. As the trodden down remnants of the American Dream. Or as the rotatable master spy, different but ever the same. All three at the same time - and now with a little bit of the original Robin mixed in.
Have I mentioned how much I love this title?