Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The Best Team In Comics

In my opinion, the best team in comics is not Batman and Robin, the Justice League of America or the Avengers but Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth. These two characters have a deeply rooted friendship within the structure of a formal, traditional master-servant relationship. Alfred supported Bruce during his childhood bereavement.

The quintessentially respectable Alfred is often shown to be unquestioningly supportive of Bruce's entirely unrespectable habit of returning to the Manor through the Cave at 4.00 AM wearing the garb of a masked vigilante and needing medical attention that has to be provided by Alfred himself, not by any medical practitioner.

But Alfred can be critical. There is some amusing dialogue:

Alfred: Your accountants wait in the West Wing, sir.
Bruce: Tell them I'm sick.
Alfrd: Shan't have to lie. That refugee charity called...
Bruce: Write them a check.
Alfred: And the Committee for the Prevention of Obsessive Behaviour in Middle-Aged Men?
Bruce: Write them a check.
Alfred: Very good, sir.
Alfred: Your sense of humor is as keen as ever, sir.

(Frank Miller, The Dark Knight Returns, London, 1986, Book Three, p. 15)

And, in an early Legends Of The Dark Knight story, Bruce and Alfred, sharing a couch, watch a television report on the new bat-garbed vigilante. Bruce naked to the waist and expertly bandaged by Alfred writhes in agony. Alfred sits bolt upright daintily drinking tea and comments, "Oh, how exciting! It's like being in the employ of Bigfoot!"

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