Warren Ellis Exploits Alfred Pennyworth to Channel Batman’s Critics


Ellis has always struck me as an overrated comics writer. Now, in a miniseries titled The Batman’s Grave (which may take place outside current pseudo-continuity where Alfred perished), it looks like Ellis has not only exploited Bruce Wayne’s famous butler to convey the beliefs of the Masked Manhunter’s detractors, he’s even got the blatant nerve to use drunken alcoholism to disguise a wretched viewpoint that’s an insult to every decent contributor to Batman, all the way back to Bob Kane and Bill Finger.
As seen in the 2 panels below:
He makes Alfred oblivious to how these “poor, impoverished people” Batman pursues happen to be criminals, with the most notorious in Batman’s world surely being Joe Chill, the hoodlum who gunned down Bruce Wayne’s parents (something that may have been retconned away during Zero Hour in 1994, which I think was ill-advised). It even teeters close to making a separation between the “poor” crooks and gangsters who could drawing them in. Then, in the 2nd, a bizarre contradiction is blurted out, where Alfred thinks it’d be better to just “kill them all”. It sounds vaguely like the time Bill Willingham made an embarrassment out of Leslie Thompkins post-War Games, concocting the “reveal” that the doctor let Stephanie Brown die to teach Batman a “lesson” in 2005, and DC presumably thinks this time they can get way with it because unlike last time, it’s not a woman who’s been denigrated here.

And all this out-of-character nonsense is done under the defense that Alfred’s drunk, I guess, even though it is possible for people under the influence to still maintain a modicum of coherency in conversation. It’s offensive because it makes it sound as though being a pauper actually justifies criminal offenses. It could easily have been written by a follower of the now defunct Occupy movement. If they really had to reflect the contemptuous arguments of the anti-Batman crowd, it should be through a character of Ellis and company’s own creation, not an established character who’s meant to believe in justice as much as his boss. I notice Ellis and his other creators chose to make use of the very lowercase lettering Marvel dumbed their books down on in 2003. This Batman comic stands out as the most recent DC book I know of to use that kind of lettering approach, and it’s just as lazy as many of the others.

And this Ellis-penned mini is nothing more than another example of Batman becoming exploited for liberal propaganda that practically insults every innocent millionaire, and ignores all the impoverished innocents attacked by the criminals of the same status in real life. Of all the DC creations that’ve been run into the ground for 2 decades now, Batman surely suffers the worst, and is by far one of the most overused in comparison to others. For heaven’s sake, put the Masked Manhunter to bed already; there’s plenty of other supeheroes out there who could use the focus he gets, and whose visions are far less dark too. Indeed, Batman serves as a leading example of how woefully overused darkness is in popular fiction.

Originally published here.

Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1