Spoilers ahead for Pennyworth #1!

DC has revealed the true origin of Batman’s loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth—and it is surprisingly hardcore. In Pennyworth #1, a sequel series to the EPIX show of the same name, readers learn about Alfred’s past – specifically his childhood – and the trauma that motivated him to enter the world of intelligence. The issue is on sale now in print and digital.

Alfred is arguably the most important member of the Bat-Family after Batman himself. Not only is he Bruce Wayne’s butler and confidant, but he is also Batman’s medic and quartermaster. Over the years, Alfred has transitioned from being depicted as a bumbling fool to a cool and level-headed ally. It has been revealed that Alfred had ties to both the Royal Marines and MI6—the British equivalent of the CIA. It was there that he learned many of the fighting, technical and medical skills that would prove useful in Batman’s service. The EPIX show Pennyworth follows this era of Alfred’s life, and now DC has released a seven-issue sequel miniseries written by Scott Bryan Wilson with art by Juan Gedeon, colors by John Rauch, and letters by DC Hopkins.


In the present day, Alfred has been captured by an unknown party, and he draws on his intelligence and military training to begin planning an escape. As he does, he flashes back to his childhood. He was the son of the butler to a prominent English MP and was thus exposed to many prominent people in society. One day, while assisting the lord of the house on a fox hunt, a member of the party is shot. Everyone believes it to be an accident, but as he is dying, the victim mutters that it was not an accident and that he was murdered. Reflecting on the incident, Alfred realizes he learned that day that he will always be on the “periphery” of many bad things, including violence and death. This experience was profound for young Alfred and served as his motivation for going into intelligence—a path that would eventually lead him to Batman.

This murder was formative for Alfred. He learned lessons that day that would stick with him the rest of his life, through MI6 and into Batman’s employ. Adding this backstory draws another connection between Batman and Alfred: both witnessed a horrifying slaying and it served as the catalyst for the remainder of their lives. Alfred, being the son of a butler, had fewer options than Bruce, and thus he entered the military, and later the intelligence community.

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Alfred Pennyworth may be dead in the current Batman comics, but his presence still looms large, and now DC has revealed what it is that motivates him.

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