This week from DC Comics we seem to have a slew of Gotham titles, both new and old. We have yet another series starter in Pennyworth 1. This seven-part series tells the history of everyone’s favorite butler, the one man who can talk back to the Bat. While only the first issue in the series this one does an amazing job telling a massive story in only 25 pages. It not only tells a great story, but it tells three as this story covers young Alfred, prime Alfred, and current-day Alfred.

A Tale of Three Alfreds

While Pennyworth 1 does an amazing job spinning all three stories together at the same time, it will be easier to take them one at a time. Young Alfred may not do a whole lot in and of itself, but it sets up everything to come later. We learn Alfred spent his days as a boy training to be a butler – exciting I know. It appears to be a role destined to control Alfred’s life, but this wasn’t just an average butler. He learned in the home of Her Majesty’s Treasury secretary. This allowed him to, as he put it, experience the world without ever leaving the estate. It seemed to be his destiny despite wishing to be more; However, his relationship with a young miss Shirley, the Secretary’s daughter, would change all that.

Shirley and Alfred grow into adults together, and their fantasies of becoming more than mere butlers come true. Both join MI5 on their own but manage to hook up and work together frequently. When I use the term “hook up” I do mean that in every way conceivable. Friends with benefits? Dating? Whatever you want to call it they were hot and heavy together both in the sheets and in the streets. I love the banter back and forth throughout their missions. It shows exactly how comfortable they are with each other as well as being funny as hell.

Their current mission brought them to some Russian ice breakers (ships). They thought they were meant to take out a possible nuclear threat. Instead, they encounter a genetic freak with biologically engineered guns for hands that shoot psionic pulses. Where do they come up with this stuff? While Shirley and Alfred make it through Pennyworth 1, I have a hunch Shirley will not make it to issue 7.

Pennyworth 1 – A Hopeless Mess

I wish the hopeless mess referred to Alfred’s relationship with Shirley, but sadly it deals with his present-day situation. In between his flashbacks, a few panels get snuck in showing Alfred’s current predicament. We do not learn the withertos or whyfors with the situation. Only that he is held captive by an expert that knows how to disorientate and confuse their hostages. Through his dialogue, we learn two things. One: his experiences give him the mental wherewithal to not get rattled. He faced tougher situations with MI5, so he could handle this. Two: his buddy, Davey Boy, shared an alert system. If either ever failed to check-in at the appropriate time, the other would come looking for them. Between Davey Boy and Bruce help was coming.

Then writers do an amazing thing in the last few panels. They show us another hostage, tied up and beaten. The little side note boxes Pennyworth 1 uses tells us this hostage is none other than Davey Boy. Guess He won’t be coming to Alfred’s aid. It also shows us how well the captor knows Alfred. Could Shirley be the captor?

Speaking of side note boxes, I love how this issue uses them. They act as Alfred’s little scribble notes that enhance what is going on, kinda like side notes in the margins. Some add flavor while others add a bit of humor. They make for a nice touch. I can’t wait until the next issue to see how Alfred gets out of all his jams.