Recuperating in the Company of Friends

October 24, 2003

By Avi Green

Batman: Gotham Knights #42: 20 Days Less One
Writer: Scott Beatty
Penciler: Roger Robinson
Inker: John Floyd

We’re back to the focus on Alfred Pennyworth’s illness, caused apparently by a virus that apparently originated in the Batcave, where he may have spent too much of his time as an assistant to the Dark Knight. And he’s lucky to have only so many of his friends in the Batworld rallying round, including old girlfriend Leslie, a doctor by profession (and another one of the few people who knows Batman’s secret ID as Bruce Wayne), the current Robin and Batgirl, Nightwing, and even Oracle. And not only them, but even the JLA has a cameo in taking note of this matter and Batman’s absence because of this, and the Atom/Ray Palmer even visits to help out.

So, what’s the exact focus here? It’s on how everybody relates to the matter over a 20-day wait for Alfred’s recovery, in a number of sequences, with each day titled and focusing on a different occurrence in this course of waiting. Bruce feels that not only should there be a quarantine for everybody in the local Bat-family, but that even he himself can’t leave Alfred alone while this is all going on. So, he asks for Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern of earth, who now goes under the name Sentinel, to fill in for him in capturing the city’s crooks. Alan, from what I know, wasn’t just created by one of Batman’s original artists, Bill Finger, during the Golden Age, but may have lived around the area of Gotham City years ago too (and Jeph Loeb’s Hush story arc in the sans-adjective Batman this year even featured a fight in flashback between Alan and one of his old foes, Icicle, with a young Bruce Wayne watching).

Tim Drake, the current Robin, feels guilty that he may have been the one who passed along the sickness Alfred’s suffering from to the latter. He had once, after all, been ill himself, with perhaps the erstwhile “Gotham filovirus”, and had to be treated against it, and Alfred had been there almost all along to help him get through the illness. Cassandra Cain, the current Batgirl, buys him a get-well card at the stationary store. And Dick Grayson, the former Robin and now Nightwing, and Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl and now Oracle, also give him their best wishes. And the Atom comes in to help by shrinking himself inside Alfred’s body system to look for the cause of the problem, which apparently was caused by the bats in the Batcave, and discovers the virus inside that caused his illness.

Overall, not bad for an ensemble piece, although there was one page with a social worker visiting the manor that seemed too much like a throwaway item to me.

Batman, Nightwing, and Batgirl decide it best to use an anti-viral chemical conceived by Lexcorp and which Batman decides to steal from a Lexcorp laboratory in the area (as he tells Leslie, who accompanies him in the Batmobile, “he owes me.”), to both cure Alfred and to clean out the Batcave, shooing out all the bats that roost in there already. But don’t worry, such a step does not in any ways reduce the significance of the Batcave in my opinion.

And with that, Alfred slowly but happily recovers at the end of 20 days. But all’s may not be well yet…as what have we here, but what appears to be a scientist from S.T.A.R Labs who seems to have been turned into a half-human, half-bat kind of creature who somehow found his way into the place. Goodness me, what things the Batcave has that even Batman’s own immediate family doesn’t even know about! And a little something that may have to be resolved only in the future, if it is.

Black and White Batman: Gargoyles of Gotham
Writer/Penciler: Dean Motter

We tune in to an art exibition in Gotham that Bruce Wayne is visiting, which also features some gargoyles on display, where Bruce is chatting with two ladyfriends of his about them, and with the elderly architect who built them on the roof of one of Gotham’s prominent buildings many decades ago.

These gargoyles played a part in the Ashmore kidnapping case that Batman once dealt with a few years ago, and served as way for Bats to wind his Batrope around.

Overall, a pretty good dramatic item, recalling one of the Caped Crusader’s former cases, and with some fine dialogue between the characters.

Copyright 2003 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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