Alfred Pennyworth's return in Batman vs. Robin takes another surprising twist

Batman vs. Robin #2 art
Batman vs. Robin #2 art (Image credit: DC)

The second issue of writer Mark Waid and artist Mahmud Asra's Batman vs. Robin limited series is full of mystery and secrets - in more ways than one, as the bulk of the action takes place at DC's infamous dual-supernatural headquarters the House of Mystery and the House of Secrets. 

But the series didn't reveal all its mysteries and secrets yet, and is fooling around with the emotions of fans of Batman's loyal butler and father figure Alfred Pennyworth, who seemingly returned from the dead in the first issue and is now ...

... well, that would be telling.

Spoilers ahead for Batman vs. Robin #2

Batman vs. Robin #2 cover (Image credit: DC)

Colored by Jordie Bellaire and lettered by Steve Wands, Batman vs. Robin #2 in many ways goes where readers expect it, neck deep into the DC worlds of magic, as Damian Wayne's grandmother, Mother Soul, and the Devil Nezha have teamed up and are recruiting and empowering compliant magic users and stealing artifacts and abilities from heroes and villains that aren't down with whatever their agenda is.

The issue includes cameos by magic users like Jinx, Tannarak, Black Alice, Felix Faust, Zor, Clarion, Ragman, Cain and Abel (the caretakers of the Houses of Secrets and Mystery), and Waid even digs deep into his encyclopedic DC knowledge for the Kindly Ones, AKA the sister witches Cynthia, Mildred, and Mordred, hosts of another one-time DC horror anthology The Witching Hour.

The bulk of the issue serves as something of an expository catch-up for Batman, as he and Alfred are witnesses to vignettes to get the Dark Knight up to speed on what readers already know but he doesn't - that the Devil Nezha has been let out of the supernatural prison on Lazarus island he and Superman trapped him in as seen in the pages of Batman/Superman: World's Finest, and that Damian has been corrupted in the same manner many of Batman and Superman's colleagues were in the past during their duo's first encounter with him.

Batman vows to save his son, which is what Devil Nezha, Mother Soul, and the corrupted Damian are counting on.

The issue almost comes to an end with Daman being gifted a very al Ghul take on the Batman costume by his grandmother, which he dons as a symbol of his ascension into his "destined birthright," and as an accessory, he's also given his own army of 'Robins' which includes the presumably corrupted Nightwing, Batgirl (Stephanie), Red Hood, and Tim Drake.

But Waid saves an even bigger gut punch for last. As Batman articulates his plan to rescue Damian (without the help of Superman who is susceptible to being possessed by Devil Nezha), he thanks Alfred for always keeping an eye on him, to which Alfred replies, "Of course Master Bruce. That's what I'm here for," though he's got quite a 'devilish' look in his eyes and is casting the shadow of the Devil Nezha from the light of the burning House of Mystery in the background. 

Batman vs. Robin #2 page (Image credit: DC)

Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that isn't really Alfred and is the Devil Nezha or some magical shapeshifter in disguise instead. It could still be the real Alfred possessed by the Devil Nezha, but for the moment, his ultimate return from the dead seems more uncertain than it did in the first issue.

They'll certainly be more twists in the series's final three issues, and remember, Batman vs. Robin #4 leads to the big DC event Lazarus Planet which launches in January. 

Batman vs. Robin #2 is on sale October 11.

Damian ranks highly on Newsarama's list of Batman's best Robins of all time.

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.