Not many people would use the term "punk rock" to describe Alfred Pennyworth, but in the new storyline that starts this week in All-Star Batman #10, writer Scott Snyder is playing with the idea.
According to Snyder, in the "Rebirth" era, Alfred is only about 58-years-old, so his youth was spent in the punk rock-filled streets of '70s London.
That's only one element of Alfred's past that will be defined for the "Rebirth" era in the new All-Star storyline titled "First Ally." Working with his American Vampire collaborator Rafael Albuquerque, Snyder will be exploring how a "first ally" from Alfred's past may be coming back to haunt Batman in the present.
Newsarama talked to Snyder to find out more about "First Ally" as this week's All Star Batman #10 takes Batman - and readers - to Miami.
Newsarama: Scott, you've got a new storyline starting this week, and you've changed up the backstory a bit. What can people expect from this week's issue?
Scott Snyder: All-Star is really about every arc - sometimes every issue within an arc - being completely different than the last. So with this one, what I really wanted to do was move away from the more, I think, cerebral explorations of each villain the way we did last arc. It was a great time, and I loved "Ends of the Earth." But I wanted to do something that had almost, like, more of a Batman animated feel? More Paul Dini-type, impulsive, you know, classic storytelling - fun, non-stop feel with a mystery.
So to give it an All-Star spin, we knew we wanted to take it out of Gotham, so I kept thinking about Miami.
Nrama: Yeah, why Miami?
Snyder: I have a lot of affection for that city from when I was living in Florida, and also, all of its cultural underpinnings are really fascinating.
With this, we wanted to do something where it was kind of a pirate adventure that takes place in Miami, and is very out-of-control and off-the-wall and involves a bunch of villains.
Miami has this incredible history and is also very much about its own youth and its own celebratory nature. And this story is largely about that as well. It's almost like, you know, the ways in which we sometimes distract ourselves from looking at some of the darker things that are there beneath the surface.
Nrama: You've mentioned to me in the past that this is an Alfred story. How is he at the center of this story arc?
Snyder: Yeah, the way I pitched it initially was, you know, we've heard so many times that Alfred was in MI-6, and he was an actor, and he did all these things. But what was his real past? From childhood in London to being the butler that we all know?
What was his time like in MI-6? What missions was he on? Did he have enemies there? Did he have friends? Did anyone train him? Is there anyone out there from his past that's still lurking around that he hopes is not?
Nrama: And I know you have an affection for the character as well.
Snyder: Alfred is a character that I adore. I relate to him deeply as a father who is constantly frightened for his son.
I love this story deeply. And getting to work with Rafael and Jordie is just a huge blast.
Nrama: The title of "First Ally" implies that it's about Alfred, since he's Batman's first ally. But does this also apply to Alfred's first ally?
Snyder: Yeah, that is exactly what it refers to.
In life, your first allies are your parents and your parental figures, but at the same time, we've never really explored who that was for Alfred. His father Jarvis was here in the states, working for the Waynes, and he was out in England with his mother, in London.
The other thing that was really fun was realizing the way things have moved…. Alfred's only about 58 in our mythology.
Nrama: Oh, by moved, you mean the age and history of the character right now?
Snyder: Yeah, he's about 58 or 59, which would put him as a kid in the late '70s and early '80s, as a teen. So it's very possible that Alfred grew up in, like, punk London, which is kind of amazing.
So there's a lot of fun to be had with his story, modernizing it and talking about what it was like for him growing up as an angry kid in London at that time.
I'm very excited for all the Alfred material in this one, and having him be the main character in this one, even though Batman certainly gets to play lead guitar and be on screen more than Alfred. The emotional core of this story has a lot to do with him.
Check back later with Newsarama to hear more about the plan for All-Star Batman going forward, why there's still a back-up story in this arc, and how this series and others will lead into DC's plans for Dark Nights: Metal.