If the world needs Batman, and Batman needs Alfred; then, by the transitive property, Alfred is the greatest superhero ever. He is of such importance that there has only been one Alfred, while many Robins have come and gone. Here we look at a few key books that would help start a collection for fans of Batman’s Batman.
The 1st appearance of a rather portly English gentleman and amateur criminologist named Alfred, at this point only with the forename, occurred in Batman #16 (1943). He journeyed to America to fulfill his recently deceased father’s wishes for him to return to the family’s calling of working for the Wayne family. Although Bruce and Dick are intent on sending Alfred away, Alfred proves himself useful when he discovers their secret and subsequently saves them when they are captured. Bruce is impressed with Alfred and agrees to keep the butler in his employ; and so, the crime-fighting duo became a trio.
The highest volume of sales for Batman #16 occurs, surprisingly, at the higher end; with the latest sale of note being a CGC 7.0 graded copy that sold for $5,655 in late 2018. The growth in value at that range has been more in line with a slow organic behavior versus the lower end of the grade range which has seen large jumps in the last year. Most of 4.5 and under, sold under the $1k level prior to 2018, but currently, sell near the $2k level. It is possible that the elevated sales prices are primarily due to the recent premiere of the TV series centered on Alfred. If that is indeed the case, it could be a good time to sell before prices fall back down; with greater risk of that at the lower grading range.
That awkward moment when you realize you only know someone’s first name, but not their last. Two years after his debut, Alfred’s surname was finally revealed as “Beagle” in Detective Comics #96 (1945) when he puts out advertisements for his private detective services. Unfortunately, Alfred gets in over his head when his first clients who hired him to investigate a suspected bank thief turn out to be the thieves themselves. Much like the book above, Detective Comics #96 also experienced a surge in sales prices the last few years; it just about doubled across all the grades.
The “Beagle” surname was used for over two decades as Alfred’s real surname until it was later changed/retconned to be “Pennyworth” in Batman #216 (1969). In the issue, Alfred is sought out by his niece who with the simple line of “my uncle – Alfred Pennyworth” completed the transition to “Pennyworth” without much trouble or any acknowledgment of the previous “Beagle” from any of the established characters Alfred, Batman, etc. Compared with the other books mentioned so far, Batman #216 is the most affordable; the latest sale of note is a CGC 9.6 that sold for $288 in late 2018. Interestingly, Batman #216 didn’t experience the same jump in sales prices as the other books, despite being the first appearance of the “Pennyworth” name.
It wasn’t until much later in Batman #677 (2008) that an explanation for continuity’s sake was provided in the form of “Beagle” was actually a stage name Alfred used when he was an actor in England. Talk about waiting a long time for some closure.
DEATH OF ALFRED
It’s worth mentioning that one of the hottest Alfred comics in the market is the very recent Batman #77 (Vol. 3, 2019), in which the City of Bane arc ups the ante with the death of Alfred. While this event is very dramatic, it wouldn’t be the first time that Alfred “died;” the first time being in Detective #328 (1964) before he was subsequently revived just a few years later in Detective #356 (1966). At the moment, CGC 9.8 copies of Batman #77 currently sell for under the $50 level; it would be difficult to see it ever rising to the prices of Alfred’s first (apparent) death.
“I will say one thing for your nighttime activities — you do tend to antagonize the most interesting people.” – Alfred Pennyworth
GoCollect is the #1 comic book price guide for tracking sales data of all graded comic books in real-time. Fair market values are now at your fingertips. Check out all the features at www.gocollect.com