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Detective Comics #96

December 22, 1944

"Alfred, Private Detective"

Right off the bat, I do love how the cover sports the headline, "Back the 6th War Loan!" We haven't had a story that was directly war set in some time. There have been some references, like Penguin stealing paper to publish his book in Batman #27 when there is a paper shortage, but nothing where Batman has had a hand in subverting an effort to undermine the United States' ability to fight in the war.

And then when you open the book, we get Alfred front and center on the splash page with Batman and Robin rushing up in the background. There have been brief Alfred stories in the pages of Batman, but from the looks of things, he's the star of this full-length story.

The story opens with Alfred asking to join Batman and Robin in their adventures. It's interesting to note he refers to them as Mawsters Bruce and Dick, yet they are in costume. I don't think he's done that before. They gently tell him no, which prompts him to ask for his month's vacation. A funny time to ask, but Batman agrees as the two gun off to capture Stoney Peters.

Shortly, The Duo attempt to stop Peters as he and his gang rob a loan business. Batman is shot with a flesh wound and the gang gets away. Peters knows that the police or Batman will now be on his tail, so he has the gang moved to the nearby town of Middleton. And that's where Alfred is spending his vacation where he has set up shop as a private investigator.

Peters poses as a banker and hires Alfred to follow a fellow banker he suspects will rob himself. What Peters is looking for and gets is a rundown of the man's routine which allows Peters to rob the banker's home. Alfred realizes his mistake and attempts to visit the banker.

Once there, he is quickly arrested as he was seen by the banker in his investigations. Meanwhile, Batman and Robin determine that the robbery had the makings of a Stoney Peters job and make their way to Middleton. There, they find Alfred arrested. He tells them of the shack by the docks where he met them to give them the information. After they leave, he realizes they also mentioned a houseboat. Alfred escapes from jail in order to get the word to them.

On the dock, Alfred is captured by two of Peters' men and taken to the houseboat. He is spotted by the Duo who follow. At the houseboat, the two are captured, but Alfred is able to disrupt things by swinging an oar he spots, giving the Duo a chance to round up the gang. With their capture, Alfred's innocence is proven and he is hailed as a hero. He even tries at the end of the story to once again travel with Batman and Robin on their patrol.

Another simple little story, elevated because it's Alfred and despite his clumsiness, he manages to come out on top again. And what's next, Citizens? We're back to the Sunday funnies.

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