Batman 216 – Alfred’s niece does Shakespeare

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Alfred gets some relatives in Batman 216 (Nov. 69).

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Robbins, Novick and Dick Giordano introduce Wilfred Pennyworth, Alfred’s brother, and Daphne, his niece.  And though it makes nothing of this fact, this story also establishes that Alfred’s last name is Pennyworth.  Alfred’s last name had not been used since the 1940s, when it was given as Beagle.  Wilfred and Daphne are touring with their Shakespeare troupe, staging Romeo and Juliet.

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Both Bruce and Dick are quite taken by Daphne, and Dick shows her around Wayne Manor.  There is a nice allusion to the tv show, with the Shakespeare bust that, in the show, opens the entrance to the Batcave.  In this story, the bust allows access to their safe, and Dick shows Daphne a rare Shakespeare manuscript that they have.

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Later, during a performance of Romeo and Juliet, Daphne leaves the theatre, heads to the Manor and teal the manuscript.  Alfred tries to stop her, but she pulls a gun on him.  She shoots, and believes that she has killed him, although the reader discovers that the gun was a prop gun, with blanks.

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Daphne had been forced to steal the play by two hoods, who threatened to kill her father unless she followed their orders.  To get her out of the way, her prop knife was replaced by a real one.  There is an enjoyable onstage climax, with Dick jumping into the performance and preventing Daphne from killing herself.

Daphne Pennyworth returns in a couple of issues, and there would be another Batman/Shakespeare story in another year or so, in Detective Comics.

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