WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Batman Universe #5 by Brian Michael Bendis, Nick Derington and Dave Stewart, in stores now.
In his time as the loyal butler to Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth has seen some stuff. He has had the misfortune of patching up Batman after numerous near-death experiences, has been threatened by nearly every Gotham-based villain imaginable and seen the Bat-family come and go. He has certainly earned the right to be scared by some of it. However, after watching Bruce defy death after getting shot by Vandal Savage, Alfred reveals his true biggest fear and it's... alien infections?
In Batman Universe #5, Bruce is left for dead in the same ally his parents were shot and killed in after Savage steals a mysterious egg-shaped artifact from Batman. As he lays dying, Bruce looks up to the sky and says he wishes Alfred knew how much he loved and admired him. After he lies motionless in the rain for a time, Alfred discovers his friend's body. It appears grim, but suddenly Bruce is revived and healed without explanation. Alfred questions what happened, to which Bruce tells him he was spared and it had something to do with the egg.
Back at the Batcave, Alfred suggests Bruce gets medical treatment at the Hall of Justice. Bruce claims he doesn't know how he was healed outside of the fact it was somehow done by the egg. Alfred still wants Martian Manhunter or Doctor Fate to take a closer look, but Bruce declines, saying, "I have not been infected by an alien spore." Alfred's reaction is priceless, as he says: "But you know? That's my worst fear."
Alfred's worries about a potential alien spore don't end there. As Nightwing joins the conversation, Alfred says he's fine and pats the sweat off his head. He tells Dick that Bruce has "almost certainly" been infected and that an "alien spore is going to kill us all in the most horrible and painful way possible."
It's clear Alfred doesn't like that he can't explain why Bruce was revived and is justifiably worried that something alien was the cause. While Bruce seems comfortable with not fully knowing why the egg brought him back, Alfred, who's had to deal with the repercussions of Batman's decisions, clearly isn't. However, for a guy who has seen just about everything a human person in the DC Universe could, he is surprisingly frightened by the events.
You might expect Alfred's biggest fear would be losing Bruce or other members of his family. While that has to unquestionably be one of his largest fears, the fact alien spores are at the top of the list is sort of hilarious. It's hard to blame him, though, considering the world he lives in.
Ultimately, the egg does turn out to have an alien artifact inside it. Later in the issue, Batman learns a White Lantern ring is housed in it and manages to wield its power to take down an envious Savage. It turns out the ring was protecting its host and did indeed save Bruce, as the World's Greatest Detective correctly deduced.
It might not have been alien spores that helped Bruce, but Alfred wasn't far off with his fright towards the previously-unexplained revival. After all, if the Alien movies have taught us anything, it's that alien infection can definitely lead to some really awful, gruesome outcomes. Alfred's fears are well placed... Just not in this particular case.