Review: Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1

“Last Knight On Earth” – Book One
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion
Color Artist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Review by Steve J. Ray
I’ve been looking forward to Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1 for a long time.

I was the writer lucky enough to publish the article announcing the launch of DC Comics’ new Black Label imprint, which was created to tell new, more grown-up tales featuring DC’s greatest characters.

Can you believe that was almost 15 months ago? One of the first titles announced was this one, with this tantalizing tease:

BATMAN: LAST KNIGHT ON EARTH from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo,the creative team behind DARK KNIGHTS: METAL

Batman wakes up in a desert. He doesn’t know what year it is or how The Joker’s head is alive in a jar beside him, but it’s the beginning of a quest unlike anything the Dark Knight has undertaken before. In this strange future, villains are triumphant and society has liberated itself from the burden of ethical codes. Fighting to survive while in search of answers, Bruce Wayne uncovers the truth about his role in this new world – and so begins the last Batman story ever told.
It would be hard not to get excited by that, right? Well, almost a year and a half later, issue #1 is here… and it was well worth the wait.

Alright On The Knight

Writer Scott Snyder has crafted a tale that is equal part fantasy, nightmare and vintage comic-book fare. He and his collaborators, the brilliant Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion, have been teasing lines and pages from the story for months. The clever part is that these teasers only added to the mystery and anticipation. This made me happy, as I am a complete spoilerphobe.
I’ve been reading Batman comics for over forty years, so it’s rare that anything feels as new, or fresh as this tale does. I have to say that some teasers, those showing a young Bruce locked in Arkham with everything pointing at his entire life as Batman being a lie worried me slightly. That’s something that’s been done before and talked about for decades.
Grant Morrison managed to make all the camp Batman stories of the 50s and 60s canon by explaining them as the fever dreams of a Batman driven temporarily insane, after prolonged sessions locked in a sensory deprivation tank.
British writer/artist Brian Talbot gave fans the disturbing two part tale “Mask” (in Batman: Legends Of The Dark Knight vol. 1, issues #39 and #40). This story was also about a Bruce Wayne who’d been told that his entire crimefighting career as Batman was a lie.
Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1 is every bit as scary, and even more surreal, than both of its predecessors.

Waking Knightmares

This story is bonkers, and more than slightly terrifying. The whole premise is enough to worry any dyed-in-the-wool bat-fan. It’s only fitting that Scott Snyder should team up with Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion on his final bat-tale, as this is the team he started with, way back in Batman (New 52) #1 back in September 2011. The art really adds to the sense of disjointedness and the nightmare feelings we feel whilst reading.
I love Capullo/Glapion’s Batman/Bruce Wayne, and their Joker has always been a favorite. Getting 50 plus pages of them telling a brand new Batman story has been an absolute joy. Their cartooony style is a perfect fit for a tale that goes from the streets of the Gotham City of today, to a future Arkham asylum, then a post-apocalyptic nightmare world of tomorrow.
Add in the color art of FCO Plascencia, and the always spot-on lettering of Tom Napolitano, and we get a comic that borders on perfection.
The color palette changes drastically between the timelines/settings of the story, The cold antiseptic whites of Arkham completely contrast against the black bordered crime trail set out in the pages leading up to it. The atmosphere is altered yet again as soon as Batman claws his way out onto the blood red sands of a dead world.
Napolitano’s distinctive lettering is gorgeous; from Bruce’s tortured cries, to the Joker’s insane dialogue, all of it is beautifully realised.

Conclusion

The imagery on the opening pages is very clever. The hand holding the chalk could just as easily be that of the creators of this comic, slowly erasing the details of Batman’s life. The dead boy in the alley also resonated with me. Everyone talks about how Bruce Wayne’s parents were the ones that were killed in Crime Alley that night, but – to my mind – Bruce himself also perished, or at least his innocence did. When the boy passed, the Batman was born.
I really enjoyed Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1. It’s no secret that I’ll pick up any comic starring Gotham City’s Dark Knight. Over the last 8 or 9 years I’ve tended to pick up anything with Scott Snyder’s name on the cover and everything with Greg Capullo’s. Rarely have I been let down.
Often, when the anticipation and build-up for a comic is so high, one can often be disappointed by the finished product. Not this time. This is one of those times where everyone can believe the hype.
Images Courtesy Of DC Entertainment
(This review was originally published on the Dark Knight News website on May 29th 2019)

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