Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo had an incredible run on Batman together. They defined who Batman was in the post-Flashpoint era of the DC Universe. Now after each one took time to work on other projects Snyder and Capullo are reuniting for what is marketed as their final Batman story. Batman: Last Knight On Earth is part of DC’s relatively new Black Label. That means previous restrictions are off so Snyder and Capullo can do just about anything with their final Batman story. What will their final story be about? Let’s find out with Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1.
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Over the course of a year a person draws markers all over Gotham City with chalk every morning. Batman has tracked all of these down and figures out that the 365 marks draw a Batman-esque figure with the epicenter being on Crime Alley.
When Batman arrives at Crime Alley he finds a zombie-like kid that looks like Bruce Wayne as a kid. When Batman approaches the kid a click suddenly sounds. The next thing Batman knows he is shot.
Sometime in the future Bruce wakes up stunned that he is strapped to a chair and a doctor(Dr. Hudd) who looks like Joker without the clown make-up welcomes him back. Dr. Hudd reveals that Arkham Asylum has done many different things to bring him back to reality for the last 20 years. Bruce does not understand what is going on.
Alfred shows back up and tells Bruce that no one blames him for killing his parents and that everyone in Arkham has been trying to help him recover. Bruce does not believe anything Alfred is saying. Alfred then shows a hospital full of doctors and nurses who look like normal versions of his rogues gallery who have played along with Bruce’s Batman fantasy.
Bruce still does not believe this is all real. Alfred sighs and tells Bruce he will visit again. The doctors give Bruce drugs to sedate him.
Bruce wakes up in his padded cell and finds a toy tyrannosaurus and regular penny within the pads. Bruce rages out and tries to tear the padding in his cell apart.
Sometime later a calm Bruce and Alfred sit alone to talk to go over if Bruce accepts what is going on. Alfred eventually shows Bruce the “Batman” costume he wears which is a straight jacket with a shock therapy helmet made into the cowl.
Bruce tells Alfred he is going to need his suit back and takes the costume.
In his Batman suit Bruce takes out every guard that tries to stop him from escaping. Bruce eventually makes it to the bell tower surrounded by Alfred and the doctors. Alfred requests the doctors leave him and Bruce alone.
Bruce asks Alfred why he did all this. Alfred is forced to admit that the world is gone and so are all their friends and family.
Bruce asks Alfred to take off his mask. Alfred does as requested and takes off his digital mask and shows his real old man appearance. Alfred reveals that Toyman caused the destruction of Gotham City. He goes on to state he created this Asylum in hopes of breaking Bruce free from being Batman.
Bruce asks Alfred why he is still young but Alfred does not answer since the truth would upset Bruce. Alfred asks Bruce for one last hug before he heads out as Batman. The two then hug.
Sometime later Batman digs himself out from some sand. He finds a lantern in the middle of the desert he is in and is shocked to find Joker’s alive head inside. While Joker welcomes Batman back he reveals that he has been in the lantern for ten years and that the Speed Force Storms have made the area a nightmare. Batman tells Joker to stop talking and takes the lantern with him.
After some time Batman comes across the Green Lantern Power Battery broken and out of energy in the middle of a city with a dead Mogo, who had its energy leeched to death by Brainiac, floating in the sky.
Suddenly several baby constructs created by crazed people attack Batman. Batman does his best to run and dodge the baby constructs attacks. He is eventually overwhelmed by all the attacks.
Just as one of the constructs is going to kill him someone from the shadows takes out the constructs.
Vixen then reveals herself and immediately bring Batman inside her invisible vehicle.
Inside the vehicle Batman is grilled by Vixen about how he doesn’t know about Omega and why he would wear Batman’s costume (since she does not know it is Bruce) as Poison Ivy drives the vehicle. Poison Ivy suddenly knocks Batman out.
Bruce wakes up in GemWorld surrounded by Donna Troy, Vixen, Supergirl and Poison Ivy. Diana Prince (wearing Doctor Fate’s helmet that lacks any magic) and reveals that there is no more Wonder Woman or Batman. Bruce asks who did this to the world. Diana says it was Bruce’s fault.
Diana takes Bruce through GemWorld which she has made into the base of operation for the Amazons since it exists outside the continuum of things. Bruce asks what happened outside GemWorld. Diana states that they lost and what matters now is protecting those that are left.
Survivors from the world crisis suddenly appear. Diana says that those up top do not want to be saved by them after the heroes failed them. She then shows Bruce the destroyed remains of the Hall of Justice.
Bruce asks how the villains won. Diana reveals it wasn’t villains but everyone else responsible for the state of the world. She goes on to state that Lex Luthor tried to warn people about the world falling apart and said they must take what is theirs rather than just living as things are.
She goes on to say that Superman tried to stop Lex but the people chose doom and the heroes were all picked off one by one. Batman tried to solve things by empowering people and opening the door of the Hall of Justice but that just led to Batman, Green Arrow, Black Canary and Aquaman being killed by the people. Eventually the people turned on Lex and the villains as well.
Diana says that eventually Omega rose and used the Anti-Life Equation to defeat the remaining heroes and villains that fought him. Diana says there is now a rumor that Omega he recently found the power to control everyone remaining on Earth.
Bruce thinks they should fight but Diana states she, the New Amazons and surviving people are going deeper underground to survive. She then asks if Bruce knows his own story.
Bruce states he knows that the original Bruce developed a device that would ensure a new Batman would rise to defend Gotham City with every generation. Diana then states the current Bruce is just a ghost of the original. Bruce says that he was brought back to solve what is going on and Diana knows that since she let Alfred use the device the original him created to bring him to this world.
Diana says she took mercy on Alfred to allow him to bring Bruce back but not to give a world Batman because he, like Wonder Woman, is gone. Bruce asks if Clark is still alive like the rumors say. Diana says that is just a folktale as Clark fell right in front of her and it is just a rumor to lure them out. Bruce believes that they can take Omega down, especially if he is based in Gotham City.
Diana reveals that the real rumor about Omega is that he is one of Bruce’s proteges. Bruce can’t believe it. Diana tells Bruce to let go of the world with heroes and Gods because the people here need him.
Diana then gives Bruce his old Batman suit (the suit Capullo designed with the yellow outline around the Batman logo) and invites him to go into the underworld with her and the others. Bruce is not sure of this. Diana then reveals that she made a deal with the God of the Dead to open the realm and have some light there for them so they can be safe. Bruce thinks that is crazy but Diana says the world just does not want saving so they must help those surviving in GemWorld.
While Bruce is still not sure Diana gives him the night to think about things and promises to talk in the morning.
A kid approaches Bruce and asks him if he is really Batman. The kid then asks Bruce to teach him how to see in the dark. Bruce shows the kid that bats hear through echoes and gives him a lesson.
Later in the night Joker’s head maniacally talks about a poem.
The next morning Diana looks for Bruce but only finds the case holding the Batman suit empty. Diana can only say “Good-Bye, Bruce.”
In the middle of a desert storm Batman is seen walking with the Joker’s head under his arm. End of issue.
The Good: Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1 was a dense read. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo set out to create an entire new world around Batman and they succeeded for the most part. A lot of what worked was based around the things that Snyder and Capullo established in their previous Batman run. If you didn’t read that run there will be some things that the reader may be lost in.
Opening Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1 with Batman already in the middle of a long-term mystery was a great tone setter. It got the reader ready to think about the clues that Snyder and Capullo drop through both the dialogue and artwork. The mysterious figure drawing all the clues in chalk not being shown added to the mystery. It made the reader question what exactly is going on in this world that Bruce Wayne has been placed in.
Bringing back the machine that Bruce created to ensure there was always a Batman to protect Gotham City was a great callback. The machine was something unique to Snyder’s run and was a rewarding device to bring back to explain a lot of things. It made the Bruce Wayne that we see for the majority of this issue come across as newly born. Just like the reader Bruce is experiencing this new post-apocalyptic world for the first time. And it also gives a reason for why Bruce can still be in his prime even though others have aged.
Starting this new Bruce out with Alfred creating a Shutter Island-style scenario was an interesting way to establish that this isn’t the Batman we know in the current continuity. Snyder was very careful in not making Alfred come across as crazy for setting up a version of Shutter Island for Bruce. The dialogue choices made for Alfred showed that he was more of a concern parent trying his best to give Bruce a second chance at life that did not involve Batman.
Even if the way he went about it was crazy it fits with how Alfred has lived long enough to see how chaotic the world has become. Having to go through not only living in this chaotic world for years but also with the knowledge it took someone he viewed as a son away from him made his position understandable. Bruce coming to terms that Alfred only had the best intentions for him made their final hug had more emotional impact because of how long we spent in in Arkham with the two of them.
Seeing Batman dig himself up from the sand was a nice rebirth moment. This was the big breakout for the character to show he is back in the world. And being in an open world rather than just another city showed that Batman will be on a journey taking him into the unknown rather than his comfort zone of Gotham City.
Joker’s head becoming Batman’s sidekick of sorts through this journey was a crazy but fun choice. Joker constantly getting on Batman’s nerves with what he says made for a great turn for what there rivalry normally is. Through just having Joker’s head Snyder created a lot of questions for what happened to this world that the Joker ended up this way. At the same time Snyder was able to use Joker to progress the narrative of what happened in this world with some insight into things like the Speed Force Storm and zombie-like Green Lanterns.
Seeing the world in such a chaotic state where the Green Lantern’s Power Battery and a dead Mojo floating overhead was exactly what needed to be shown to establish the desperation in the world. There was a lack of hope to seeing the world in such a state that was only furthered by the zombie Green Lanterns trying to kill Batman. It put the question of if Batman arrived to late and he is just here to witness the end of the world rather than to save it.
That idea was furthered by Batman and Wonder Woman’s conversation. Diana constantly saying that the age of superheroes is dead and that Wonder Woman is no more showed how hopeless things have become. For Diana to get to the point that she is taking the survivors that followed her and the New Amazons to the land of the dead. That showed how the world is really at its last legs if someone who normally doesn’t give up fighting like Diana is ready to call it in.
Diana not sugarcoating anything about what happened in this world further showed that the state of this world has been around for a long time. Snyder did a great job showing how much time has passed. Everyone looked beaten down and using the last of their powers to make the best out of a horrible situation.
And it was fascinating to learn from Diana that the state of the world is not because of some large villain attack. Instead it was because the world itself was running out of resources and people were looking for the best way to survive. Even if that meant that they turned on the heroes and villains to survive they took it.
At the same time, there was an interesting addition made to this revelation that the character Omega is using the Anti-Life Equation to be the leader of this world. Furthermore, learning that Omega is possibly one of Batman’s proteges creates a lot of question on who he is and what his motivations are. Specifically, was the Anti-Life Equation the root of all the chaos that happened to this Earth.
Bruce fighting against Diana’s plan to go to the land of the dead also furthered the fact that he has not experienced everything that happened. He is basically a newborn who still believes that as Batman he can be the hero this world needs. Not being beaten down like the others could very well be Bruce’s biggest strength and weakness as he explores this new version of Earth.
Greg Capullo turned in some of his best work with Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1. With how big of a page count there was Capullo delivered strong, consistent artwork throughout. He never lost vision of the world he and Snyder were crafting. With how each chapter explored a different setting Capullo did a good job mixing up the way he drew each location. It gave a unique feeling to the dialogue characters were given as we learn what was going on. Credit to Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascencia for helping put over the different settings Capullo drew.
The Bad: Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1 is built for those who were a fan of Snyder and Capullo’s run on Batman. Because of that there are a lot of concepts that Snyder reintroduced that will fly over the heads of new readers. Everything with the Batman reincarnation machine will be confusing for those not familiar with the full meaning of it.
The same goes for how Batman and Joker’s relationship is established in this issue. The way Batman puts up with Joker is built on the history Snyder established between the two rather than the current events. Because of all this and a few other things Batman: Last Knight On Earth is a comic I would recommend those unfamiliar with Snyder and Capullo’s run to read when it is trade format rather than individual issues.
While it is not emphasized I do hope that this all does not turn out to be a dream. That is something that seems to be implied with how the opening sequence went down. Given how things normally turn out with dream-like adventures for Batman this is something that hopefully is avoided. It would be much more interesting if this is what the state of the world that Batman finds himself in and that he must find a way to save this world while also getting back to the mystery that opened Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1.
Overall: Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1 was a comic rich in content. Splitting the issue up in different chapters made the world Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo crafted around Batman be fully realized. For how many answers we get about Batman’s surroundings there are even more questions raised for what really is going on with this Earth. It all comes together for a fascinating continuation of Snyder and Capullo’s Batman run.
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