Batman: Last Knight on Earth is both a grand return for Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and colorist FCO Plascencia's interpretation of Batman, and a last hurrah of sorts. Back in 2011, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo were tasked with leading DC's continuity-rebooting New 52 with the flagship title Batman. Despite nearly 80 years of history behind the character, Snyder, Capullo, and Placscencia made their mark on the Dark Knight with a cocky version of the character that battled in an often-times psychedelic world. Snyder and Capullo's Batman fought undead ninjas, punched horses, and even used a giant mech version of himself for a time. The Snyder/Capullo Batman was a fun, strange, and ambitious run, a series unafraid to take big risks while pushing Batman to the limits.
While Snyder, Capullo, and Placsencia departed Batman several years ago, the creative team has returned for a new limited series intended to act as a finale for their time on the book. Last Knight on Earth is a post-apocalyptic tale, one that starts off in the streets of Gotham and slowly pulls the curtains back to reveal a devastated and fallen world nearly devoid of heroes.
Those who read the original Snyder/Capullo Batman will be in for a treat, as the series understandably picks up on several threads from that run. The relationship between the Joker and Batman, a centerpiece in the New 52 Batman, plays a heavy role, as does the "Resurrection Machine" first seen in the "Superheavy" arc that helped define Batman as a summation of his experiences rather than the man behind the cowl or an overarching idea. More recent Snyder works are also referenced, including the upcoming "Year of the Villain" arc that will be playing out in Snyder's Justice League and other DC series over the summer. Personally, I loved how often the book brought back pleasant memories of the New 52 Batman, even indirectly. Seeing Batman trudging through a sea of red sand reminded me of how vibrant the series was and how well Capullo's art fit with the strange plotlines when given a dash of surreal color by FCO.
Snyder and Capullo really do bring out the best in one another when they work together, and the lengthier page count helps as well. With more than 20 pages to work with, Snyder doesn't use heavy exposition to explain the background and lore of his nightmarish future like he often does in current issues of Justice League. Instead, Snyder lets Capullo do a lot of the storytelling work, especially with some wonderful-looking ruined cityscapes and haunted creatures that don't need a lot of explanation outside of the occasional banter between Batman and the decapitated, but somehow still living, head of Joker in a jar. Capullo also brings Snyder's nuanced take on Batman to life, beautifully illustrating a Bruce Wayne who still has a softer side not yet broken by psychotic villains and decades of pain. So much of the Snyder/Capullo Batman arc focused on Bruce Wayne instead of Batman, and it was nice to see that side of him continue to pop up, even in a hellish future ruined by Lex Luthor.
Last Knight on Earth is intended as a finale, although it's just separated enough from the New 52 Batman that any Batman (or general DC) fan can pick up and enjoy the arc. The issue is a great use of DC's Black Label imprint—an oversized, premier quality comic that represents some of the best work published by DC in recent years. Last Knight on Earth #1 marks the end of one of the great modern Batman stories, and it's one that fans shouldn't miss.
Published by DC Comics
On May 29, 2019
Written by Scott Snyder
Pencils by Greg Capullo
Inks by Jonathan Glappion
Colors by FCO Plascencia
Cover by Greg Capullo