Truthfully, I haven’t read a Batman story focused on Bruce Wayne in a while. I’ve read Batman Beyond consistently, and even consider Batman’s part in Tom Taylor’s DCeased one of the most emotional parts of series, but I haven’t been moved to pick a proper Batman title until I edited the review of Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1 for the site. Now that it’s in a collection, I knew that it was time to pick up Batman: Last Knight On Earth, a grim horror adjacent title that hits hard, even for fans only vaguely interested in the Dark Knight. The comic is published under DC Comics’ Black Label, written by Scott Snyder, with pencils by Greg Capullo, inks by Jonathan Glapion, colors by FCO Plascencia, and letters by Tom Napolitano.
Originally published as a three-part mini-series, Batman: Last Knight On Earth, when read back to back is as moving as a three-act film, and pushes the concepts of who and what you believe both Bruce Wayne and the Bat to be. The opening premise of Snyder’s story presents a fundamental question: what if Bruce wasn’t Batman? But it pushes even deeper in asking: what if the world of the Dark Knight, its villains and his accomplishments were all just in Bruce Wayne’s imagination? That’s where Batman: Last Knight On Earth starts, and it descends into a dark and disturbing ride as the story morphs from fever dream to a sad apocalyptic landscape. In there you find Batman walking through a wasteland with Joker’s severed head in hand to face the man who destroyed the world: Omega.
Snyder’s writing is shocking and it’s twisted. It’s a kind of darkness that comes from exploiting emotions in order to thrill your audience and make them feel uneasy. But it’s also humorous in a way that uses a horror foundation as the Joker talks to Batman, narrates situations, and spreads his grim jokes at the times that Batman needs to concentrate. Every element of Batman: Last Knight On Earth’s narration and dialogue is impactful. When you realize that the same manic man is also behind the narration of the story, you realize that Snyder is stretching and playing with one of the most well-known hero-villain dynamics in existence in a way that shows that he truly understands their relationship as enemies and as two beings tied together.
But Snyder’s understanding of the DC Universe is truly something to behold. From bringing life to a Diana completely lost, a crazed Luthor still obsessed with Superman, the fatherly Alfred, and more, each character that is included in the story feels whole and dynamic. In what is the last issue in the series, we see Snyder dive into Gotham and while the rest of the mini is devastatingly good, this last act is beyond phenomenal. While the series has been out for some time, I feel like I do a disservice to spoil it for new readers, but to put it simply, each part cascades over the other, creating higher and higher climaxes that settle into an ending that is not only emotional but a testament of what makes Bruce the Bat, and how trauma can change that.
The art this issue from Capullo and Glapion is gorgeous and overall disturbing in the ways that Capullo reimagines DC hero and villain staples. From the Joker’s head to his asylum doctor counterpart and Wonder Woman’s mohawk, characters we know and love are different in uncanny ways that we can feel the years on them. The aging, the trauma, the loss, all of it. Napolitano’s lettering is superb, specifically when detailing narration and when bringing the Joker’s dialogue to life in jagged green letters. Plascencia’s colors are not what we usually see in darker stories, instead they’re all highly pigmented, vibrant, and the farthest from the dreary Batman that many know and love. All these creative parts are especially evident on the panels with the siege on Fort Waller. They are bright, firey, and disturbing with violence. It’s a great few pages that use narration to hold the story to Batman, and the art catapults it into pure horror.
Overall, Batman: Last Knight On Earth is phenomenal, twisted, and just what horror fans love. Beyond that, Batman fans of any level from the casual to the obsessed can jump into this collection and leave with a better understanding of the character while also not needing to have read any of the recent runs of the Dark Knight. This is one of my favorite mini-series, and Batman: Last Knight On Earth shows that superhero stories can be more than a cape and cowl.
Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1 – #3 is available in hardcover collection wherever comics are sold.
Batman: Last Knight On Earth, Harcover
Batman: Last Knight On Earth is phenomenal, twisted, and just what horror fans love. Beyond that, Batman fans of any level from the casual to the obsessed can jump into this collection and leave with a better understanding of the character while also not needing to have read any of the recent runs of the Dark Knight. This is one of my favorite mini-series, and Batman: Last Knight On Earth shows that superhero stories can be more than a cape and cowl.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.