08th Apr2020

‘Batman: Last Knight on Earth’ Graphic Novel Review

by Phil Wheat

Written by Scott Snyder | Art by Greg Capullo | Published by DC Comics/DCBlack Label | Format: Hardback, 200pp


The world of comics has long been filled with different versions of Batman. He is basically the Madonna of comics, reinventing himself for each new generation: from Adam West’s campy portrayal, to Frank Millers’ Dark Knight, to Christopher Nolan’s Batman in the real world. Comics have also been filled with infamous Elseworld versions of the character like Gotham by Gaslight, DC’s mega-event Dark Nights: Metal and another DC Black Label book, Batman: White Knight.

The recent trend, especially in DC Black Label offshoot, is to take the Caped Crusader and turn him evil or flip his story on its head – for example Batman: White Knight flipped the iconic rivalry of Batman and Joker on its head. Whilst the aforementioned Metal was filled with some twisted versions of the characters, including the Uber-popular The Batman Who Laughs… All of which leads us to the latest collected Black Label title, Batman: Last Knight on Earth, which takes Batman – and Bruce Wayne – into somewhat unfamiliar territory… A world without Batman!

Set twenty years in the future, Batman: Last Knight on Earth sees Bruce Wayne, NOT Batman, wake up in Arkham Asylum. Only he’s not Batman. In fact he’s never been Batman. To piece together the mystery the Dark Knight embarks on a sprawling quest through this new, and unknown, future – meeting futuristic versions of former friends and former enemies. On his quest he’s accompanied by a grisly companion, the decapitated head of the Joker; who becomes a ghoulish guide through the landscape of the devastated DC universe – on course with the cause of this terrible future and the unspeakable force that destroyed the world as Batman knew it.

Batman: Last Knight on Earth is the latest book from the creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, who between them have almost reshaped the entire DC universe, with huge books and storylines such as Court of Owls and Dark Nights: Metal, and their run together on the New 52 Batman book reinvigorated the iconic character after the DC-wide reboot of 2011. It’s also very much in the tradition of the classic “What If?” books.

Well that first part of this book is. Honestly, Last Knight on Earth starts out super-strong. Batman wakes up in Arkham Asylum, the Joker is his doctor, his rogues gallery his nurses, physical therapists. Batman was all a figment of Bruce Wayne’s broken psyche. That was how you open a book! However it soon becomes clear that this is NOT the story Scott Snyder is telling. Instead the book descends into a post-apocalyptic future tale, where the people of the DC universe have turned on both heroes and villains and a new “super villain” has risen to take over Gotham. Then there’s all those references to holding open the door, which feels like a retread of the source wall currently seen in DC’s main books. Speaking of “main” DC books, Batman: Last Knight on Earth actually answers that age-old question of just why superheroes seemingly never age…

Such a shame then that Batman: Last Knight on Earth peters out towards then end of its tale, descending into a series of fights and philosophical discussions between heroes, villains and internal monologues. As if the book was stretched out that little bit too far (even though this was originally only a 3-issue mini series), with too much padding and not enough substance. Which is an odd thing to say for a book which feels remarkably dense and heavy-going. Hey, at least Capullo’s art never disappoints!

Batman: Last Knight on Earth is out now in hardback from DC Comics / DC Black Label.


Comments are closed.