Batman: The Last Knight on Earth #1 is published by DC Black Label, an imprint of DC Comics, and written by Scott Snyder, with pencils by Greg Capullo, inks by Jonathan Glapion, colors by FCO Plascencia, and letters by Tom Napolitano. It is a bimonthly, three-issue miniseries following Bruce Wayne as he wakes up in Arkham Asylum being told he has never been Batman.
Instead, he is told he has been sick for a while and created the world of the Dark Knight in his head. As the doctors around him appear to be villains he has faced and Alfred pleads with him to forget this crusade, Bruce can’t help but break out and explore the dilapidated ruins of Gotham City and the rest of the DC Universe.
DC Black Label is marketed as being a darker and grimmer imprint of DC Comics. Traditionally, when imprints make these claims its met with concern, leaving fans like myself to wonder if things will be done just for shock value at the sacrifice of story. Thankfully, that is not the case with Batman: The Last Knight on Earth #1. The world is uncomfortable and Arkham Asylum is filled with strange little occurrences that just feel downright eerie. From the straight jacket, Bruce has warped into a Batman’s cowl to the fly that seems to take over, every panel clearly as a symbol for something.
A major theme in any good Batman story is the dichotomy between Batman and those around him. In Batman: The Last Knight on Earth #1, that is amplified as Bruce Wayne is fighting the reality that he may not be Batman. While this theme may seem repetitive, Snyder is able to craft something extremely unique here. Like any artist who has a signature style, it is easy to point out this is a Scott Snyder comic from its themes, horror elements, and willingness to put Batman through the wringer.
Batman: The Last Knight on Earth #1 paints Bruce Wayne less like a hero willing to do whatever it takes to complete the mission and more like a lost and sick individual who, with his rash actions, has hurt and ruined the many lives. Snyder’s Bruce feels different from any other iteration of the character. While his actions and this story remind me of Rorschach from Watchmen, despite that, this is still a Batman story at heart.
The beginning scenes with Alfred are heartbreaking and uncomfortable as the reader attempts to grasp what is real. It is easy to fall prey to a lot of the tropes Batman comics use. This is not the first time, even in recent memory, that Batman has been dubbed insane or not within his right mind. Currently, Tom King’s run of Batman sees Bruce undergoing a similar situation but here it is kicked up a few notches.
This acceleration on Bruce’s loss of his mind is mostly because Capullo’s visuals are so unsettling and tie in a lot of the horror aspects within the script. But where Capullo truly shines is his faces, each one showing such vivid and beautiful emotion. His art always feels like a sketch and the shadowing from the penciling creates a lot of movement not seen in other art.
FCO’s colors also lean into the unsettling nature of the comic. The panels in Arkham Asylum are bathed in white, showing the unflattering nature of fluorescent lights that are in almost every doctor’s office in the country. Much like fluorescent light shows every flaw and detail in gruesome glory, this comic is not afraid to break down the barriers of Bruce’s psyche to show the harsh truth.
Similarly, Napolitano’s lettering has a lot of creative and visual cues, especially within Bruce’s monologues. It goes back and forth between what appears to be scribbled paper and the traditional Batman logo we all are used to seeing. This shows the instability within Bruce at this moment as he continues to question reality.
I don’t know if this is the best Batman comic ever because this is the first issue, but I do know this series has the potential to be the best Batman comic in modern comic history. The entire creative team has created something special and horrifying in the best way possible. Batman: The Last Knight on Earth #1 is a beautifully told Batman story that while dipping into familiar themes still manages to offer a unique look at the Caped Crusader.
Batman: The Last Knight on Earth #1 is available now everywhere comics are sold.
Batman: The Last Knight on Earth #1
I don’t know if this is the best Batman comic ever because this is the first issue, but I do know this series has the potential to be the best Batman comic in modern comic history. The entire creative team has created something special and horrifying in the best way possible.