The first issue of Last Knight on Earth is a fantastic and intricate comic book, and it sets a high bar for this 3-issue miniseries. This book takes Batman into unusual directions, which makes this story fresh and exciting. Additionally, it’s also a trippy and convoluted story, because we jump from scene to scene and location to location. This is the kind of story that you read and then reread, as so much is happening in the pages of these issues that sometimes it’s hard to keep up with everything. This should not be seen as criticism, though, because every now and then I enjoy a convoluted story as long as it stays exciting and keeps making me hungry for answers. So, the first issue certainly succeeded in that, but what about this second issue? Without further ado, let’s jump into the review proper.
Sometimes I open up a comic and the art is so stunning that I actually find it difficult to turn the page. This is true for Last Knight on Earth #2. Many people have already said this, and I have said this myself, but I’m going to say it again: as far as Capullo comics go, this is probably the best work he has put out in some time. And given that his work has always been incredible, that’s really saying something.
Take a look, for example, at the angles that Capullo chooses for his panels. If we turn to the opening scene in the comic, we find Joe Chill in the kitchen of his grimy apartment, cooking a meal. The opening shot is a close-up on the frying pan, just above the fire, and we see Joe’s hand clenched around the pan’s handle. At this stage, both the location and the character remain mysterious, but as we move to the second panel, which presents a medium shot, we see more of Joe himself and his kitchen. The details in this second panel are incredible: Capullo, Glapion and FCO take the time to draw the dirt on the floor and the walls; the calendar; the dirty cupboard; the used plates and cups in the sink; etc. Joe’s kitchen reveals a lot about the character’s personality: his dirty living quarters reflect his state of mind.
Moving on, in the third panel we see Joe reaching into a drawer. A voice says that his snub nose isn’t in the drawer. The fourth panel is a close-up on Joe, and we see him looking over his shoulder, scared of who or what might be there. This fourth panel instantly tells us that he might not have been reaching for his gun, and this idea is fleshed out further when Joe tells his mysterious visitor that he was just looking for cayenne pepper in the drawer.
The scene continues and Joe’s visitor makes his entrance. The action scene that follows is set up nicely. Panels are jagged and slanted, and as the page layout gets more chaotic, we see fire spreading in the background. So, in other words, Capullo’s artistic choices directly reflect what is actually happening in the panels. While this sounds obvious—and it really should be something that all artists should pay attention to—it’s not actually something that you always see in comics that are coming out these days. But Capullo and his team always go the extra mile, and it makes for a beautifully illustrated book that truly stands out among the other books on stands. Honestly, this book is worth it for the art alone, as Capullo, Glapion and FCO keep up this level of quality throughout the entire issue!
But it’s not just the art. Snyder is also at the top of his game here. The narration that he writes is eloquent and lyrical and it inspires me to continue working on my own fiction. A point of criticism would be that the narrator, precisely because the prose is so pretty, doesn’t always sound like himself. There certainly are times when his voice matches his character nicely, but then there are times that the narrator gets very poetic, and it seems to me that at this point I’m no longer reading the character’s own voice, but I’m reading Snyder’s voice.
What’s especially commendable, though, is how Snyder composes such a complex story but still manages to keep it accessible. The first half of this issue might be confusing to some, but once Batman reaches the Fortress of Solitude, the story becomes more streamlined. Everything is still mysterious and appropriately vague, but at least we are given some more answers, and the final section of the book snaps Batman’s mission into focus. He now has a clear goal, and he has both Joker and Wonder Woman by his side to achieve that goal. The cliffhanger sets up the final issue, and I can’t wait to read this story’s conclusion.
Before I conclude, I want to address a couple of things that I expect people to be critical of. The first has to do with Joker: while I love that Snyder embraces Joker’s funny side and not so much his horrific, villainous side (I think Snyder has explored the villainous side of Joker enough at this point), there are two things about Joker’s characterization that bother me slightly. First, he keeps making the same joke about wanting to be Batman’s new Robin, and while that joke was funny at first, it starts to lose its power when it’s repeated multiple times. Second, I wonder what role exactly Joker will play in this story. So far he has been rather passive, as his head is just sitting inside that jar and Batman is carrying him around. Joker is almost like an observer, who then gets to report some of the things that he sees to us readers, whereas this character could (and should) be capable of so much more. However, there’s one more issue coming up, and for all I know Joker’s role in this story might become clear next time.
Then there’s also the case of Wonder Woman. I love her look and her attitude in this book, but seeing her cut off limbs and a head makes me question her characterization a little bit. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think that her actions are inappropriate or unwarranted; she’s in a dire situation and needs to fight for her life, after all. But seeing her fight without mercy makes me wonder what exactly it is that changed her core values and principles to a point that she’s capable of this kind of slaughter. I’ve always seen Wonder Woman as the most compassionate character in the DCU, using her lasso to make her opponents submit to her rather than cutting off their limbs. Another thing to consider is the fact that Batman didn’t stop her or even so much as said anything about her killing those enemies. Sure, the enemies are copies of another character, but they bleed and therefore they are alive. None of this ruins the story for me in any way, but it is something that stands out to me. But to argue for these artistic choice: this Black Label book (taking place outside regular continuity) features a lot of familiar faces who have changed and act seemingly out-of-character, which underscores how Batman’s world has changed and how mysterious and alien everything around Batman has become. All things considered, it’s actually pretty intriguing.
- You are into psychedelic adventure stories that take you to many strange places.
- You love it when Batman and Wonder Woman team up!
- Capullo, Glapion and FCO are your artistic heroes.
Overall: This is a great comic and I absolutely recommend that you buy this! The writing and the art are both fantastic, and, above all, this story is just such an adventure. There are so many twists and turns, and new locations, and familiar characters, and mysterious characters, and intrigue—this is a true page turner that will keep you coming back for more. Read, reread and enjoy!