Batman: Last Knight on Earth #3 review

It’s been a while since Last Knight on Earth #2 was released. The first two issues were really solid but, seeing as it’s taken months to get to this conclusion, I have to admit that I had to go back and reread everything because I had forgotten quite a bit of what had happened. Reading the entire story in one sitting, though, does put everything into perspective. All things considered, I expect this story to both entertain and piss off a lot of readers, and there’s quite a bit to talk about. In this review, I’ll just stick to the points that I think are the most important, so, without further ado, let’s have a look.

While new readers can probably pick up this book and still have a good time, it does assume that the reader has prior knowledge of not only Snyder and Capullo’s Batman run, but also of DC lore in general. For example, Chronos, a character associated with time travel, is mentioned in passing, even though this character has not once appeared in Snyder and Capullo’s Batman. Granted, it’s not vital to the story that you know who Chronos is, except that this character is part of an explanation of what exactly is the deal with the dead boy in Crime Alley that we saw in #1. There are other moments like this where having knowledge of the DCU, beyond just Batman, would be beneficial. However, I don’t think that these kinds of references necessarily enhance the story, so I’m wondering to what extent it’s necessary to include these.

Speaking of the dead boy in Crime Alley, I don’t think the scene reaches its full potential. It’s presented as something significant, but the explanation provided later in this issue doesn’t manage to justify to me why it’s included. I think this stuff just makes the story slightly less focused.

That’s not to say, though, that this story is a convoluted mess that is all over the place. On the contrary, while I dislike those two elements, I actually think that the creative team succeeds at building a lot of suspense on a foundation of solid pacing. For example, at a certain point the heroes split up: Batman and Joker go one way and Wonder Woman and the others go another in order to accomplish a common goal: stopping Omega. The scenes with the different teams alternate well: they build to reveals and epic moments, but before these moments are realized, the creative team switches over to the other group of characters to postpone the realization of said moments. This is how Snyder and Capullo and the gang have created a page turner, and even though this book has around sixty pages, it’s a relatively fast read, and it’s highly entertaining.

Yet, at the same time, it’s also a rather wordy book. While all the dialogue is interesting in its own right and I like reading all of it, I think that sometimes the timing of certain information dumps is off. For example, Diana & co use specific technology to infiltrate an enemy base, and Jim Gordon explains how the technology works while they are already in the middle of their mission. To me, this looks like Snyder is telling the reader all this information, rather than the characters informing each other in a way that’s properly integrated and organic to the storytelling.

At the same time, there are also moments where we get to read a ton of exposition that I feel does enhance the storytelling, although some may disagree with me here. The thing is, a lot of events have already happened before Batman shows up in this futuristic, dystopian version of Gotham. All this history is explained by the various characters that Batman interacts with, and it’s quite overwhelming. But then I think that that’s how Bruce must feel, too, especially when I take into account that he just missed an important battle in which one of his close friends died. This stuff also creates a depressing atmosphere and significantly raises the stakes. After hearing what Omega is capable of, and especially after seeing the costumes and remains of his old friends, Bruce knows that it’s now or never, and this kicks the story into high gear.

While I think there are plenty of readers that aren’t going to appreciate the idea of Joker donning the mantle of Robin, I actually enjoy this quite a bit. I don’t think this is exactly consistent with the way that Snyder has written Joker before, because during Snyder and Capullo’s Batman run Joker has always seemed like a murderous maniac that’s not exactly likeable, given the atrocities that he commits. However, the Joker that we see in Last Knight cracks jokes and reminds me of some of the more wacky takes on the character from older publications. While Last Knight’s isn’t necessarily my favorite take on the character—for that I keep going back to Paul Dini and Mark Hamill—I do rather enjoy this version because I always prefer my Joker to be a funny guy over being the sadistic murderer that’s been the dominant incarnation in Batman comics since the 80s. Your mileage may vary here, though, so you’ll just have to make up your own mind.

Then there is the identity of Omega, which I also expect to cause a few heated debates among the readership. Seeing as it’s hard to talk about this stuff without spoiling it, I’ll just put my thoughts in the spoiler tags below.

As it turns out, Omega is the OG Bruce Wayne (the Batman that we’ve been following throughout this comic is a younger clone), and OG Bruce has gone bat shit crazy. This is not an overnight transition and I think that, within the context of the story, it makes sense to an extent. OG Bruce has had to endure severe torture at the hands of the people that he tried to save, and that ultimately broke him. Despite it all, I think he still sees himself as a hero that’s just trying to do the right thing, except that he’s going way too far. In the end, this does get a little bit lost in the narrative, though, because the final explanation/justification for the character is somewhat rambly. Had this been more concise, it would likely have been easier to relate to OG Bruce and see his point of view more clearly. Because now, rather than being the sort of tragedy that I imagine Snyder is going for, it does kind of come off as shock value for the sake of shock value, and with there being a bunch of evil Batmen showing up in recent publications, this stuff feels a little bit overdone. But, all in all, I do think that this makes for a good story in its own right, because seeing Clone Bruce defeat OG Bruce and usher in a new era of hope in the closing pages is quite inspiring after all: it shows us that even when OG Bruce falls to the dark side, there will always be a new and better Batman to pick up OG Bruce’s slack and be the hero that we all deserve.

Capullo, Glapion and FCO are doing outstanding work. I have commented on Capullo’s pitch-perfect grasp on sequential storytelling before, and all I can do is just repeat those words. Capullo is a master at setting up action scenes. His panels are never static: I always get the sense that something is moving, be it in the background or foreground or all over the image. Especially in this book, the fight scenes are a real treat. For example, we see Dick, Barbara and several other heroes teaming up against villains the likes of Bane, Killer Croc, Scarecrow and others, and the choreography is excellent. It’s not a mean feat drawing so many characters, all engaged in combat, with each and every panel linking up, creating a steady flow across all pages. But Capullo excels even in the quiet moments, where a single glance at a character’s face or posture reveals so much about their disposition and internal struggle. To boot, the backgrounds are as detailed as ever, and Glapion’s inks turn the pencils into even more solid drawings, and FCO’s colors offset Glapion’s shadows and fill the world of Last Knight on Earth with such a varied palette that this entire book becomes a feast for the eyes. Comic fans are a lucky bunch this week, with so many books that boast such beautiful art, and Capullo and his team put out work that’s up there among the best.

Recommended if…

  • You love crazy adventures across the DCU, leading into the heart of a dystopian Gotham.
  • You want to find out the true identity of Omega.
  • You enjoy a more campy version of Joker as opposed to the bloodthirsty psychopath version.
  • You don’t mind when a creative team takes some liberties with regards to characterization.

Overall: The writing, even with its hiccups and flaws, is on point and the art is top notch, and all in all it’s just such an epic adventure featuring Batman and several members of the Bat family. If you don’t mind wordy comics and if you have an open mind with regards to the way some characters are being written, you’re likely to have a good time. Recommended!

Score: 8.5/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.