It has often been said that superheroes never grow old or die. A generation ago, that might have been true. Certainly the only genre more associated with sudden deaths and improbable resurrections is soap operas. As it stands today, between various heroes coming back from the dead or migrating from one reality to another, the only character guaranteed to never get truly resurrected in some form or fashion is Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben. (And don’t think someone at Marvel isn’t working on that!)
The irony is that ever since Frank Miller coped with the realization that he was older than Bruce Wayne by crafting a story around the idea of a 55-year old Batman, American comics have been awash with comics detailing the “final stories” of various heroes. Heck, Marvel built a whole timeline around the adventures of Old Man Logan, Old Man Hawkeye and now Old Man Quill. And let’s not forget Kingdom Come, which envisioned a much more optimistic ending for most of DC Comics’ heroes.
I mention all these comics to drive home two points – what Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are attempting with their efforts to depict the final days of Bruce Wayne is nothing new and that makes the fact that Batman: Last Knight On Earth seems so fresh and original all the more miraculous.
Oh, you can see plenty of tributes to various dystopias and other “final” stories here and there. A group of Amazons who evoke memories of Mad Max: Fury Road. A group of children that call to mind the final scenes of The Dark Knight Returns. There’s even a nod to Neil Gaiman’s Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader? and one potential end to The Dark Knight’s exploits there.
Ultimately, Batman: Last Knight On Earth is a mystery. Yes, it is a mystery being investigated by an old Batman who wakes up in a young Batman’s body in an unfamiliar world on the verge of death, where he is told Batman never existed except as a product of an catatonic Bruce Wayne’s fever dreams. And yes, he is accompanied by the severed head of Joker (which has done nothing to make him shut up) in what may be the weirdest road trip since Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. But at its core, Batman: Last Knight On Earth is still a detective story.
I don’t think I need to spend much time describing Scott Snyder’s skill as a writer or the craft of Greg Capullo’s pencils. I should, however, make a passing mention of inker Jonathan Glapion and colorist FCO Plascencia, who provide the perfect finishes to Capullo’s work. If you’ve read any Batman comics in the past decade, you should know who they are and be well familiar with the quality of their work. And if you haven’t been fortunate enough to read their previous Batman work.. well, good news! You can read Batman: Last Knight On Earth without worrying about missing anything or any burdensome continuity.
Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1 releases on May 29, 2019!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.