Ricky Church reviews Batman: Last Knight on Earth #2…
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman: Last Knight on Earth is back and just as crazy as the first issue. The pair continue their crazy tale of a world gone mad as Batman, along with Joker’s head in a jar, stay on their trek across the country trying to find a way to put the world right. With Snyder’s prose and Capullo’s fantastic artwork, The Last Knight on Earth #2 takes what was already a captivating story and elevates it even further with its examination of good will vs the nature of evil.
The issue doesn’t waste any time by recapping events of the previous issue or easing you into a comforting scene. Right from the first page, Last Knight on Earth #2 launches into the story as Batman and Joker come across some very frightening situations, such as a Speed Force storm with all the Flashes trapped inside or a bunker town continuously at war with outside forces. It’s a pretty bleak look at what the world has become and Snyder uses the opportunity examine the nature of good vs. evil and how even in a setting meant for people to come together, they still revert to their base instincts and try to control the most precious resources themselves. It’s some interesting ideas that get further examined when Batman and Joker meet Lex Luthor.
Snyder has tackled Superman’s biggest villain a few times throughout his career, most notably Superman Unchained and his current run on Justice League, but Luthor now is a completely different take. The Lex Luthor here is a broken man, one facing the full karma and irony of his plan to defeat Superman not only succeeding, but backfiring completely as it’s what led to the world being the way it is. Snyder utilizes Lex’s spiral into madness to further examine the nature of good vs. evil as Lex is repentant for his past sins and working tirelessly to bring Superman back to life. Snyder seems to be looking at the delicate balance between good and evil as Lex and Superman are complete opposites that cancel each other out. Too much leaning over to one side, as Lex accomplished, leaves everything a complete mess as they very thing he wanted the most brought about so much doom. The same can be said for Batman and Joker as Bats is much more tolerant of Joker’s silly commentary and wishes (granted, Joker is a head in a jar and can’t do much, but the fact Batman still has him says much about Snyder’s theme of good and evil in this crazy world).
As hopeful a figure Superman has always been Snyder does cut to the heart of Batman’s character. For all of the grittiness and gloom Batman exudes, he is one of the most hopeful and compassionate heroes in the DC universe. It’s something he tries so hard to hide that only his closest allies can tell as Wonder Woman reflects on how the original Batman’s own belief in goodness led to his death. It shouldn’t come as any surprise given the length of time Snyder has been writing Batman that he captures the Dark Knight’s fears and doubts very well throughout the issue. His trip down the River Styx with Wonder Woman is one of the most vulnerable moments we’ve seen from Snyder’s Batman as it shows just how much he puts on his shoulders. The fact that the mysterious Omega now ruling the world is possibly one of Batman’s disciples (or very possibly another clone if not somehow the original Batman himself) adds another intriguing parallel to Snyder’s tale that will test the limits of Batman’s own belief in good and hope.
Greg Capullo once again creates some stellar and creepy imagery. Whether it’s of monsters attacking the survivor’s compound or Scarecrow’s new and monstrous design, Capullo’s artwork is evocative and emphasize’s the brutal nature of Last Knight on Earth‘s tone. The facial work he employs on Batman, Lex, Wonder Woman and others captures their emotions very well. The panel of Wonder Woman explaining why she’s following Batman, with the clear admiration and respect on her face, is one of the book’s most startling images for how much it conveys. Capullo’s artwork is elevated by Jonathan Glapion’s inks, helping to further sell the strong facial work, while FCO Plascencia’s colours are very vivid with its mix of bright colours, red backgrounds and dark environments. Plascencia really helps set and move along the book’s surreal tone. The combined work from Capullo, Glapion and Plascencia really makes Last Knight on Earth one of DC’s best-looking books.
With a fast-moving story and an intriguing and thought-provoking examination of good vs. evil, Snyder’s Batman: Last Knight on Earth is shaping up to be a memorable story for the Dark Knight. The character work done on Batman and Lex Luthor opens some very cool doors to new ideas not just in the Batman mythos, but in the larger DCU as well. Capullo’s pencils are at the top of their game and Glaopion’s detailed inks and Plascencia’s atmospheric colours just highlight the book’s quality on both the writing and art front. With just one more issue to go, Last Knight on Earth may see Snyder delve much deeper into this surreal world as Batman and his comrades will come face-to-face with Omega and their life-altering power.