Batman: Last Knight on Earth #1 kicks off writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo’s new standalone story from DC Black Label. A nightmarish Batman tale set in a mind-bending post-apocalyptic world where nothing is certain.
With the country in complete ruins, it’s up to the Dark Knight to figure out why everything fell apart and put a stop to the forces that destroyed Earth. However, first he needs to sort out how he ended up in Arkham Asylum with Alfred Pennyworth telling him that everything he remembers about Gotham is false. According to Alfred, Bruce never actually was Batman.
I don’t know what I was expecting from the start of this first chapter, but Bruce Wayne’s brief stay at the asylum wasn’t it. As the story goes on, you discover things aren’t exactly as they seem, but Snyder seriously had me fooled there for a second. As I kept reading, it kind of felt like I was going crazy in the same way that Bruce was being portrayed. We’ve all grown up knowing Batman’s origin and to think for even a second he was just insane the whole time and conjured up everything in his mind was just so crazy!
To make things even weirder, Bruce is easily twenty years younger at the asylum than he was at the beginning of the story. We learn eventually why this happens (in a neat nod to the Snyder/Capullo Batman continuity), but it creates quite a shock factor and adds to the initial “WTF is going on here???” aspect of the story.
Seeing Bruce in such a belligerent state must have been difficult for Alfred, who it turns out was behind the charade, but he did have good intentions. While everyone at the fake asylum gives a convincing performance in order to convince Bruce of his insanity, his unrelenting resilience and even stubbornness prove to be admirable qualities and part of what we all love about Batman. He’s been through so much and his ability to stay sane in the most insane conditions shows how powerful of a person he is.
Batman manages to make his way out of the asylum because…well, he’s Batman and eventually, gets thrown into the post-apocalyptic wasteland that has taken the place of the Earth he once knew. Almost immediately, he finds a lamp standing alone in the desert that holds the Joker’s very alive and conscious head. But it’s all a little too convenient, you know? After what happened at the asylum, it’s hard to know for sure whether or not this place is real, or if the Joker’s presence is just another deluded manifestation. But real or not, it turns out that having the Joker around makes this confusing new world a little more bearable.
Batman and the Joker have clearly always had a complicated relationship, but having the Joker as the narrator of this story and as Batman’s companion is fitting in so many ways. Joker knows almost everything about Batman, even the most specific of things like the type of scars Bruce bears on his body (likely because he gave him many of them). This shockingly makes him the best person to serve as both the narrator and companion to Batman in this story. Plus, he provides a sort of comic relief that we as readers will definitely need as the story becomes grimmer and more complex.
Personally, it reminds me a lot of Batman: Arkham Knight where the Joker would follow Batman around in the form of a hallucination throughout the game. But in the game, Batman couldn’t escape the hallucinations. In this story, Batman willingly chooses to take the Joker with him to traverse parts unknown together. The Joker is literally Batman’s only guiding light and is the only part from the past he can hold on to. They started this journey together long ago, and it only makes sense for them to both end it at each other’s side.
It’s important because in Last Knight on Earth, there’s no one else on his side. Not even the mighty powerful Wonder Woman and her new Amazons—which include Supergirl, Vixen and Poison Ivy, among others—feel like this evil force that has risen in the ruins of Gotham City is something they will be able to defeat. And they’re the ones with actual powers! It really makes you wonder just how powerful this new threat is and what it’s going to take to destroy it.
There’s a whole lot of mystery left to uncover in this series. With heroes gone and unknown forces unleased, Batman and Joker are the only ones left to save a world that’s quite frankly at the point of no return.
It’s surprising to think that this limited miniseries is meant to mark the end of Snyder and Capullo’s Batman when, in reality, it feels more like the beginning of a new chapter for the Dark Knight. But in time, all the pieces of this mystery will fall together and make sense. The question, of course, is how much worse will things get before they do?
Lissete Gonzalez writes about film, TV and comics for DCComics.com and is a contributor to Couch Club, our weekly television column. Look for her on Twitter at @lissete74.