My favorite superhero is Batman and my favorite type of story is dystopian future. DC’s Elseworlds stories tell different versions of known characters and alternate timeline stories. These are some of my favorite comics, as they can tell whatever story they want without having to stay within any DC canonical guidelines. I have known about the Batman: Last Knight on Earth comic being in the works for a few years, as it was mentioned offhandedly in a Megacon panel I attended. I was excited about it at the time, but since then there have been some other, promising, but in the end, disappointing Batman stories. When I heard Last Knight on Earth finally came out, I picked it up with low expectations. Little did I know, that it’s basically a dystopian future Batman Elseworlds tale.
Even though it’s double-sized at 48 pages, the first issue really just sets up the story. It brings us up to speed as to what happened to the world and what Batman’s part is in it. The story begins by showing us Batman’s world and routine. Then we are thrust into a mystery and situation that may be too much for even The Dark Knight. This is where things get confusing and disorienting, but hold on and trust Batman. We follow along with him as he tries to get on top of what’s going on. From here a world begins to unfold, unlike any other we’ve seen in DC.
Although the intro is jarring, it made more sense after a second read through. This style of storytelling is smart and fun, but at the same time somewhat maddening. I felt like I was missing something, right along with Bruce, which is the point. I like the slow build introduction to what is looking to be a very different and grand adventure. There are going to be nods to the DC universe along the way, but we are heading into unfamiliar territory. There are bits of information and rumors provided in the story so far, but we will mostly be discovering this world and it’s mysteries as we travel along with Batman.
The art by Greg Capullo gives the story a present feel as he has been a recent Batman artist. It doesn’t take us away to another time or Batman style. The art seems to play into the slow revelation and discovery by this modern Batman of a new dark future world. It makes the consequences seem more pressing even though we know this tale won’t affect main Batman continuity. The art dances between dreamy and haunting. We see the terror of the new world, but there is almost a whimsical Land of Oz feeling that coincides with it. We know there’s evil, but it hasn’t really been shown to us yet. At this point, it feels like it’s possible to see pretty much anything in this world.
This story is under DC’s Black Label, which so far only includes Batman: Damned. The Black Label imprint is supposed to be more adult content with nothing held back. There has been a lot of buzz and controversy based on Bruce Wayne’s nudity in Batman Damned #1. I have not been a fan of that book as it seems focused on John Constantine and the story hasn’t really grabbed me. Hopefully, Last Knight on Earth will put the Black Label to better use. While I still find it odd to see The Joker cursing, it did make me laugh at least once. I haven’t seen the need for the Black Label title on this book so far, but it makes me anticipate this book to take a dark turn. This again enhances the promise that we’re in for an intense ride.
So far I am pleasantly surprised by Batman: Last Knight on Earth. We are really only getting started, but the groundwork has been laid. There have already been nods to Batman fans. I am excited about a Batman comic again and can’t wait to learn the details of the new world that has been created. This story also has the opportunity to take a unique, unprecedented look into the Joker/Batman dynamic based on their current situation. There will definitely be some twists and turns, but I believe this story will go down as one of Batman’s greatest.