Publisher: DC (Black Label Imprint)
Writer: Scott Snyder
Pencils: Greg Capullo
Inks: Jonathan Glapion
Colours: FCO Plascencia
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Release Date: 31st July 2019
The first issue of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s ‘Last Knight on Earth’ had a lot of stuff that worked really well and a few things that didn’t, resulting in an enjoyable Elseworlds-esque tale which sees Batman waking up in a future where he and the rest of the heroes failed, rather spectacularly, to save the world.
This second issue looks to expand on the premise a little, but almost seems to be fighting against itself at times, trying its best to tell an engaging story in spite of all the grand reveals and relentlessly ‘bold’ storytelling. Case in point: the mystery surrounding how how Lex Luthor managed to convince the inhabitants of the world to turn against hero and villain alike is genuinely intriguing, but the eventual explanation feels overly convoluted, sapping all the coolness out of the situation by virtue of a needlessly complex set-up involving crystals and Starro’s abilities.
That said, there’s still a lot of great stuff here, although the unexplained moments (the ‘Speed Force storm’ and the “cameos” by The Spectre and Swamp Thing, for instance) have far more of an impact than those Snyder goes to great lengths to explain away. The dynamic between Bruce and Diana is also fantastic, and Joker’s ongoing dialogue with Batman – while perhaps feeling a little too reminiscent of Agatha the Blue Witch from Andrew Maclean’s Head Lopper for my tastes – is pure entertainment.
However, while it feels like Snyder is trying a little too hard at times to pump out the “omg” moments, Capullo is quietly churning out some career-best art. Which, given his impressive body of work, is certainly saying something. His pages are packed with intricate detail and wicked expression, and the character designs for the post-apocalyptic versions of these iconic characters are absolutely stunning (seriously, Scarecrow and Bane have never looked more intimidating.) Jonathan Glapion’s inks flesh out Capullo’s delicate pencils without suffocating them, and FCO Plascencia’s colours round out a striking visual package that ebbs and flows as the different threads of the story intertwine.
The narrative moves along fairly briskly here, leading Bruce and his companions back to the aforementioned “Plains of Solitude” to try and track down Superman, before sending them to Gotham to find out the identity of “Omega”, the mysterious villain who is has apparently managed to obtain the Anti-Life Equation and is threatening to control the minds of everyone on the planet. However, before they reach him, it looks like they’re first going to have to first face some familiar foes with a familiar new leader.
For me, it’s going to be interesting to see how (or indeed if) this story is going to be tied up in a satisfying fashion in the one remaining issue. There’s a heck of a lot going on, and despite Batman’s insistence, this doesn’t really feel like a situation that can be resolved or a world that can be ‘saved’. I’m certain Snyder has something up his sleeve, and while I’m hoping it’s ends up being a lot more than “it was a dream all along”, I’m definitely optimistic that he and Capullo can cap their stellar partnership with a real flourish.
An enjoyable read then, almost in spite of itself, and a solid set-up for the third and final act when it comes.