It's a bit hard to believe but it's been over three years since Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo collaborated together on a Batman story, not counting the character's role in their comic book crossover event Dark Nights: Metal. The two crafted one of the most beloved runs on the DC Comics flagship superhero over the entirety of New 52 era, telling timeless stories while putting their own personal touch on the Caped Crusader. In Batman: Last Knight on Earth, the two reunite to tell one last story starring Bruce Wayne, joined by returning inker Jonathan Glapion and colorist FCO Plascencia, a tale completely unencumbered by main DC Universe continuity as part of the publisher's new imprint DC Black Label.
Last Knight on Earth is a mind-bending, post-apocalyptic take on Batman, placing the grim hero on a journey through a devastated alternate future of the DCU with a familiar, grinning companion as he searches for the answer to one last great mystery. In doing so, the creative team draw from their own extensive history with the character while testing the limits of what exactly a Batman story can be and providing enough of their own personality to elevate the material to greater heights. In short, this tale is an absolute must-read for any fan of Snyder and Capullo's previous Batman work.
Many of Snyder's best stories, both in the DCU and his work at Image Comics, comes from a very personal place. Batman: Death of the Family and Wytches are both informed by parental fears involving children at risk of a greater, unstoppable evil, and Snyder's run on All Star Batman dealt heavily with his concerns about the deteriorating environment. With Last Knight on Earth, Snyder is tackling concerns about the state of the world overall, the chaotic nature of society, and trying to relevant and effective in the face of dramatic social change.
All these themes are apparent in this super-sized debut issue, but at the same time, Snyder has crafted an excellent, out-of-continuity Batman story. As his work with DC has continued for nearly a full decade, the acclaimed writer has taken more and more risks with his storytelling approach and pushed against the boundaries of the medium, largely to great success. Snyder and Capullo's New 52 Batman origin story, Zero Year, had shades of post-apocalyptic tropes, but the team goes for broke here, fully embracing the possibilities of the sub-genre while packing in loads of references from across the DCU. And as part of the Black Label imprint, Snyder can take even greater risks with the iconic characters, and doesn't shy away from more mature content without coming across as off-putting or exploitative; maintaining the story's accessibility and iconography while adding increased creative liberties is a tricky balance but the creative team more than pulls it off.
Capullo crafts some of the best work of his entire, prolific career in this debut issue, teaming with longtime collaborators Glapion and Plascencia. The work is immediately recognizable as a Capullo-illustrated Batman story, but the amount of detail in the line work that has gone into this issue feels like the art team has reached a whole new level. Capullo always brings his A-game, but the lead time for the Black Label miniseries has not been wasted, with the richly rendered visuals in the issue containing both heartbreaking emotional sequences and kinetic action that will keep readers invested in the story and its characters.
In many ways, with its clear nods and references to their previous run, Last Knight on Earth feels like a sentimental goodbye to the character the pair helmed for years, while also giving us the perfect post-apocalyptic superhero story for our increasingly volatile times. As such, the latest Black Label miniseries is a bittersweet one; it reminds readers exactly why the Snyder and Capullo run on Batman was so good but with the knowledge that this three-issue story will their final collaboration together on the character. For fans of the character, this is shaping up to be an unforgettable potential finale for the Dark Knight as he faces the mortality of the entire DCU.