Review: Batman-Last Knight on Earth

 

Alfred and Bruce's Cowl
Batman the Arkham Knight? Credit: DC Comics

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: Greg Capullo

Inks: Jonathan Glapion

Color: FCO Plascencia

I have read several Batman stories that have some science fiction element to them. The first series I read was Grant Morrison’s Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne where the world’s greatest detective travels back through several time periods to return the present day while his memory is Swiss cheese (queue the Quantum Leap reference). Recently, Bruce had to battle alternate evil versions of himself from the Dark Multiverse in Dark Nights: Metal. Now I have to say that Scott Synder’s Batman: The Last Knight On Earth, which is under the DC Comics Black Label, has piqued my interest and might actually become one of my favorite Batman stories next to Synder’s other work, the Court of Owls.

After reading the preview, I knew that I had to purchase my own copy and read the first issue. And I have to say, the story is crazy good.

I do not want to spoil the story toO much but it is interesting how it starts off with a case where, as the narrator puts it, there is “no grandstanding villain, no corpse, no real victim at all.” This made the story very suspenseful to me because that was when I knew something was up and that Synder was going to set something up in a big way.

And it went from that case to Batman waking up as Arkham Asylum patient Bruce Wayne.  We also see that several of Batman villains including the Joker are doctors or personnel at Arkham. Joker is Dr. Redmund Hudd, Ras al Ghul is Agol, a gym coach, and Thomas Elliot/Hush is a librarian. We also see Harley Quinn, Penguin, Bane, and Two Face.  In this world, Alfred says that Batman is a “bloody stage drama” However, Bruce figures out that Alfred is a frail old man and that this reality is as a world created by Alfred with the help of Toyman.

Here, we learn that Alfred wanted to hide what happened in to the real world knowing that Bruce would go out of his own way to find out what happen and do something about it. Alfred tells Bruce that the world was basically destroyed. And we see several references including the toy T-Rex and Penny which alluded to the Batcave and the Batman cowl attached to the straight jacket.  And we cannot forget about Gotham’s finest, James Gordon and Harvey Bullock being police officers trying to take down the mental patient Bruce.

Then we go to the scene were Bruce and Joker (without his body) stumble upon Wonder Woman and her band of Amazons which consist of Supergirl, Poison Ivy, Vixen, and Wonder Girl. Here, we and Bruce learn what caused the world to go to hell and who caused it. Omega is the new big bad who, according to Wonder Woman, is a former disciple of Bruce’s and has the anti-life equation. We only see a silhouette of the guy holding what looks to be Darkseid’s head.

One of my favorite scenes had to be Batman finding Joker’s head in a jar. What came to my mind in that scene was the Tom Hanks movie Castaway. In that movie, Hanks character is stranded on an island after a plain crash and he finds a Wilson volleyball he names “Wilson.” So, Joker’s head is basically Wilson but he talks and annoys Batman. What’s even funny is that Vixen and Poison Ivy don’t seem too phased by a talking Joker head.

The art done by Greg Capullo was very sharp and detailed. I have always enjoyed seeing Capullo’s art since it brings out more defined and bolder features of the characters especially Batman and Wonder Woman.The colors done by FCO Plascencia also compliment Capullo’s art and do a better job at giving the story meaning. My favorite panel would have to be when Alfred’s true appearance is revealed. To me, this symbolizes the years of struggle Alfred endured while joining Bruce on his war against crime.

The only thing that got me scratching my head was the narrator. I was wondering if it was Alfred doing the narration or perhaps if it was the Joker. The first and last pages of the story kind of threw me off a little in that regard. I don’t know…that’s just me. Or maybe that is Synder’s aim. To throw us, the constant readers, off the scent. Who is the the narrator? Alfred? Joker? Or, is it Omega?

And just who is Omega? We know that he was once a disciple of Bruce. But who is he or she? Dick Grayson? Jason Todd? Tim Drake? Stephanie Brown? Damian Wayne? Jean Paul Valley? Or even Alfred? Only time and the next two issues are going to answer those questions.

I am looking forward to the next issues. This book is definitely going to be one of my big reads this summer.

What do you constant readers think of the first issue of Last Knight on Earth? Please feel free to share a comment and don’t forget to like and subscribe!

My Review of Batman: White Knight

After reading Sean Gordon Murphy’s Batman: White Knight, I realized that the line between “good” and “evil” or “hero” and “villain” could often be blurred. The graphic novel, written under DC Comics Black Label, showed a different take on the dynamic between Batman and the Joker that we have never seen before. After being beaten almost to death, the Joker pleads to Batman that he could change. Dark Knight shoves down a couple pills, meant to medicate insanity, down the the throat of the Clown Prince of Crime. When the Joker is taken to custody, he starts to become more sane and starts referring himself to his given name: Jack Napier.

Many of Gotham City’s citizens are skeptical of the newly redeemed Jack Napier but he cleverly gets out of prison but this time, he does not escape like he usually did as the Joker. Jack Napier appeals to the people that his joker persona was a lie.

The redeemed Joker vows to start a new life in order to restore Gotham City to a safe city without corruption and without the Batman. Obviously, Batman does not believe Napier and keeps an eye on him while the former villain uses Backport, a community of minorities, low income earners, and high levels of crime to gain support in his crusade to become councilman. And he has none other than Harley Quinn at his side, as always, to do his bidding. It seems that Gordon Murphy wrote Backport to represent the current divide going on in the United States of America; the division between two political party’s, the division between the patriarchy and feminism, the division between all races, the division between rich and poor, and so forth.

As Napier becomes popular, Batman and the Gotham City Police Department become less popular due to Napier continuing to expose the corruption and the apparent hypocrisy of Gotham’s elite. This leads even Nightwing, Batgirl, Commissioner Gordon, and many others to slowly distance themselves from the Batman and question his methods. The story ends with a really poignant twist that I don’t want to spoil but it is a twist that I felt would make people understand why Jack Napier was actually the hero Gotham needed while Batman was the hero that Gotham deserves, in reference to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight.

Another Nolan reference that came to mind while reading this novel was the quote that Harvey Dent (Two-Face) said: “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

I feel that Muphy Gordon’s writing used that quote as the theme of White Knight. Murphy’s Batman, started out as a myth and then an ally to the GCPD, eventually became to be viewed as a villain when the Joker, under his Napier persona, exposed the danger Batman presented to the people of Gotham by only protecting Gotham’s wealthy elite and enacting his war on crime in the low class areas like Backport. In addition, Batman’s seemingly unwillingness to share his technology with the Gotham Police was also brought to question by Napier.

Overall, I enjoyed this comic and it wasn’t just because I am a Batman fan. Gordon Murphy’s writing really showed me how Batman and Joker are almost one in the same. As a result, Murphy Gordon has become one of my Batman writers next to Grant Morrison and Frank Miller.

Murphy used his writing to show how Batman and Joker are like two sides of the same coin or a yin and yang. Harley Quinn pointed out that the Jack was so much like Batman and that they actually both wanted the same thing: to protect Gotham and make it safe. I also loved the art done by Murphy and the coloring by Matt Hollingsworth.

Not to digress, but I felt that other mediums have used the same brilliant dynamic that Murphy used between his Batman and Joker to tell their stories. In WWE, Becky Lynch seemingly a “villain” had the fans turn on Charlotte Flair who was a “hero” by reminding them that the latter had everything handed down to her because she was the daughter of Ric Flair. As a result, just like the people of Backport rallying behind Napier and turning on Batman, the WWE Universe rallied behind Lynch and turned on Charlotte Flair. In a sense, it can be argued that Becky Lynch and Charlotte, like Batman and Joker, are two sides of the same coin; both are competitive want the same prize: the WWE Women’s Championship. Could Becky Lynch aka the Irish Lasskicker, and now the self proclaimed “Man” be WWE’s Jack Napier or White Knight? Perhaps, Jack Napier and Harley Quinn would agree and maybe that is what the higher ups at the WWE are cleverly leveraging.

I read an article where Sean Gordon Murphy plans on writing a sequel to the White Knight that centers around how Napier became the Joker and what actually happened to Jason Todd in that reality. The book is set to come out in Sept. 2019 and I am looking forward to reading it. Overall, Batman: White Knight has become one of my favorite Batman stories since Batman: Year One, Batman: Dark Victory, and Batman and Son and it is a must read even if you are not a Batman fan.