Written by Scott Snyder, Penciled by Greg Capullo, Inked by Jonathan Glapion, Color by FCO Plascencia
The second release from DC's Black Label, their new mature-audiences imprint "dedicated to unique, standalone stories set outside DC continuity", is Batman: Last Knight on Earth #1. The 56-page epic book is the first of a three-issue miniseries, is priced at only $5.99, and it is absolutely amazing. The team of Snyder and Capullo really complement each other well. I know some people have their issues with Snyder's writing style at times, that he "goes on too long" or uses "heavy exposition." In this book, though, he really lets Capullo take the reins and do a lot of the storytelling with his artwork. Capullo draws some amazing-looking post-apocalyptic cityscapes. The look and feel of this book is haunting at times, but also brings a warmth and a sense of hope. In my opinion, the duo did a brilliant job of bringing this book to life, you can just feel yourself being sucked right into the story. If you're a fan of their collaborative work from 2011 with the New 52 run, then you will notice several callbacks to that series that are really cool. Even if you are new to Batman comics altogether, this is a must-read; it can be its own thing and strongly stand alone.
We first see Batman working on a strange case that has been going on for almost a year, with no deaths or villains to combat. Batman just can't seem to let it go until it's too late. There's so much mystery in this book, with every turn of the page, the reader as well as Batman is trying to figure out what the heck is happening. After waking up in Arkham Asylum young and sane, Bruce Wayne is being told over and over again that he is not, and never was, Batman... that it's all just been in his head, but of course he doesn't believe it. The action panels and artwork are great, as Batman, donning a new cowl, makes his way through Arkham, taking out anyone in his way. The colors are stunning, dark and gritty, with the action moving quickly from panel to panel, you can feel the power and speed at which he moves. Along with the action, Scott Snyder does a remarkable job of injecting heart into this book. The love that Bruce and Alfred have for one another is palpable. There's a very emotional and heartwarming moment shared between the two that might even bring a tear to your eye.
Setting off to find the answers to his past and what has become of the world he once knew, Batman finds Joker, or at least what's left of him. He is now just a head in a jar: a living, breathing, totally nuts head, and it remains unknown as to how or why he is still alive. The two of them set forth, and the Joker is absolutely hilarious, his jokes are great, and the back and forth banter between the two of this is quite enjoyable.
Along his thrilling journey to figure out the past and save the future, Batman runs into some very familiar faces, one of those belonging to Diana Prince (Wonder Woman), but she is not the same as he knew her before. She is still strong and confident, but now she appears defeated and has seemingly given up. She urges Batman to stay with her and the others in hiding. She tells him that a new evil has risen to power, and he is the one who has caused this terrible future. She thinks Batman should protect and save the people that "want" to be saved, and not worry about the others. Of course, if you know Batman, you know he will not just protect and save the few, it is his duty and calling to protect all.
Overall, this is one of the best comic books I have read in a long time. I personally feel that it is some of Snyder's and Capullo's best work together, and as it's been promoted, "This could be the last Batman story ever told...." I can't wait for book two of this three part series that is set for release on July 31, 2019. (Hopefully no delays.)