Review: BATMAN: LAST KNIGHT ON EARTH #2
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Scott Snyder
Colours: FCO Plascencia
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Batman: Last Knight on Earth #2: The world has been destroyed, and Batman is on a quest to find out who’s responsible. But when villains from his past begin to complicate things for the Dark Knight, he finds an unlikely ally in a place known as “the Plains of Solitude.”
There is a certain style of story where the character is thrown into a world where nothing makes sense. Everything familiar is inverted or backwards and the protagonist has to make sense of it. I love this kind of story, and Last Knight on Earth is a delightful expression of this idea. The story is packed with familiar DC concepts, but they are presented in a way in which we are used to seeing them.
Heroes we know and love are now dead, or distorted into barely recognizable forms. We see hints of sad fates for Animal Man, the Spectre, and others. The Flashes, Jay, Barry, Wally, and Bart are trapped in the Speed Force storms, begging Batman to save them, but he is helpless to do anything but ignore their pleas and continue his quest.
Even with the whole DC Universe having been turned upside down by an apocalyptic cataclysm, there is one character that Batman expects to be the unchanging rock in the DCU, so his quest leads him to the Plains of Solitude, the abode of Superman.
But Bruce’s hopes are dashed by what he finds. What we think is Superman is actually one of his Superman robots. Snyder throws us an unexpected twist by the Fortress’ resident being Lex Luthor.
I found the story of Luthor’s final triumph over Superman fascinating. Luthor places himself and Superman into a deathtrap and challenges him to a debate over Justice and Doom. Humanity would then decide which of these concepts to accept, dooming the losing arguer.
It is somewhat ironic that even though Luthor was certain that Superman had won, humanity chose Doom over Justice. But even more ironic was how remorseful Luthor became, becoming obsessed with finding a way to bring Superman back.
The main villains of the issue are Bane and Scarecrow. Bane appears mostly unchanged in appearance, but appears to be under the control of Scarecrow. Dr. Crane, though, is now a truly spidery ghoul of a creature.
But we see our first glimpse of the villain Omega. He appears to wear a futuristic version of a Batman costume, not dissimilar to the Batman Beyond Batsuit, and the suit obscures his actual identity Who Omega is an intriguing mystery. Could it be the original Batman, not dead after all? Another clone? Jason, Todd, or Damian? The name Omega and the omega symbology hint at a connection to Apokolips, so might it be Darkseid or one of his minions?
I also find myself what is going on in the flashback with Batman confronting Joe Chill. In most versions of the Batman origin, Joe Chill was a petty criminal, but here he seems to be part of a plot against Batman – or perhaps the mastermind. But can we trust that this memory is real?
I also find myself wondering what the reality this story takes place in. Is this a possible future for the DCU if the Justice League loses the Justice Doom War? It could it even be a Hypertime reality, essentially making this an Elseworlds story.
This brings us to the question of what the purpose of the story is. If it’s an Elseworlds type imaginary story, then it’s likely not relevant to any events in the canon DCU. It’s just an alternate take on the DCU – a beautifully told and illustrated Black Label story, but with no implications for other DC books.
However, I believe it’s more likely that this is an Earth in the Dark Multiverse. Snyder is one of the main architects of DC’s overarching story that started with Rebirth. Thus, I suspect that this story will introduce a new character or concept into the DCU, much like Dark Nights Metal introduced the Joker Who Laughs.
I don’t know if it will be the Batman clone who is this book’s protagonist, Omega, or someone else, but I suspect we will be seeing them in Justice League or Batman/Superman after this miniseries concludes.
There is no point in looking for continuity errors when we are presented with a world that has drastically changed, especially when we don’t know the full extent of the changes. Instead, we have to consider whether the story here is internally consistent, and Snyder has done that so far.
Snyder has given us a compelling story of how Batman continuing his fight against evil in a world that has completely and utterly gone to hell. Batman isn’t just struggling against impossible odds here, but is carrying on long after having lost the war. Although this may not be a canon story, it gives us an important lesson about the unbreakable spirit of the Batman.