Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Batman: Last Knight on Earth #2 Review

Knock, Knock ... 

Writer: Scott Snyder
Art Team: Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, FCO Plascencia, Tom Napolitano
DC Comics Black Label
Release Date: July 31, 2019
Cover Price: $5.99

Last Knight on Earth got off to a great start a couple months ago, with the only bad thing leaving me to say about it, is that it only comes out every couple of months because I need more. So with issue two now finally in our hands we can get back into what was a heck of an intriguing story, with a team-up I never thought I'd enjoy so much, all in another nice looking package. So let's not waste any more time and get right to discussing.

The issue begins, much like the previous issue did, with a first act that highlights what is either a flashback or dream sequence Batman is experiencing. This time he encounters Joe Chill in what he thinks to be his apartment after having removed all the guns from the premises.  Batman tries to get to the bottom of who the boy in the ally was from the last issue, but with a fire breaking out, and a twist to boot involved in the events at play here, it ends rather abruptly, again without much clarity in either direction. Were these the events in a past life that lead Batman to bring the destruction of the world or are these just fragments of dreams the current Batman is having? We will find out but as a way to start the issue they suck me into the tone of the story immediately and it only picks up from here.

Then its off to visit various location found throughout this world, and other callbacks regarding what happened to the various characters, and fractions normally at play in the DC Universe.  Eventually, events do lead up to a thoroughly heartbreaking moment of the issue, just short of the halfway mark of the story, and it's at this point the villain reveals himself to Alfred first, due to the events that unfolded on his watch the last issue.  You can guess from the clues here, and past Snyder stories, who the villain might be at this point so it's not a great surprise when it comes back around at the end of the issue but still very effective none the less.

Some other highlights and encounters Batman and Joker get ensnared in on their path to save the world and everyone in it also standout. Namely, the Superman/Lex scenario is my favorite, which takes up a nice chunk of our page count but serves as a great way to measure just how badly this universe has gone to the dogs.  I don't want to spoil too many more surprises here but the villain combo of Bane and Scarecrow is truly a work of art.  They're such an odd couple working together here, but so effective, and exceptionally creepy. Again I don't think you necessarily have to had read all of this creative team's previous work on the characters to enjoy this book, but if you're a fan of Snyder's previous Batman work, a lot of the callbacks and call outs to his previous stories get some sort of payoff in these first two issues, which adds to the layers and clues at play here.

Greg Capullo doesn't draw this Batman title as clean, or detailed, as he did city life in Gotham, but I think that is largely by design as Bruce travels through this barren scattered wasteland.  When the characters arrive at the 'new Gotham' at the end, is when I really get the nostalgia Capullo feels for his old Batman work which really was one of the factors that brought me back into Batman comics ... Snyder's stories helped too.

I have one minor issue with the storytelling so far, which doesn't hinder my enjoyment much, but it's present none the less, and that's I just don't understand how all these different lands are connected.  At times it feels like the characters just walk there, and others it feels like tremendous needs of getting somewhere are required, and I can't quite wrap my head around how this world quite works in that regards.  Is it all kind of this dream state, where travel is really sort of an afterthought, and I'm just looking too much into something not there?  Like I said it doesn't take away from any of the moments or scenes I'm enjoying, it just suddenly feels like "oh we're here now" at points, and it throws me off a bit here and there.

Bits and Pieces:

Overall, Batman: Last Knight on Earth seems to be the runaway favorite of the Black label titles so far to give the White Knight series a run for its money.  It's dark, moody, fun, and twisted and I'm having a blast with Snyder and Capullo wrapping up their run on this character. Joker in a Jar, who I didn't look forward to coming into this book, even outright steals the show at points.  Black Label had a rough start with some bad press but has recovered into an imprint at DC becoming my main form of comic entertainment from the company, this is something I highly recommend.


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