Batman: The Last Knight on Earth #3
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascencia
Lettering by Tom Napolitano
Published by DC/Black Label
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo wrap up their years-long Dark Knight saga with Batman: The Last Knight on Earth #3, and while it’s impeccably drawn with an enormous sense of scale, ultimately this finale relies more on spectacle than necessarily hard narrative substance. There’s a sort of dream logic that’s permeated this series since the jump, and those looking for resolution to Snyder and Capullo’s numerous subplots might find themselves disappointed here - but if you’re looking for this team to deliver some fist-pumping moments while churning through their greatest hits, you might enjoy the ride for what it is.
Of course, that ride has been less about twists and turns, and more stretching itself into impossible geometry across its three oversized issues. After investigating a case involving the son of Joe Chill, Batman has woken up in a post-apocalyptic world, where a usurper known as Omega has taken over Gotham City. But along the way, Bruce has picked up the disembodied head of the Joker as a sidekick, teamed up with Dick Grayson and the Court of Owls, and is utilizing Mad Hatter tech to infiltrate Omega’s fortress and stop the severed head of Darkseid from turning humanity into mindless slaves. (Whew!)
It’s a lot to take in, Snyder’s channeling a Grant Morrison-style wildness, while also cherry-picking from his own acclaimed Batman run, with beats like burned-out Bat-Signals or the return of the Rookie suit paying off for longtime readers. But more importantly, he’s teed up Greg Capullo to knock out his pages, tag-teaming with inker Jonathan Glapion and colorist FCO Plascencia - the way that Batman plays off Omega feels striking, not unlike the team’s breakout work on Batman with the Court of Owls. Additionally, the greater page count works great in Capullo’s favor, as he’s able to bring together Snyder’s king-sized script in a way that doesn’t feel cramped. (And to his credit, while the idea of the Joker piloting a giant Robin mech suit is a goofy idea on paper, Capullo sells the concept nicely in practice.)
That all said, while the elements of the story are there, this is for sure the loosest narrative that Snyder has delivered - it’s his Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, sprawling and self-indulgent, for better or for worse. The identity of Omega feels obvious only because no candidates have ever truly been established, while his plan involving the head of Darkseid feels a bit slapdash and convenient. (If Darkseid’s head needs to be grounded for his signal to work, why would the bad guy pull out the stake from the ground just to attack Batman with it?) There are lots of bits and pieces that are introduced in this book, but very few of them get resolution - or when they do, in the case of Joe Chill’s son or the return of Baby Superman, it’s almost like an afterthought before we hop to the next crazy plot point.
But at the same time, this is the kind of story that only Snyder and Capullo could accomplish, because it feels like they’ve already tried everything else. From the "Court of Owls" to Dark Knights: Metal to The Last Knight on Earth, this is a team defined by taking big swings - and even if they might not connect in the same way that their previous work has, you’d be hard-pressed to say that Snyder and Capullo aren’t taking the biggest swings of their careers. This is a story of wild creativity rather than something refined and harnessed as a narrative - and as such, will not be for everyone. But for those who have already been won over by Snyder and Capullo’s voices as comic book creators, they will probably find enough to enjoy with this over-the-top swan song.