The Last Knight on Earth #1

The Last Knight on Earth #1

Touted as the final Batman story written and drawn by Snyder and Capullo, an undeniably legendary duo, Last Knight on Earth has a ton of hype going into it. What’s more, this 3 oversized issue series falls under DC’s Black Label, their new ‘mature’ only lineup. We haven’t seen much come out of this say for Batman Damned which I believe was the first series to come out of the branding. It’s important to note that I don’t think this story is canon. So taking both its free range to explore mature elements and tell whatever story Snyder wants into account, Last Knight on Earth has a near unlimited amount of potential. This is truly the creative team’s swan song when it comes to Batman storytelling, so consider me a little somber about the whole situation, but if you love something you have to let it go right? I think that’s what this is for Snyder and Capullo as well. Nevertheless, I’m excited to finally dive in and see what these all-time greats have to offer.

Last Knight on Earth is a very disorienting story. It’s also legitimately a culmination of everything Snyder has written about Batman up until this point. If you’ve never read anything prior, there’s probably some confusion here on at least a few story beats. From a certain perspective, that kind of sucks. At the same time, long time Snyder & Batman fans are all in this together so they should feel rewarded for knowing this stuff. Snyder’s story takes place in the not so distant future. Society has utterly crumbled, both by Omega, a new villainous entity within the DC universe with the Anti-Life Equation, and by general unruliness. This story sets up a pretty strong precedent that chaos is pretty much inevitable, and that when it comes down it to, when we’ve depleted the world’s resources and ripped apart the fibers of ethics, people no longer want to be saved. As such, despite the efforts of Superman, Wonder Woman and the other powers that be in the DC world, Earth crumbles into the apocalypse.

Batman is gone, and while it’s obvious he had a much larger role in the events that transpired off-page to make the world the way it is, we’re only provided with hints throughout this first issue. I won’t get into heavy detail because I do want to avoid any spoilers, especially because this is only 3 issues, but the entire comic is a psychological ride that raises a lot of questions and vaguely answers others. Basically a Snyder story. Joker’s fully functioning head is in a lantern that Batman carries around, so there’s that I guess.

It’s difficult to say much from looking at a story standpoint. Snyder loves to build for big reveals and climaxes and he’s obviously doing that here too. Readers need to be along for the ride or they’re going to feel a little burned by the probable confusion that this first issue is going to bring. Unlike many big idea comic writers however, I think Snyder usually does a solid job of wrapping everything together cleanly so I have little fear that questions will be answered in later issues. The issue does succeed in being wholly entertaining to read factoring in Capullo’s insanely iconic and gorgeous art style and the psychological thrill ride that the whole thing actually is.

I can’t really say it enough: this comic really feels like a finale of something massive in comic book history. Perhaps we’ll see Capullo and Snyder working together on Batman again in the future, but it’s years off at least and while King has been doing his thing with Batman for a while now, the S&C run is arguably one of the greatest of all time. To see DC giving them the reigns and the Black Label branding really feels like a well deserved treat for the creative team. I can’t get enough of these guys, they reignited my love for Batman solo stories, and I wait with bated breath for the issues to come with this short series.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Ascender #1

Ascender #1

Ascender #1

I think most of the Descender readers always kind of knew what direction the comic book was heading in by the second half of so, but that shouldn’t really take away from anything. A semi-predictable conclusion to a story when as well written as Descender was, is by no means a bad thing. Lemire is a visionary through and through, and the ending of Descender was a breath of relief all of its readers after 32 issues of greatness and suspense. Lemire closing the doors of Descender only opens new ones however and after a short hiatus we’re presented with Ascender, the culmination and presentation of everything that Descender lead up to. I’m not sure if Lemire always had this path in mind (I would wager yes), but with the comics success I can’t imagine he and Image Comics wouldn’t want to continue into another story like this one. Descender is one of the few Image comics I’ve read that remained consistently great throughout, so of course I’m on board.

It’s a little difficult to avoid spoilers from Descender here if we talk at all about the story, because the entirety of Ascender’s world is contingent, so, I’m just going to spoil. Skip to the last paragraph or so if you haven’t read Descender yet. Ascender begins a decade or so into the future. Descender #32 started this timeline and this #1 continues it. Robots are gone and mortal-kind has descended (wink) back into a tribal like form. The people we see worship someone called The Mother, who we quickly learn isn’t exactly the most benevolent leader. Mila, our new main character is the daughter of a now older Andy, the robot hunter and secondary protagonist of Descender. She’s the rebellious type, living with her father outside of the city and outside the grip of The Mother as a free person. Having been born too recently to understand the world previous to the events of the end of Descender however, she doesn’t quite understand her father’s stubbornness and unwillingness to assimilate into this new world. Naturally, she’s curious about the world before, but the coven of witches, also known as The Mothers, have put great effort into wiping out any further traces of robot technology in the galaxy in order to rule it themselves. As our new curious protagonist soon finds though, is that these witches may have not done such a great job after all.

The biggest takeaway from Ascender is that it’s more of the same, and that’s perfect. The art is the same, the style of storytelling is the same. Magic is a sort of new addition to the Descender universe but it fits well into the mysterious nature of the universe in general. Lemire and his partners obviously love this story and their passion continues to show in this new first issue. It really feels like this could go on another 30 issues and beyond, and the team never wavers. They write like they have it all fleshed out in their heads, and I’m painfully excited to see what more is to come with this series.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Grand Moff Tarkin #1

Grand Moff Tarkin #1

While I should put myself onto a lengthy Star Wars comic review hiatus, I had to come out of temporary retirement when I saw a new Tarkin Age of the Republic comic book on the shelf the other week. Wilhuff Tarkin is one of my all time favorite Star Wars characters and all time nerdom characters. While he only appears in 1 movie as well as his CGI appearances in Rogue One, Peter Cushing’s role as the Grand  Moff is pure brilliance. Tarkin’s additional comics and books throughout the years highlight what the original Star Wars movie introduced: a strategically brilliant and ruthless military leader able to stand next to the ever intimidating Darth Vader with confidence. His wholehearted allegiance to the Empire makes him a fascinating character to watch and read, and I’m always excited to see more of him on the page or the screen, so here’s hoping Tarkin #1 delivers.

Interestingly enough, most of this short one-shot Tarkin comic takes place shortly before and shortly after the events of Alderaan’s destruction, even reconstructing the scene between Tarkin, Leia and Vader where Tarkin interrogated Leia and ends up destroying her home planet with the Death Star anyway. Tarkin compares much of his daily life with his early days, hunting and scavenging from a young age and learning to strive on his own, all callbacks to his recent Tarkin novel a few years ago. His crew is young and while loyal to the Empire aren’t exactly the military machine that Tarkin has proudly become. The destruction of an entire planet is no easy task to carry out. As Tarkin discovers hesitancy from many of his crew tasked with carrying out the steps necessary to actually fire the Death Star’s weapon, he questions their loyalty to the Empire. Despite them coming through with the weapons activation and doing their jobs, when Tarkin learns that one of his crew members was from Alderaan, he understands why there was a moment of hesitancy. It means little to Tarkin however. Duty above all else is Tarkin’s m.o., and anything less makes for a bad soldier.

I give some major props to this comic book for choosing this story to tell. There was a lot of directions they could have gone but they chose a very short period of time within the Star Wars universe and told a very tight knit, meaningful story. I don’t completely love Tarkin’s treatment of his men in this comic book, I always got the impression from other stories involving Tarkin that he was a fairly merciful military leader, despite his ruthlessness on the battlefield. He always gave off battle-hardened old man vibes to me and I think this comic takes away from that a little bit. That being said, stories are stories, and Tarkin’s character development isn’t exactly multiple movies or books in length. Overall, I think this comics choice of timeline and storytelling is really powerful, and it was an ambitious choice to go here instead of somewhere else, specifically before the events of a New Hope. Moreso, it really just makes me want more Tarkin stories. This character is great.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

DCeased #1

DCeased #1

What’s a DC comic book story event without a ridiculous name right? DCeased is the next big event for the DC mainline continuity, and it’s something that both Snyder and Capullo have been teasing these past few months as fans have watched their mysterious tweets and mentions of something stirring within DC. Something they’ve been calling their final Batman story together. To be honest, It’s been difficult to keep up with, especially with things like Doomsday Clock and Heroes in Crisis still steadily hitting shelves in a painfully slow but no doubt deliberate pace. I know very little about this new story going in, but naturally I hear the names Snyder and Capullo and I’m immediately on board. Their Batman run of 2011 is legendary, and I have no doubt whatever they’re cooking up hidden behind all this fluff will be glorious.

The first half of so of this first issue follows Darkseid, an evil god and one of the most powerful entities in the DC universe. His recent invasion of Earth is quickly answered by the Justice League, who bring his swift defeat at the hands of a not-so-happy-to-see-him Superman. Defeated, Darkseid retreats, though he’s already retrieved what he was looking for elsewhere. Cyborg, created by technology akin to the Anti-Life Equation, an extremely powerful and dangerous ‘thing’ Darkseid has spent his entire life trying to find was Darkseid’s target all along. Now kidnapped by the minions of Apokolips, Darkseid’s home world, they work tirelessly to tear the Anti-Life Equation from Cyborg’s cybernetic body. Though perhaps with some impatience and eagerness for the prize he’d spent so long trying to obtain Darkseid finds himself in a less than ideal situation, forcing the Anti-Life equation out of Cyborg and sending shock waves throughout the universe as a result. Though Cyborg is able to return to Earth during this time, his connection to the digital world causes a heap of trouble, as the now revealed Anti-Life Equation uploads itself onto the internet all over the world, festering as an incredibly malicious virus and in turn, a mind altering disease. Hundreds of millions across the planet become plagued with the Equation and lose their minds, going berserk and killing everything in their path. The Justice League is forced to move quickly, though as they’re forced to sever their connection to the web they find themselves scattered, unable to contact each other.

I’ll start by saying I didn’t expect zombies. I’m not a fan of them, but I suppose I should have known just by looking at the cover and reading the name. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker though, and I’m always willing to give comics a shot, especially for DC. Disregarding the zombie element for a second, the style of this comic’s writing and the buildup to the end of the comic is pretty entertaining. The story obviously revolves primarily around Batman, but the Justice League which has now expanded quite significantly, now similar to the old JL roster, have their roles to play too, and it’s all handled quite well. The art is the comic’s primary weak point, but I’ve certainly seen worse, and I think the art direction is something that could grow on me after a few issues. We’ll have to see how this comic continues and how it ties back into Snyder’s storylines he’s stitching together, but to be honest, I hope the zombie stuff doesn’t last the whole run.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)
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