Bruce Wayne wakes up in Arkham Asylum. Young. Sane.
And... he was never Batman.
So begins this sprawling tale of the Dark Knight as he embarks on a quest through a devastated DC landscape featuring a massive cast of familiar faces from the DC Universe. As he tries to piece together the mystery of his past, he must unravel the cause of this terrible future and track down the unspeakable force that destroyed the world as he knew it
Batman: Last Knight On Earth is a three-issue miniseries written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Greg Capullo as "the last Batman story", taking place in a post-apocalyptic world where the villains have won and an amnesiac Batman, allied with the severed head of The Joker, fights to learn how and why. It is part of DC Comics' Black Label, an imprint focusing on out-of-canon and imaginary tales.
Batman: Last Knight On Earth contains examples of:
- After the End: The Justice League is gone, America's East Coast is rendered a desert, and what's left of the world lives in fear of a villain who can turn everyone on the planet into his slaves at any moment.
- All Just a Dream: Bruce wakes up in Arkham Asylum, institutionalized for killing his own parents as a child. He's never been Batman, the cowl is little more than a straitjacket and a shock-therapy helmet, and the villains he's fought for the past twenty years were all just the staff and patients of the Asylum. In actually, he was hoisted into a simulation of Toyman's by Alfred to deter him from being Batman.
- Amazon Brigade: The last of the heroes around are Wonder Woman's Amazons, which includes Poison Ivy, Vixen, and Supergirl.
- And I Must Scream: The Flashes have all somehow been merged into a Speed Force storm, rampaging across the wasteland and randomly aging anything caught in it. By all accounts, all of them are not only alive, but fully conscious as they uncontrollably become a weather phenomenon.
- Arc Words: Echoes. Diana refers to Bruce as "a ghost, an echo" of Batman. Bruce teaches a boy, who thought that bats can see in the dark, that they use echolocation instead.
- Apocalypse How: According to Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor roused the populace into turning on the world's heroes, and eventually villains, until they were all too weak to win in a war against a new villain who, with the Anti-Life Equation, took over Gotham and America's East Coast. During this war, the Green Lantern Battery was destroyed and Mogo the Living Planet was killed by Brainiac, leaving a bunch of Green Lantern Rings in the hands of Earthlings too weak-willed to use them correctly.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Issue #2 reveals that Lex challenged Superman to a debate of ideals, which ended in Lex himself being moved by Superman's ideals. Unfortunately, the world chose Doom, resulting in Superman's death and sent the world on a path towards destruction. So Lex got what he wanted (the world choosing Doom and Superman dead) just as he underwent a HeelFace Turn.
- Continuity Nod: While the Black Label encourages and promotes out-of-canon imaginary stories, Last Knight on Earth features many Call Backs to the various plot threads Scott Snyder set in stone during his run. Most notable is the plot point of a machine the original Bruce Wayne invented to create a new Batman for each succeeding generation as a contingent for his eventual passing.
- Despair Event Horizon: The heroes of the world gave up hope on saving it when the public decided to butcher their own heroes, and after the war with Omega, Wonder Woman resorts to taking the survivors to the Underworld and never looking back.
- Distant Finale: "The last Batman story" and implied to be the overall Grand Finale of Snyder and Capullo's run on Batman, all taking place in a distant, post-apocalyptic, dystopian future. Also, due to the "justice vs. doom" mantra of Lex Luthor being key to it's backstory, it could count as one to Justice League (2018) as well, which is also written by Snyder.
- Dying Dream: Omega gives Alfred one of him managing to convince the Waynes to not go see Zorro, thus preventing Bruce from becoming Batman.
- A Fate Worse Than Death: All of the Speedsters, Barry Allen, Wally West, Jay Garrick, etc. have all been merged into a traveling Speed Force Storm that randomly ages everything it comes across.
- First-Episode Twist: The Bruce Wayne we follow in the story is not the original Bruce Wayne, only one of many people given the memory and strength of the first Batman, who is also in some way responsible for the current state of the world.
- Legacy Character: At some point, Bruce made a machine that would "bring a Bruce Wayne to life every generation", imbuing the subject with his memories. It's implied that the Batman who was killed in a trap in the beginning of the first issue and the Batman who was killed during the riots were not the originals. The current Batman is the result of Alfred using the machine to raise a Bruce Wayne instead of a Batman.
- Losing Your Head: Somehow, the Joker's been reduced to a head in a jar. He hasn't gotten any saner. Or less talkative.
- Let Them Die Happy: After injecting them with Fear Venom, Omega tells Alfred that he managed to convinced the Waynes not go to the Zorro showing, saving Bruce's parents and preventing him from growing up into Batman.
- Noodle Incident: Batman apparently managed to sneak into Themyscira once.
- Precision F-Strike: The Joker and Wonder Woman both say "shit."
- A Pupil of Mine, Until He Turned to Evil: A rumor goes around that Omega was born and bred in Gotham and may very well have been one of Batman's proteges.
- Took a Level in Cynic: The apocalypse has turned the normally compassionate and determined Diana of Themyscira into a jaded, bitter cynic who has come to believe that living in the depths of the Underworld ("There will be... some light there.") is a safer option than staying on Earth.
- Took a Level in Kindness: After "ten years without an audience", the Joker seems more than happy to see and work with Batman, not even attempting to harm him or drive him insane. Granted, it may be because he is in no position to, and it doesn't stop him from wanting to kill and maim other people.
- The Worf Effect: The villain who destroyed the world, Omega, hasn't been seen in the flesh, but we get a glimpse of his power through Diana's recollection of the war, where he's holding the severed head of Darkseid and not only took the Anti-Life Equation, but is able to amplify it to levels greater than even Final Crisis.