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"There's no going back, people..."
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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 (then somehow subsequently lost) 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.

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Batman: Last Knight On Earth contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: The Joker, having spent ten years as a head in a jar hanging on a hook in the desert, is overjoyed when Bruce finds him, and rather than attempt to torment him in any shape or form, is instead completely and utterly chummy with the Dark Knight throughout the entire story, chatting nonstop, treating him like an old friend rather than his greatest enemy. He even goes so far as to asking to be the next Robin, which Bruce initially flat out refuses, but by the end of the story when he plugs himself into an exosuit the late Tim Drake built, he doesn't betray him and stays by his side, indeed becoming the new Robin, showing his newfound friendship with Batman was genuine. By the very last page, Joker has achieved something no one ever expected: finally becoming a hero.
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  • 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: Some of the last of heroines and villainess around are Wonder Woman's Amazons, which includes Donna Troy, Poison Ivy, Vixen, and Supergirl.
  • And I Must Scream: All Speed Force users 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.
  • Arm Cannon: Joker's Robin body has powerful machine guns hidden in its elbows. When Batman was getting beaten on by some Elite Mook, Joker came to the rescue by putting a melon-sized hole in the guy.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Witnessing the slaughter between the grotesque Animal Men and the bandaged and crazed Unknown Soldiers, Batman tells the Joker that they have to help them. Joker looks upon Batman's folly and simply asks "Which side?". Batman then says "Both of them" but realizes Joker's point and leaves the area rather than get between these powerful combatants.
  • 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. Numerous other crises have taken place over the years, leaving the world in a sorry state.
  • The Atoner: After basically being responsible for how the world ended up becoming the apocalyptic shithole it is and being moved by Superman's words during their final debate. Lex has a slight case of Sanity Slippage, due to regret and is trying his best to make things right by trying to bring back Clark. Through cloning, making robots based on Superman, or bringing in a Baby Kal-El from another universe.
  • Babies Ever After: A variation. As one last act of redemption, an atoning Luthor was able to get a baby Kal-El from another universe to land on theirs instead. Which soon the Neo-Batman adopts and will raise as his own.
  • Bandaged Face: While going on a ride on a Bat glider, Bats and Joker fly over Fort Waller. Which seems to be guarded by a bunch of soldiers with bandages over their faces.
  • 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 Heel–Face Turn.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Omega tells the new Batman what broke him and made him this way. He'll never forget how the people cheered and laughed when his bones were breaking. That a father helped his son to cut pieces out of Bruce for keepsakes and when he tried to tell a little girl to run away despite no longer having teeth or a tongue, the little girl set him on fire instead.
  • Call-Back: In the final issue, Omega reminisces about the "Gotham Is" column that used to run in the Gotham Gazete before everything went to hell; the "Gotham Is" column was first referenced way back in the first issue of Capullo and Snyder's run on the New 52 Batman series. Fitting, as this comic is the Grand Finale.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Diana changes her mind and returns to help Batman make his way to Gotham.
  • Character Development: Downplayed. While Batman doesn't change much throughout the story, his opinion of the Joker is heightened from believing that he is not fit to be a Robin at the latter's request (although Joker does adopt the suit and mantle later) to claiming that the clown would be a better Batman than Omega ever could be.
  • Civvie Spandex: A variation. Early in the comic, Batman dons an WayneTech asylum patient's outfit/straitjacket and a helmet for shock therapy, all based on his Batsuit. He does however get his trademark Batsuit later on after stumbling onto Wonder Woman.
    • A more straightforward example is one worn by one of the Superman Clones.
  • Cool Old Guy: The now-elderly Jim Gordon, who's remarkably cheerful and laid-back despite the Crapsack World he's living in.
  • Cool Tank: The Haunted Tank from Fort Waller was given a big upgrade and now sports almost as many guns as a capital ship.
  • 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.
  • Decapitation Presentation: When recounting just how powerful Omega is, we are treated to a sight of Darkseid's head being raised up triumphantly.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The remaining 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.
  • Due to the Dead: Diana makes it clear that, while she doesn't forgive Lex Luthor for his past actions, she will make sure that people know about his Heroic Sacrifice allowing her and Batman to escape.
  • Dying Dream: Omega gives Alfred one of him managing to convince the Waynes to not go see Zorro, thus preventing Bruce from becoming Batman. Being that Omega is the real Bruce, it's heartwarming in a sad way, despite having said goodbye to Clone!Bruce, Omega still allows his surrogate father to die happy.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Yeah a couple of Red Shirt Owls died in the last battle, Joker/Robin was almost killed and Dick Grayson and Duke were temporarily poisoned by the Scarecrow, but the new Bat Family survived and have ditched their Owl gear to go back to their old costumes. Diana rescued a brain-washed Martian Manhunter and magic is returning while the Green is selecting a new avatar. Best of all, another baby Ka-El has successfully arrived on Earth.
  • 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 and rapidly ages everything it comes across.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Omega is revealed to be the original Bruce Wayne.
  • Fallen Hero: As noted above, the main villain is the original Batman.
  • First-Episode Twist: The Bruce Wayne we follow in the story is not the original Bruce Wayne, only a clone given the memories and skills of the first Batman, who is also in some way responsible for the current state of the world.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: When Luthor had his change of heart during his debate with Superman. For him, he believed Superman was going to be the winner after Clark's impassioned speech versus Luthor's half-hearted one. That was going to be okay, Luthor anticipated that Clark would hear the kryptonite skewers coming for Lex and he'll use his super-speed to save the day. Luthor didn't foresee that humanity would choose to be evil and voted to have Superman killed.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: During the final battle between Batman and Omega. Batman makes great use of a metal pike with Darkseid's head on it as a weapon after being stabbed with said pike, earlier in said confrontation. Who knew the head of former ruler of Apokolips would make a great bludgeon?
  • Heel–Face Turn: The Joker, of all people, ends up helping Batman and the resistance against Omega, even becoming his new Robin. By the story's end, he is still standing with the heroes.
  • Hopeless War: Fort Waller was supposed to be the great hope where the brightest minds remaining would be working with the various avatars from Parliaments of Life and protected by soldiers and a radioactive hero. It didn't last - instead the Parliaments became twisted, the radioactive hero was murdered and the soldiers went nuts. Now all sides are fighting each other for bits to feed on.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: All it took for most of humanity to turn evil was Lex Luthor giving a half-hearted speech about how Evil was better than Good. That portion of humanity took it to heart and the atrocities they committed on the original Batman and the others who fell at the Hall of Justice was worse than anything most of Batman's Rogue Gallery had done. Wonder Woman and her Amazons are just trying to protect the remaining good people on Earth — little over 100,000 of them...
  • Idiot Ball: Grabbing this was what led to the Hall of Justice massacre and defilement. A huge mob of humans turned sociopathic worshippers of evil used a Riddler lock-picking device to break in while the Justice League was having a meeting. Diana was racing to hold the doors shut on them. So what did the original Batman do? Instead of helping her and using his nonlethal Bat-gadgets to disperse them, he went ahead and let the bloodthirsty mob in so he could reason with them. That turned out even worse than expected...
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • During the battle between Omega and Batman, the former stabs the Dark Knight with a pike that also has the decapitated head of the former ruler of Apokalypse on it. Unfortunately for him, this allows the latter to do some Lodged-Blade Recycling and Grievous Harm with a Body.
    • Getting run through is how Superman dies. Lex Luthor offered a public challenge that Superman couldn't afford to decline. Over a death-trap of kryptonite skewers, they would debate each other on whether in a world on decline it would better to be Good or Evil and loser gets impaled. Humanity voted for Lex Luthor...
  • Irony: A dark meta-example. In various Elseworlds, Bruce Wayne has been presented as the Badass Normal champion of humanity to defy his superpowered colleagues when they began resorting to extremist methods. Here though, when an anti-super mob kills various heroes including his own son when he failed at trying to get them to be reasonable, he turns against humanity.
  • Killed Offscreen: A lot of heroes have died by the time the story starts. When Batman meets with the surviving members of the resistance against Omega, Barbara reveals that Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain, Kate Kane, Stephanie Brown, and Harold have all been killed.
  • Late to the Tragedy: Dick sadly explains that Batman and Wonder Woman arrived just a few days before Omega activates his new mind control device and just a few days after the resistance launched an attack to try and stop him. Said attack involved the deaths of Tim Drake and a number of resistance members, which ended up demoralizing the remaining survivors.
  • 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. The current Batman is the result of Alfred using the machine to try and raise a Bruce Wayne instead of a Batman.
    • Of all people, the Joker becomes the newest Robin, after the death of Tim Drake and also him bothering Batman if he could become one.
  • 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.
  • Losing Your Head: Somehow, the Joker's been reduced to a head in a jar. He hasn't gotten any saner. Or less talkative.
  • Lodged-Blade Recycling: During the final confrontation between Batman and Omega, earlier in the fight Omega hits and stabs Batman with a metal pike with Darkseid's head on it. The latter then proceeds to rip it off of himself and make use of it to great effect against his opponent.
  • Made of Iron: The original Batman survived getting his bones smashed, being chopped up and set on fire though by the barest of threads. He was able to rebuild himself despite healing magic no longer existing, unfortunately for him it was flawed process...
  • The Magic Goes Away: When introduced Diana was wearing the Helmet of Dr. Fate, it's just to protect her head as Nabu no longer inhabits it. Magic has disappeared from the world, though supernatural effects still remain.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Diana recounts how the original Batman allowed an anti-superhero mob into the Hall of Justice in an attempt to reason with them. This led directly to the deaths of several members of the Justice League, including Bruce himself. As it turns out, he survived, and the whole incident led to his becoming Omega.
  • Noodle Incident: During the time between the "present" and the future setting of the story, multiple crises took place and are alluded to, few of which receive much explanation.
    • On an unrelated note, Batman had apparently managed to sneak onto Themyscira once.
  • Power Armor: Tim Drake had built a suit of Robin-Themed armor and used it to fight against Omega. After his death, the Joker has his head attached to the suit to restore his mobility.
  • 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. It turns out to be subverted when Omega's identity is revealed.
  • Rare Random Drop: To an atoning Lex Luthor's despair, he never realized just how rare a successful baby Ka-El's journey to Earth is. In bringing over Ka-Els from other timelines, he would open the rocket only to find dust or dead babies and other bric-brac of failure. Lex's final attempt was a success only because he got a hold of Brainiac's mental headband which helped him increase the odds of a successful drop.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Omega, the de-facto Big Bad of the story, wears a suit like this, only somewhat evocative of Batman's motif, signifying his supposed connection to Bruce. As it turns out, it's actually an Evil Costume Switch.
  • Redeeming Replacement: The Batman clone/copy the story focuses on ultimately becomes one for the original Batman (who had become Omega) after defeating him and bringing peace back to Gotham.
  • Run or Die: The new Batman is in over his head, in this strange post-apocalyptic world. When he encountered the Speed Force storm, he had to leave the Flashes to their fate. During his trip to the Plains of Solitude, he encounters the civil war in Fort Waller, between the Animal Men and the Unknown Soldiers. Bats wanted to save both sides, but in the end realized all he could do is go away from them.
  • Secretly Dying: Omega is actually racing against the clock. With no healing magic available, he's dying from a combination of old age and his wounds from the Hall of Justice massacre catching up to him. That's why he intends to brainwash the clone Batman into the next Omega.
  • Spanner in the Works: Dick and Barbara explain that Tim Drake ended up being one for Omega's reign. After suffering a major injury, he built himself a suit of Power Armor that protected him from Omega's mind control. He then worked to free Dick, Barbara, Duke, and about a hundred other people to form the resistance.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: With various global crises not solved, the vast majority of humanity accepted Luthor's premise that it was better to be evil and get whatever you want. They became sadistic murderous sociopaths shortly after.
  • 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.
    • Omega is eventually revealed to be the original Bruce Wayne. When he allowed members of an anti-superhero mob into the Hall of Justice in an attempt to reason with them, the crowd brutally tortured him near to death. The whole incident and the long, painful recovery afterwards destroyed his faith in humanity and led to him becoming Omega.
  • 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. In the finale, he fights alongside Batman and the remaining heroes against Omega, hooking up his head to the late Tim Drake's Power Armor and then dubbing himself as the new Robin.
    • This version of Batman is not only physically younger, he's missing many of the memories that made him increasingly dour and cynical. He's actually quite idealistic.
  • 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. Somewhat justified, because he's the original Batman.

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