Running six issues across Batman #7-8, Nightwing#5-6, and Detective Comics #941-942, Batman and his band of crime fighters are presented with a unique and horrifying array of villains. The mini-series is titled Night of the Monster Men, and it’s basically Batman vs gigantic 1950’s Movie Monsters.
Coming on the heels of Batman Rebirth: I Am Gotham, Night of the Monster Men starts with four members of the recently deceased lying in Gotham’s Tolliver Memorial Morgue. But although they look lifeless, something disturbing is bubbling underneath their skin. These four have unwillingly become monstrous experiments of one Dr. Hugo Strange. His purpose – to have his abominations roam through the streets of Gotham, growing with every footstep, pushing down buildings with each bound. Batman enlists the help of Nightwing, Batwoman, Spoiler, Orphan, and Clayface to take on these monstrous threats, but must eventually face Strange alone in order to find out what lies behind Strange’s reign of horror.
Night of the Monster Men is a surprisingly peculiar Batman tale. It’s unexpected and sets the tone for future Batman stories – for its readership, the rules are being thrown out the window.. In the 1970’s, Batman started down the road to darkness, leaving the campiness of the 50’s and 60’s behind, but Night of the Monster Men is an enjoyable story with a classic monster movie feel. As Strange’s monsters grow to the size of skyscrapers, one can’t help but think of classics like Godzilla, King Kong, Pacific Rim and Cloverfield. Ultimately, then, Night of the Monster Men is a fun mix of action-filled horror,nd in that sense, it can’t help but put a smile on your face.
Night of the Monster Men is written as a collaboration between Steve Orlando, Tim Seeley, and Tom King. The artwork bounces between titles from Roge Antonio, Riley Rossmo, and Andy MacDonald. And the peak panels are easily the splash pages containing, you guessed it – portrayals of mighty monsters. As the series moves forward and the monsters get bigger and bigger, each page becomes even more fantastic.
For myself, the one drawback to Night of the Monster Men is that there are too many characters,and not enough of them heroes I either know or enjoy. Batman shares the limelight with his crime fighting crew, thus making the series more about the team than the Dark Knight. This makes it a broader story and not as intimate as it could have been, detracting from my enjoyment of it. This is a personal preference, but when the story passed over to Spoiler or Orphan, I lost interest. Still, it was thoroughly enjoyable to see Clayface once more, and this time as Batman’s ally.
All in all, Night of the Monster Men is worth reading, especially if you like monster movies. There is something oddly satisfying as an audience member watching a monstrosity waging its own war on a city – whether on the silver screen or inside the pages of a comic book. And for that reason alone, Night of the Monster Men is a success.