“People need to see we’re all in this together. No matter what uniform we wear.”
— Steve Orlando, Batman: Night of the Monster Men
You know what I despise the most about these crossover events nowadays? It’s this tingling feeling that I get every time I jump into them. That feeling that screams that one of their biggest intentions isn’t to deliver a series-wide major event that remains solid both in story and artwork, but a cash-grab attempt to get people to check out the other series that they might not be following. Night of the Monster Men is a crossover event that has its repercussions felt throughout Detective Comics (Rebirth) , Nightwing (Rebirth) and Batman (Rebirth) runs. Being the first crossover event part of the Rebirth era of DC Comics, hope for amelioration in regards of quality was much expected, yet failure was all that rose from this chaos.
It was unquestionably scheduled to be spread around Halloween to get people in that childish horror vibe, but it also remains a retelling of the original Matt Wagner story of the Monster Men. This crossover event takes place between Batman: I am Gotham (Volume 1) and Batman: I am Suicide (Volume 2), between Detective Comics: Rise of the Batmen (Volume 1) and Detective Comics: The Victim Syndicate (Volume 2), and between Nightwing: Better Than Batman (Volume 1) and Nightwing: Bludhaven (Volume 2). Stretching over 6 issues, two from each of these series, Batman: Night of the Monster Men brings Batman, his friends and Gotham together in a fight against the supernatural.
Most of the script in this story arc has Steve Orlando taking the lead, while writers Tom King, Tim Seeley and James Tynion IV still kept their hands in the game as consultants. I don’t want to put the whole blame on one writer, but man the writing in this story was just blatantly dry. There’s nothing in here that warrants an applause and the fact that the key ideas aren’t new (essentially comes from the original story by Matt Wagner) leaves this story absolutely empty of novelty. The story focuses on a Gotham rescue mission conducted by our vigilantes in order to save civilians from the wrath of huge monsters unleashed by Hugo Strange. The story is told through different POVs, and also has several side-horror stories revolving around Orphan (Cassandra Cain) and Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) and a cave parasite or around Nightwing and Gotham Girl and their little endeavor to insanity.
Throughout the series, a lot of characters were also butchered compared to their first story arcs in their respective series. I’m especially looking at Batwoman. Gotham Girl also continues to be a painful sight, although she has never managed to capture my interest since her introduction in Batman: I am Gotham (Volume 1). I also felt like the action scenes were a lot more static than dynamic in giving characters the chance to be who they really are. While these monsters were fun, they were still really childish and innocent. For ginormous aberrations that would require sophisticated tactics, these creatures were easily taken care of. Another big downside in this crossover event is how Hugo Strange, the main villain who triggers these events, barely gets the opportunity to portray himself and build the tension. In fact, they really rushed his motives and made every single moment look atrociously ridiculous. How exactly will you convince people about his obsession for Batman through such an exposition?
The artwork also wavers from acceptable to mediocre throughout the run. Maybe if it had some sort of pattern that worked to convey the whole monster vibe better, I would’ve enjoyed it better. Who am I kidding? Even the best artwork couldn’t save this story. There might have been 1 or 2 issues that had decent style and colouring, otherwise… eh… I always felt like crossover events that incorporated multiple series together would have a very hard time in maintaining consistency from one issue to another. Artwork is no exception.
In the end, what really killed this story is the script. The dialogues were really void of any strength and conviction. It sometimes felt repetitive and other times dwelt too long on the same idea. Night of the Monster Men still had potential ideas that could’ve been executed in a much better way. These ideas basically came from the original story, but with an opportunity like this to retell the original tale at a much modern day, it’s very sad that they couldn’t draw up something better.
Did you read Batman: Night of the Monster Men yet? What did you think about it?
You haven’t read it, you say?
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★☆☆☆/