“So. I’ve been whipping the rest of the family into shape, but you’ve both been missing class… time for a lesson.”
The “Night of the Monster Men” event continues in Tom King and Steve Orlando’s Batman #8. As Batman battles the kaiju monsters, the Batfamily remain close at hand to help the fight. Orlando has been the main writer for the event, having co-written every entry in Rebirth’s first cross-over. While the battle sequences are engaging the overall story is beginning to drag. As witty and enjoyable as his dialogue is, Orlando can’t make up for the lack of progression in terms of the plot. Thankfully, he’s still able to turn any scene into an entertaining romp with little effort. With King on as co-writer, every Batfamily member has a distinctive voice and a significant role in the story. His talents tend to lean towards a light-hearted way of approaching deadly situations. Considering the size of the monsters he’s playing with it’s no surprise he’s going for the fun approach.
While Dr. Hugo Strange is once again taking a background role there’s no shortage of baddies to bash in Batman #8. The monsters, originating as corpses in the city morgue, continue to run rampant around Gotham as the family begin their attack. While Tim Drake’s absence has been referenced throughout the cross-over it’s odd that he’s so quickly swept under the rug. With Bruce and Kate heading the offensive Tim would have been a perfect asset for getting to the bottom of this mystery. Regardless, other Batmembers get plenty of page-time that they otherwise wouldn’t have. The problem lies with the monsters themselves. While it’s exciting to see Rossmo craft such awesome kaiju, they’re simply big blobs of muscle in need of a bat-beatdown. No clear goals and no apparent motivation. Without the appeal of a true antagonist or conflict this is just another set of dominos for Bruce to knock down.
Duke Thomas has had a particularly tough time since his introduction in Scott Snyder’s “Zero Year” event. His family have succumbed to the Joker Venom, his group of Robins has seemingly dispersed and his “Lark” costume is entirely yellow. Factor in his wooden personality and it explains the uphill battle he’s had joining this most exclusive of families. Unfortunately, while the “Night of the Monster Men” has made him more useful it hasn’t managed to make him a truly unique or profound addition to the team. In fact, Alfred is relegated to a background role so that Duke can take his usual place in the Batcave. If only this team of talented writers could come up with a substantial position for the latest “Robin”.
Riley Rossmo recently made a splash by illustrating the last Batman issue of the New 52. His static lines and fluid character designs serve these monstrous designs just as well as his work in the recently concluded Constantine: Hellblazer series. It’s refreshing to see a Superhero book that doesn’t emphasize the character’s muscles over any other stylistic choice. Ivan Plascencia’s colors are another wonderful asset to the book. He provides a lovely gothic haze to the monster-ridden Gotham. Together the art team have helped make a mediocre event into a visual treat. Rossmo clearly has a look he’s going for and that’s what he’s going to create. Dark in tone and oddly beautiful, Rossmo proves himself one of the best artists on today’s shelves.
Steve Orlando is one of comics most exciting names for a reason. His ability to blend comedy and enthralling action is a skill few other writers have. While his work on Supergirl and Midnighter and Apollo showcase these talents, “Night of the Monster Men” seems to be dragging its feet. The Batfamily is at attention, doing their best to fight back these gorgeous beasts designed by artist Riley Rossmo. Though the art is engaging Batman #8 continues to be affected by incredibly slow pacing. There’s not much plot to go around, considering the event has amounted to little more than a simple monster mash. Without a focus on Dr. Hugo Strange and his motives the team have only to defeat these monsters to end this night of terror. Orlando is clearly going for a fun and entertaining affair. But given his track record “Night of the Monster Men” should have been a profound and unique story that introduces an entirely new element to the Batman universe. Instead, these giant foes are felled just as easily as any of his other enemies. If only Batman’s first Rebirth cross-over had been a little more… strange.
- Gorgeous Visuals
- Crisp Action
- Great Dialogue
- Slow Pacing
- Duke Thomas Still Needs Work
- Dr. Hugo Strange’s Continued Absence