BATMAN #7 & #8

Watch out, fellow bat-fans, because the Monster Men are here. So come on, pack your bags, start your engines, and get ready for a cross-over event which stars all of your favorite Bat-Family members. Well, that is all except for Riley Rossmo, Tom King, and Steve Orlando. It's October, 2016, and it's time for the Batman double review.

TO QUOTE the author of 'The Hunchback from Notre Dame', Victor Hugo: 'Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters'.

What do you get if you band together a group of soggy yet bereaved vigilantes who want to defend their city from a plethora of rampaging giant monsters, amidst a hurricane? Answer: You get the first part of, 'Night of the Monster Men', our most recent Batman cross-over event.

Basically, the seventh issue of Batman concentrates on filling us in on what we need to know about this multi-part story-line, and does so by laying down the ground-work like any good first chapter should. To begin with, it introduces us to all the main players: Batman, Batwoman, Clayface, Nightwing, Thomas, Spoiler, etc, etc, etc. Once it's done that, it then relays a little bit more about it's back-story, loosely connecting it with last months 'I am Gotham' story-arc: i.e. Doctor Hugo Strange is out on the prowl, and he's bringing along with him a group of genetically modified monsters, ready to bust loose. After that, the pretext manages to ground itself in a modicum of emotional depth, doing so by telling us about the death of Tim Drake, as well as how the people of the city need to be saved from an impending Hurricane. And finally, to top it all off, we eventually have some good old fashioned action, particularly in a very pithy scene where Batman decides to divide his team into two distinct factions, with each faction either fighting off one of the monsters in question, a baby monster I might add, or concentrating on saving everyone from the flood.

Now while I'm on the subject of 'saving everyone', to a certain extent, you can also say that's the basic motivation behind part four of this cross-over, taking place in issue eight of Batman. This time, however, the stakes have been increased by a factor of ten, as Batman has to defend himself from a monstrous Gotham Girl, Batwoman has to defend herself from a monstrous Nightwing (Please note: Gotham Girl and Nightwing get transformed into monsters in the pages of Detective Comics #941), and to cap it all off, it's still raining and the Spoiler, the Orphan, and Clayface are fighting against a cave full of possessed people contaminated by mould.

But as luck would have it, amidst this turmoil Duke Thomas comes up with a solution to these events, and despite Batman's warning, wants to help them out. And does he? Does Thomas defy Batman's orders and try to save the day? Plus what about the confined situation the Spoiler and Orphan have been placed in? Can they figure out a way to cure these people of their mold induced possession? Or is this secondary sub-plot nothing more than filler compared to the extravagant set pieces on offer? Wink-Wink!

No. I'm not saying. If I do I might spoil the obvious surprise. Yet what I will say, is that my only real complaint with 'Night of the Monster Men', particularly when it comes to part one, is how it persistently keeps on referencing itself to 'Zero Year', almost as if that event has to be placed next to this event for the sake of it's shear stature. I also wasn't too keen with how part one kicked off either, pushing us right in, feet first, with a hurricane warning backed up by the news of Tim Drakes death, seemingly taking for granted that everyone who reads the Batman title should also read the Detective Comics title (I do, but not everyone does). Furthermore, I did find Bruce being rather overbearing where it came to Dukes safety. Now I know that he's still reeling from Tim Drakes death, but that being said, I'm sure Bruce also understands that the needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few. After all, he is Batman, and Batman's life is all about self sacrifice and serving others.

Quickly moving on, and on the flip side of things, I best mention how much I'm loving Steve Orlandos' artwork. In my eyes his art is amazing. No. It's better than amazing. It's beautiful, what with its gritty realism complemented by Ivan Plascencia's pastel colored shades.

I also loved the way each member of the Bat-clan looked on the page, such as in that scene where they fought off that baby monster, or in that other scene in part four where that multi-headed monster took to the sky, scaring the living sh*t out of everyone who saw it.

In addition to this, to quote Jack Nicholson's Joker, I loved the inclusion of all those 'wonderful toys'. Not only were their designs sleek and rather refreshing for this type of action packed adventure, but on top of that, it was nice to see how they were being utilized in a very clear-cut and original manner (Shooting a bike at a monster? Yes. That is new!)

So overall, so far, so good! Night of the Monster Men is shaping up to be a nice little segway between one story arc and the next. Although, to be fair, if it turns out to be a memorable story-line is anyone's guess. 

There was a scene in issue seven -- or was that eight? -- which kind of reminded me of the following song sung by The Automatic. It's that scene with the monster in it. Ha!

Ouch! Was that too literal?

Now if you really-really want to know why I'm comparing issue eight of Batman to a box of Maltesers, you either have to buy the issue in question, or alternatively, guess the following conclusion-question correctly.

Here's a clue. Despite this adventure being slightly bitter and having a hollow filling, more importantly than that...

Halfway through issue eight Batman asks Clayface to do something strange, and trust me, I don't mean Victor Hugo Strange. So, for the sake of growling -- Grrrrr -- let's see if you can guess what that strange something is out of the following eight options? Could he have asked him to...

  1. Make him a ham and cheese sandwich.
  2. Google 'Monkey porn'.
  3. Turn himself into a bomb and blow up a monster.
  4. Do an impression of Samuel L Jackson and confess that the L stands for Lego.
  5. Go down to the local shops and buy him a packet of cigarettes. 
  6. Sing the Dolly Parton Song, Island in the Stream, with Batman singing the Kenny Rogers part, while Basil sings Dolly's part.
  7. Transform himself into a bulky bat-suit so he could wear him and fight off Gotham Girl.
  8. Give him a blow... errr....
Nuff said.


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