The Batman Family takes on rampaging kaiju in the Night of the Monster Men crossover event.
Welcome back to the Tokusatsu Network’s Comics Corner!
Today, we’ll be taking a look at the first crossover of DC Comics’ Rebirth era, “Night of the Monster Men.” In NoMM, Batman enlists the help of Nightwing, Batwoman, Spoiler, Orphan, and Clayface, to fight Dr. Hugo Strange’s latest experiments.
This isn’t Batman’s first encounter with Strange’s monster men. This story was first told back in Batman #1 in 1940, and again in 2006’s Batman & the Monster Men. “Night of” is quite different from the first two versions. Instead of being 10 ft. tall humanoid mutants, these monsters tower over buildings and come with a few surprise abilities. Thankfully, Batman has the rest of the Batfamily around to help him out.
“Night of the Monster Men” spanned three bi-weekly titles, Tom King’s Batman, Tim Seeley’s Nightwing, and and James Tynion IV’s Detective Comics. Each book’s regular writer was joined by Steve Orlando (Supergirl, Midnighter and Apollo) and a special guest artist. Riley Rossmo handled Batman and designed the new Monster Men, Roge Antonio joined Nightwing, and Andy MacDonald joined Detective Comics. The covers for every issue were handled by Nathan Fairbairn and Yanick Paquette.
NoMM catches our hero Bruce Wayne at a tough time. In Batman, new superhero Gotham Girl was driven insane by Psycho Pirate after being forced to kill her brother. Meanwhile, Red Robin Tim Drake apparently dies in the line of duty over in Detective Comics. NoMM begins with Batman running his team to their limits to protect Gotham from a massive hurricane, and things get even worse once the kaiju show up.
At its heart, NoMM is about how a loner like Batman balances his nature with the fact that he’s built up this small family of misfits around him. Bruce Wayne became Batman because his family was killed in front of him, so when that happens again with Tim, he’s not sure how to handle it. Once the Monster Men appear, Bruce does everything in his power to keep the rest of the Batfamily away from the action. This includes Duke Thomas, his newest sidekick, and Spoiler, Orphan, and Clayface, members of a team led by Batwoman in Detective.
He keeps Nightwing and Batwoman by his side, partially because they have the most experience next to him, and partially because they don’t give him any other choice. They spend much of the crossover trying to pull Bruce out of his funk and get him to trust in the rest of the team.
This dynamic works really well. While Bruce is tied up, first fighting a winged kaiju that keeps sprouting new heads and later tracking down the mastermind Hugo Strange, he’s left with no choice but to trust that his family can take care of themselves as they fight the other monsters elsewhere throughout Gotham. He’s given them the tools to succeed, now he has to let go and trust that they can use them.
Riley Rossmo’s kaiju designs are the highlight of “Night of the Monster Men.” They are all uniquely unsettling, especially the giant baby, and the guest artists make them stand out in each issue. Tokusatsu fans will be delighted to know that there’s one more monster at the end of the series, a fusion of the first four, and that Orlando and company devise a unique spin on the classic kaiju vs. mecha final fight they’re used to.
“Night of the Monster Men” works on all fronts. It’s a fresh look into the Batfamily dynamic using new and old characters, it’s a great new interpretation of one of Batman’s oldest stories, and it’s a fun action comic about giant monsters taking Gotham by storm. I’m usually against crossovers because they often overstay their welcome and interrupt other stories I’d rather be reading, but NoMM works because it logically fits into what’s happening in all of the books involved while also attracting new readers with a fun premise.