The first event of DC Rebirth is here in the form of a major Bat-Family crossover called, “Night Of The Monster Men“. The seeds were been planted for this story back in the very first issue of Tom King’s current Batman run. This week, DC released both Part 1 and 2 of the six-part story arc in Batman #7 and Nightwing #5. The initial script for “Night Of The Monster Men” was written by Steve Orlando, who then co-wrote each chapter with the writer of their respective series.
In the wake of Tim Drake’s “death”, Batman is going overboard trying to protect the members of the Bat-Family. He meets with Batwoman, Nightwing, and the other remaining allies to devise a plan for an incoming hurricane that threatens the citizens of Gotham City. Once the evacuation begins, a giant monster starts reeking havoc on the city and the heroes are forced to adjust their carefully calculated strategy. At the Batcave, Alfred and Duke start investigating the clues Batman is feeding them and uncover a plot by Hugo Strange and company that unleashed these monster men upon Gotham. After taking down the first grotesque beast, a second appears, then Nightwing discovers there are two more they haven’t yet encountered.
All the elements of a perfect Batman crossover event are present right from the beginning, as if Orlando and King had a checklist. The incoming hurricane initiates a great setting, the disgusting mammoth monsters are a magnificent obstacle, and Hugo Strange/Psycho Pirate pulling the mystery strings in the background is wonderful.
Neither book is anything but this story arc and there’s no change point of view; Nightwing #5 is just as much a Batman book as Batman #7. This keeps the event moving forward without revisiting the same occurrence from different perspectives each week (hello Civil War II tie-ins). Bruce is really hurting from the “loss” of Red Robin, but he maintains his focus on the problems at hand, though there’s enough setup for a possible meltdown at some point.
All the Bat-Family comics being produced right now are so connected. Without feeling forced, DC’s writers have done a great job keeping the continuity fluid as a whole unit. This the event where all that has really paid off, every little note telling readers that things occurred in other books is completely earned and not just there to sell unpopular books. The events of this arc even tie-in to the plane attack at the start Tom King’s Batman #1, as the terrorist who shot the plane ( and himself, a moment many readers probably forgot) ends up being one of the monster men.
A theme that carries over from Detective Comics that I’ve really been enjoying is Batwoman regularly challenging Batman’s leadership and judgement. She’s the only Bat-Family member who’s able to talk down to Bruce when necessary, and it’s not something you see very often in Batman comics. Even Dick Grayson doesn’t get that much leeway and he’s the one Bruce trusts the most! What this event will do, other than entertain the hell out of readers, is force people who aren’t absorbing every Bat-Family title into paying attention to the other books.
Across both issues, the art teams contribute beautiful pages and well crafted designs. The creatures in Batman #7 lean more toward repulsive Resident Evil-looking designs, where Nightwing #5 features more of a Godzilla enemy approach; both are great. With Batman facing off against two-story monsters, the action needs to be big and both books deliver full-scale masterpieces of exciting conflict. One of my favorite elements in the Batman section of DC Rebirth thus far has been the creativity put into all those wonderful toys Batman with which equips himself. The execution and presentation for every tool he uses looks phenomenal and sells even the silliest of ideas. The Bat Beacon, for instance, is so awesome and such a simple idea, but it’s also a very Batman idea.
“Night Of The Monster Men” Parts 1 and 2 kickoff this event in flawless Batman style, fully taking advantage of the shared universe between all Bat-related comic books. When everything in a comic book universe intersects the proper way, the payoff is something readers won’t soon forget. Batman #7 brilliantly set the stage for what this arc is all about, and Nightwing #5 continues flawlessly with the torch it was passed. My only gripe between the two issues is the tiniest detail nitpick of all-time: I loved everybody referencing “Zero Year” in talking about the last citywide disaster, but why no love for my man Mr. Bloom and the time he almost wiped Gotham off the map?
“Night Of The Monster Men” looks to be a great first crossover event for DC Rebirth, and it was wise to make Batman the star and keep it somewhat small scale before eventually getting into all that Watchmen stuff. If you aren’t reading all the Bat-books, hopefully this will sway you because they are all wonderful (especially Nightwing).