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Here come the Monster Men!  Batman #7 marks the first part of a six part story arc that is currently being presented in the pages of Batman, Nightwing, and Detective Comics.  While I’d like to spend some time breaking down the story and getting into the nitty-gritty of it all, the truth of the matter is, it’s pretty straightforward and can be summed up quite easily: Batman fights monsters.

This is just the first part, so I might be jumping the gun, but what I see here seems like nothing more than the intro to an action based story.  Basically, our heroes versus something.  Not an examination of society, self introspection, or the world around us.  Just a simple story that involves a clear obstacle that has to be taken out.  In a lot of ways, it’s classic comic book fanfare, and that does follow suit with some of the ideas that Rebirth has been trying to get back to.  But for me, this was a little too on the nose.  I’ve just come to expect a little more from comic stories than simple good vs evil punch em ups.

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Kill it.  Kill it with FIRE!

I’m also a little let down by The Monster Men themselves.  Back in July when Batman #2 came out, I was super excited and I went into some detail over my joy at the prospect of getting Monster Men, along with some history regarding Hugo Strange and The Monster Men.  (click here for the article).  The thing that bothers me about what we are getting here is the extreme nature of the escalation involved.  The nostalgia was there going into this, but what we have here is Monster Men in name only.  In the original stories involving The Monster Men, they are little more than 10 feet tall.  Basically, just men on physically enhancing drugs and mind altering hallucinogens.  While I do like the update on the inclusion of stem cells in their genesis, the fact that they are 40 plus feet tall is just ridiculous.  And it falls in line with a problem I had all throughout The New52.

There was always this idea that bigger was better.  If there was a threat, it had to be city-wide (or world-wide) to make it a worthwhile story to tell.  Someone’s life always had to be on the line and failure usually meant the destruction of the entire city.  The story that immediately springs to mind is the final Snyder story from the Batman title in which a mech-suited out Batman fought a Godzilla sized Mr.Bloom while a failing hadron collider was about to go critical in the background.  It’s just too much, and hardly the kind of thing I want to see in my Batman stories.  And this just feels like more of the same.  With this story, I feel like they are truly embracing Snyder’s M.O.  Since The Monster Men have already been done before, I guess they figured the only conceivable way to make the story better is to make the monsters bigger and have the fate of the entire city resting in the balance.  It’s just getting old and I’m tired of it.

Like I said above, maybe I’m jumping the gun on this, but I just don’t see this six parter turning out to be some epic story arc that will go down in the annals of Batman History as the greatest thing since sliced bread.  There’s most likely going to be plenty of action, but it will probably amount to nothing more than a temporary distraction from your daily grind.  If you’re thinking like I am, the release schedule for this story is definitely in your favor.  At only 6 parts and spread out over three different titles, this arc will actually be over in 3 short weeks.  That way, if you aren’t crazy about it, you don’t have to wait that long to get into something new.

Oddly enough, in a comic where we have 40 foot tall monsters, the thing that actually stood out to me the most was the plethora of continuity that got referenced.  And I’m not referring to The Monster Men stuff.  They bring up Tim’s supposed death from Detective Comics, the hurricane from Zero Year, and even touch on the fact that Batwoman has had experience dealing with the supernatural and paranormal.  It was a nice anchor for me to latch onto when not much else was vibing with me.  While I might be finding the story a little lackluster, at least I can rest assured in the knowledge that the writer is familiar with the world these characters inhabit.

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Art for this issue is handled by Riley Rossmo, and his particular style doesn’t really gel well with my own personal preferences.  I usually prefer artists that render things with smooth/clean lines and an attention to minute detailing.  What we have here is very rough and unkempt looking.  While I’m not a fan of the art in and of itself, something about it actually works well with the subject matter.  We are dealing with monsters here, so the unruly nature of the art does somewhat match the disjointed and off-kilter world of the fantastical.  I’d probably be a little more critical of the work if Rossmo were taking over art duties for the long haul, but since he is only contributing to Batman #7 and #8, I’m can abide by his work for the interim.

Checklist:

  • part 1 Batman #7  9-21
  • part 2 Nightwing #5  9-21
  • part 3 Detective Comics #941  9-28
  • part 4 Batman #8  10-5
  • part 5 Nightwing #6  10-5
  • part 6 Detective Comics #942 10-12

Recommended if…

  • You wanna see Batman take on 40 foot tall monsters….

Overall:

I went into this story with an extremely optimistic attitude, but by the end, I realized it was just more of the same that I had developed a distaste for from The New52.  On display, front and center, was the philosophy that bigger equals better.  And I simply have no more patience for that mind-set.  While I’m sure this story will feature plenty of over-the-top action sequences that will be fun in their own right, that alone is just not enough for me anymore.  When it comes down to it, this was just an average comic.  While there weren’t any major flaws to speak of, it also didn’t do anything to wow me.

SCORE:  5.5 / 10