Steve Orlando and Amancay Nahuelpan’s Gotham City Monsters is one of the biggest surprises from DC in the past few months. Every aspect of the book has been incredibly solid throughout its six issues, including the wonderfully moody colors by Trish Mulvihill and the great letters from Tom Napolitano who has juggled the large ensemble’s dialogue expertly. Gotham City Monsters #6 is a victory lap from the creative team and while there aren’t any major surprises in store for those who have tagged along, Orlando’s script gives the series the solid ending it deserves.
Orlando knows that the heavy lifting is done at this point in the story and gives Nahuelpan ample opportunity to dazzle readers with multiple splash pages in short succession. Nahuelpan’s pencils have been great throughout the series, but he delivers on the big action beats here at the books’ most important juncture. If there’s a moment in the art that threw me off, it was in the opening page. There’s a lot of negative space at the bottom of the page that is meant to be the swamp water, but the lack of detail other than the color gradient doesn’t make it readily apparent. That said, I do love the close up on Killer Croc and Frankenstein’s faces, which lets Nahuelpan show off his impressive detailing. These opening pages are intensely rich with spectacle even while the dialogue veers on expository to remind readers of the stakes. Another great splash page has Melmoth give readers a peek at every Gotham City in the multiverse which he seeks to destroy, which includes a great reference to the 1960s Batman television show. The meld between the cosmic and Gothic really works here and Orlando’s script deserves credit for carefully balancing the tone. Mulvihill’s colors also help bridge the gap in tones by not fully changing the palette whenever the books’ more sci-fi leanings creep into the plot.
Mulvihill makes the most of the swamp setting and maintains its eerie atmosphere with cool blue and green tones. Even more impressive is how Mulvihill manages to distinguish Killer Croc and Frankenstein’s green skin (or scales) from not only each other, but also the overtly green scenery. However, I find the splashes of orange and yellow during key action beats to be less effective than just letting the action play out without breaking the gloomy backdrops. It does prevent the book from being an overwhelming sickly green, but it takes me out of the moment more than adding a punch. Overall, the art team does a fantastic job despite these minor hiccups. Nahuelpan’s work with Melmoth is stellar as usual and I love the glee he exudes when he snaps his neck back into place after being stabbed through it. Even without any lettered sound effects, you can practically hear the crack of his neck as he turns to face his attacker. Nahuelpan’s figure work is stellar throughout and Orlando gives each team member their time to shine in the action. Orca, Bennett, and Lady Clay have the least to do as usual, but seeing Orca use Lady Clay as a pair of oversized gauntlets is a great moment. Unfortunately, Batwoman’s inclusion in the team never quite justifies itself and her presence among the monsters doesn’t connect to the larger themes at play. Her big moment is a swift kick to Melmoth’s face, but beyond a few action beats, Batwoman feels like a one-issue guest character that stuck around till the end of the series.
The Red Phantom ends up getting his big moment to shine here in the climax of the story. I really like the Red Phantom’s backstory and since he is an original character created by Orlando, I kept waiting for him to play a larger role. It thankfully comes here, with assistance from Frankenstein, and it makes for one of the more interesting visual moments of the issue. Frankenstein pummels Melmoth with the Red Phantom’s brick in a gorgeous two-page spread, with the Red Phantom’s spirit in the background of each blow. It’s a unique way to visualize the combination of physical and spiritual energy they use to attack Melmoth. So while not every character gets their unique moment to shine in equal measure here, Orlando gave each character enough moments throughout the six issue series to make the team fully fledged for the most part. I still don’t have a clear grasp on Orca beyond her devotion to her late nephew, but the potential of Lady Clay and the Red Phantom’s partnership is intriguing. I’d love to see the Red Phantom return in a different series and the door is left wide open for him to do so.
Gotham City Monsters #6 not only succeeds as a climax to the series, but also leaves each character with a good sense of progression and a new status quo to operate further in. Killer Croc takes over the motel in Monstertown, Lady Clay leaves with a newfound sense of identity, Red Phantom returns to his theater and so on. Even with the fast pace of the series, Orlando’s script leaves readers not only with an exciting action book, but a solid character piece that gives some underutilized characters an opportunity to shine.
- Last month’s cliffhanger caught your attention.
- Supporting a book that gives some underutilized characters time to shine is important to you.
- You’ve stuck around to see the series to the end.
Gotham City Monsters #6 is a rock solid conclusion to a great miniseries. It doesn’t take any major chances in terms of the plot, but Orlando and Nahuelpan have done more than enough to earn themselves a traditional, but satisfying final issue. While the entire ensemble didn’t gain the same amount of character development, I’d love a sequel to help amend that. Gotham City Monsters was a much more well rounded miniseries than expected and rose above the potential gimmicky nature of its title and gave Monstertown and its inhabitants well deserved time in the spotlight.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.