Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Amancay Nahuelpan
Colorist: Trish Mulvihill
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Cover Artist: Philip Tan
Editor: Jamie S. Rich
Publisher: DC Comics
There’s an old saying that goes “the only thing that can kill a monster, is a bigger monster”… ok so I made that up, but it sounds cool, right? It also perfectly sums up the idea behind Gotham City Monsters #1. Sometimes, the things that go bump in the night threaten Gotham, and Batman can’t handle them. When that happens, we need to send in the monstrosities to do the monstrous.
With Halloween just over a month away, Gotham City Monsters is the perfect book to get into the spooky spirit. Monster Town — an aptly named neighborhood of Gotham City where hard-working and marginalized monsters live — is housing a mysterious cult attempting to resurrect a familiar villain. With Bane controlling Gotham City, and the bat crew out of commission, it’s up to a vampire, a killer whale, a crocodile, a shapeshifter, and a dead man made from the parts of other dead men to team up and stop the approaching doom.
After the destruction of S.H.A.D.E. during the Event Leviathan storyline currently running through many of DC’s books, Frankenstein’s base of operations is gone. That doesn’t stop him from closing out one last case, though, and he’s thrust into the thick of a bar brawl in Monster Town where he discovers a far deadlier evil threatening an already tumultuous DC landscape. This puts him on a collision course with Andrew Bennet — better known as I, Vampire — who’s also hunting the origins of this maleficent foe. Add in a dash of hidden agendas, a pinch of seeking redemption, and a touch of machismo, and we’ve got ourselves the batter to bake the perfect ragtag team-up cake!
Written by Steve Orlando, with art by Amancay Nahuelpan, Gotham City Monsters weaves multiple introductory threads into one cohesive story. Frankenstein, Andrew Bennett (I, Vampire), Killer Croc, Orca, and Lady Clay each get a quick status update tragically foreshadowing how these characters are going to come together. These five “heroes” make up the bulk of the monster squad that will be running through this mini-series with a hinted sixth member still to come.
Orlando — who has a penchant for penning high-energy stories showcasing what the innards of various creatures look like when forced out of their fleshy housing — packs quite the narrative punch in Gotham City Monsters. The story moves at a break-neck pace and comes dangerously close to trying to fit too much story into too little space. By the end of the issue, however, he’s masterfully made it work so that the reader catches all the sights just in time. Everything’s prepared perfectly as a gateway to the rest of the series, and while Orlando stamps his signature voice on this mash-up of monsters, it’s Nahuelpan’s art that truly solidifies this issue as a favorite amongst this week’s releases.
Nahuelpan makes the big action violent and the small moments matter. His ability to subtly convey inner tragedy on the face of disfigured anti-heroes is a skill he thankfully flaunts here. A few times in the issue, Nahuelpan’s panel progression does get a little confusing to follow, but it’s easy to recover from while maintaining your immersion in the story. Yet his true strength in Gotham City Monsters lies in his over-the-top depictions of gore and guts. Specifically a splash-page that has Frankenstein viciously dispatching a diseased adversary while lamenting about the cruelties of life. Sound hardcore? It is, and it’s exactly what you paid for.
Gotham City Monsters #1 is a strong introduction to a band of creepy characters. It’s grimy and grotesque, often reveling in its own brutality. Exactly the kind of content you want from a comicbook that has “Monsters” in the title. Above all of that, though, Gotham City Monsters is simply a very fun romp through through the horror-filled corners of the DC Universe.