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COMIC REVIEW:
BATMAN AND THE MONSTER MEN

Author: Bill Ramey
Friday, September 15, 2006

From DC COMICS:

Matt Wagner takes the Dark Knight through his sophomore season in this new trade paperback collecting the 6-issue miniseries!

Batman has spent his first year fighting organized crime — but nothing thus far in his early career as the Caped Crusader has prepared him for the new menace facing Gotham: super-powered villains!

Written by Matt Wagner; Art and cover by Wagner

As most of you regular readers know (as I’ve said probably too many times of late), I once again became a regular reader of the Batman comics late last year (2005). Also, (As I’ve said many times as well) I’ve genuinely enjoyed the Bat-titles and have become quite the Bat-comic book fan once again.

While browsing the titles at the comic book shop I frequent, I picked up a copy of BATMAN AND THE MAD MONK #1 (check out my review HERE) and dug it tremendously. Doing a bit of research, I discovered that BATMAN AND THE MAD MONK was sort of a sequel to BATMAN AND THE MONSTER MEN. I decided that I'd give it a shot next time I was at the comic shop.

Then low and behold, a copy of BATMAN AND THE MONSTER MEN arrived in this month's batch of comics I received from DC.

BATMM is set early in the career of The Dark Knight. As I said, it takes place after the events of YEAR ONE -- there is no Robin, no Joker (But we do get a secondhand look at “The Red Hood“), and the Batmobile is in its primitive stages. The Batman has earned the friendship and trust of Captain Jim Gordon on the Gotham Police force, as well as the fear of Gotham’s mobsters. He is fully engrossed in his mission to rid Gotham of the crime families that have taken over the city.

In fact, this Batman is one who believes that he’s close to succeeding. While focused and intense, Wagner gives us a likable Batman -- unlike the moody and obsessive one featured throughout the 90s and up to recently in the comics. Hell, Bruce Wayne even has a girlfriend in the young and hot-looking Julie Madison.

I like this Batman!

To be honest, I didn’t think I’d like this story based on its title. I prefer my Batman stories to be grounded in “reality;” well, as real as you can get when the main character dresses up like a giant bat and fights crime. Batman fighting “monster men” didn’t sound like my cup of tea; so I didn’t read the individual issues as they were released back in 2005.

In hindsight, my loss.

BATMM features The Batman’s first encounter with a true “super villain” in the form of Dr. Hugo Strange. It also features mob boss Salvatore Maroni is who secretly, and unknowingly, funding Strange’s genetic experiments. These experiments -- which were meant to engineer a perfect human -- have produced grotesque, huge, and man-eating creatures.

The Monster Men, if you will.

Wagner does a wonderful job portraying the young Dark Knight as I found this Batman to be a very human and interesting character. I loved the fact he’s still a bit green and definitely fine-tuning “The Batman” persona.

The artwork is superb as well as Wagner’s Batman pays homage to YEAR ONE, while adding his own distinct touch. Gotham is, as it should be, noir and gloomy.

BATMAN AND THE MONSTER MEN is one of the best Batman tales I’ve read. It features some great confrontations between Batman and “normal criminals” (The Mob), as well as “super villains” (Dr. Hugo Strange, the monster men). The thing I surprisingly liked was how “realistic” these monster men are portrayed. Yes they are “monster men,” but in context of the story, they are believable.

If you were like me and passed on BATMAN AND THE MONSTER MEN, now is the perfect time to make up for that mistake.

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Bill Ramey, AKA "Jett," is the founder and editor in chief of
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