Batman and the Monster Men 1-6

Guest Post

I like Batman. I really do. I just don’t read any of his monthly titles. In these books, I feel he’s too weighed down by his eighty-plus years of continuity. He’s just better in smaller doses. So, when I learned that one of my favorite comic guys, Matt Wagner, wrote and drew the miniseries Batman and the Monster Men, I decided to pick it up.

I was not disappointed.

Set in Batman’s first year of crime fighting, the tale involves the mob, a twisted scientist and some of his spoiled experiments. Batman gets involved when Jim Gordon asks him to investigate a recent mob hit. The trail leads to one Doctor… wait, I mean Professor Strange, a scientist who keeps his genetic freaks locked in his basement to do his dirty work. Will the Dark Knight be able to hold his own against these Monster Men? Will he be able to maintain his rich playboy life style after the beating he takes at the hands of the Monster Men? All those questions answered, plus the debut of the Batmobile!

Aside from writing this tale, Matt Wagner also takes the credit as penciler. His art is wonderful – almost reminiscent of his Batman/Grendel work (one panel in the sewers is almost taken right from Grendel/Batman II). It really is a joy to see such a talented artist work with such a versatile character, but Wagner’s art does lack a bit in the action scenes. They just feel static. This isn’t the first time I’ve said this, but Matt Wagner does better with the whole before-then-after panel structure. He knows how to show that a fight went on and people got hurt, but the reader never sees a single punch thrown. That critique aside (and it really is a minor one) this was a great miniseries.

So, if you’re looking to read some Batman that isn’t caught up in whatever DC Crisis event that goes on down the road, Batman and the Monster Men is sure to fit the bill. And if you liked this series, check out some of Wagner’s other DC works, like Sandman Mystery Theater, Trinity and Batman and the Mad Monk.