I See A Dark Moon Rising
First Appearance in Canon Of: The Batmobile, Sal Maroni, Julie Madison and the first mention of Lucius Fox.
This Was No Massacre….it was a feeding frenzy
We are back with our Batman Read Through. Still in his early years we follow Batman through his first real test physically and mentally.
I still class this as being set within Batman’s first 18 months so there are quite a few introductions here.
Strange Things Are Happening In Gotham
The book’s plot is shown from multiple perspectives throughout. We follow inner monologues of heroes and villains and they all neatly intertwined to present a cohesive and enjoyable story. It follows Hugo strange as he develops a serum which turns ordinary people into Monsters, Batman is hot on his trail and there are a few run ins with the mob that show just how dirty Gotham can be. This story still holds up today and it’s a shame that DC are kind of remaking this with Rebirth as this is a classic that is already perfect and doesn’t need a redux.
I love how the stakes are constantly ramped up throughout the book, some characters break completely and others get through by the skin of their teeth. No one has an easy ride.
“Can’t Afford A Concussion. Concentrate”
Batman is at one point thrown into the lions den and it’s the first time we really fear for the Caped Crusader in this run. He barely gets out of the fight alive (spoiler alert, he makes it) only by using his cunning and quick wits.
There are two main villains to the piece. Sal Maroni and Hugo Strange. We only really see things from Strange’s perspective and he’s an evil…though likeable villain. I was rooting for him to get away with everything by the end and he is smart enough to do so. He does wicked things but you get the reasoning behind them whereas Sal Maroni just seems to be bad because he’s a bad person. Strange’s wickedness you can somewhat justify even though you’d be Monster (oop the puns have started) to agree with it.
Bruce’s First Love…..after Justice
There is a great human side to the story too, we follow Julie Madison as she falls deeper in love with Bruce Wayne and her father who get’s caught up in the mob and is slowly destroyed psychologically over time by it.
Jim Gordon is peppered throughout, though not as much as Year One, he still has some great moments interacting with the Batman and questioning whether he should be working with him at all.
This is the first time Gordon questions whether Batman is sane.
“What The Hell Is Happening To This City”
The story has so much cohesiveness there is no wasted panels throughout the entire run. Everything means something and builds towards a plot point. This is as good as it gets in comics.
The fact that Matt Wagner managed to pull off both the art and story at this level is amazing.
And that brings us to the art.
Totally stylized, grounded and breathtaking. There is an luscious use of silouhette throughout the pages and a repetitive nature to the art that enforces the work. The splash pages are mirrored throughout i.e. we see a severed hand on one splash page, the next splash is batman’s gloved hand . It is little nuiances like this that show just how well crafted the book is. Wagner knows where he’s going from the first page of the book and he expertly takes you on a journey with a satisfying end.
This is part one of the Dark Moon Rising saga by Wagner and like any good part one it finishes on a cliffhanger. One of our characters is broken and I know from already reading part two how well this plays out.
Monster Men is the perfect Batman story, it has great Batman, Bruce Wayne and Villain moments. Every character gets the spotlight at some point and the book is so well put together in both it’s art and story telling that it is hard to find fault. This is a Batman still finding his feet and this Year Two-ish story really gets you invested in the character.
Though it now fetches a really steep price online this is a must buy for any fan.
It’s gonna be controversial but I prefer this book to Year One.
I said it.
If you’ve been following my reviews then you know that i’m ranking the books as I read them in what all the fans of me lovingly call ‘Rank As I Read’ or ‘Rank As You Read’…I don’t know, I can’t remember, you do though as you’re a proper fan.
So here is the leaderboard so far.