Gotham City Monsters #1 – Steve Orlando, Writer; Amancay Nahuelpan, Artist; Trish Mulvihill, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: Steve Orlando’s developed a reputation for being one of the best writers for exploring the weird and creepy corners of the DCU, and before he heads off to his first A-list franchise book in a few months, he’s got one more tale of the macabre for us, staring with Gotham City Monsters #1.
Taking place in the one corner of Gotham not taken over by Bane – Monster Town, the ruins from Night of the Monster Men – it features an unusual team of antiheroes forced together by dark circumstances that have surprising ties to another of Orlando’s recent books. A lot of these characters are ones I’ve been waiting for someone to bring back from limbo or do justice to again. Killer Croc has been released from the Suicide Squad and is trying to turn over a new leaf. Andrew Bennett is on the trail of a mysterious new vampire overlord. Frankenstein is still doing his thing, killing rogue monsters like a bizarre Mad Cow monster. Two more obscure monsters round out the cast – Croc’s love from the Injusticeverse, Orca, and shape-shifting cult survivor Lady Clay.
This is a very episodic story, with few of the characters meeting before the final act. Only Frankenstein and I, Vampire encounter each other – something that turns violent quickly – but the other characters are lost in their own story, each given a personal conflict and a humanizing touch that reminds us that these “monsters” are no less human.
I was particularly fond of Croc’s fellow mutant Tusk. Lurking in the background is a mystery involving tickets to an unusual opera, and a lurking threat of an ancient Martian demon emperor looking to be resurrected. Then, in the last few pages this story takes an incredibly dark and tragic turn that took me by surprise and indicates this will be one of Orlando’s darkest stories. There’s some lost potential in this story, but there’s also a real sense of urgency. Combined with Amancay Nahuelpan’s vivid art that captures the horror of the events effectively, this series is off to an intriguing start.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.