Review – Gotham City Monsters #2: Enter the Red Phantom

Comic Books DC This Week
Gotham City Monsters #2
Gotham City Monsters #2 cover, via DC Comics.

Gotham City Monsters #2 – Steve Orlando, Writer; Amancay Nahuelpan, Artist; Trish Mulvihill, Colorist

Ray – 8.5/10

Ray: Steve Orlando’s Gotham City Monsters takes us to the darkest corners of the DCU with a mystery set in Monster Town as an ancient villain returns to exact a terrible price. That villain is Melmoth, most famous for fighting Frankenstein in Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers epic – the ending of which he references in Gotham City Monsters #2.

Orlando always does his homework, which is a big appeal of his writing, and in many ways he’s becoming the heir to Morrison with his deep cuts from DC history. When we last left off, Melmoth had committed a sacrifice that claimed the life of one person tied to each of the cast in one way or another, setting them on a quest for vengeance. The team is still getting pulled together this issue, but the individual scenes are strong. I was particularly intrigued by the unique take on Lady Clay’s identity issues, and Killer Croc’s employment troubles will be familiar to anyone who knows about the prison system.

Gotham City Monsters #2
Frankenstein’s rage. Via DC Comics.

But the part of this issue that intrigued me the most is the original character Orlando introduces here, the Red Phantom. This mysterious magician who turns into a horrific demon turns out to be a ghost of the theater, a gay man murdered there decades ago. It’s rare to see a gay character in a period piece, and it’s even rarer to see a murdered gay character who gets to come back and be the hero of his own story anyway.

Red Phantom seems like a more human version of classic DC ghost characters like Spectre and Phantom Stranger, and his partnership with Frankenstein and Andrew Bennett is off to a good start. I’m not thrilled with the idea of starting a series with a massacre – including of a child with ties to Orca – but Orlando’s working with some of the best freaks and misfits of the DCU and giving layers to some like Killer Croc that we rarely see. This is the kind of weird book I want to see more of.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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