Detective Comics #941
Written by Steve Orlando and James Tynion IV
Art by Andy MacDonald and John Rauch
Lettered by Marilyn Patrizio
Published by DC Comics
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
This issue of Detective Comics brings us to "Night of the Monster Men"’s halfway point and firmly cements that it’s designed to be a team-up summer blockbuster, as Gotham’s heroes defend the city from the horde of enemies. This results in an entertaining issue where the characters let the punches fly and trade some banter, but as this is the second issue in a row to do this, it’s starting to wear a little thin, even if those elements are more refined and a heartfelt story beat gets thrown into the fray.
After the first third of the crossover had to catch people up who weren’t reading all three Bat-books and get each of the players involved to where they needed to be, writer Steve Orlando is now able to get into the meat of the story. As a result, the issue has a reduced focus on Batman and Batwoman and devotes most of its attention to the other two pairings - Gotham Girl and Nightwing, and Orphan and Spoiler.
This allows for meaningful development when it comes to Gotham Girl as she recovers from her mind being tampered with by Psycho Pirate in Batman’s first arc. The Monster Men give her a physical manifestation of her issues to confront. In conjunction with this, working with Nightwing allows her to discuss her problems like she has with Batman prior, albeit with someone who exhibits more people skills than Bruce.
While the issue also checks with Duke and Alfred back in the Batcave as well as Clayface on the streets in order to nudge those factors of the plot forward, we get to spend more time in the caves of Gotham as chaos ensues leaving Spoiler and Orphan to contend with a mob of enraged citizens. As Cassandra Cain is a girl of few words, the voice of the people becomes the defining sound during these scenes. Andy MacDonald’s art reflects this so the pair are always surrounded on all sides, fighting against seemingly insurmountable odds in the claustrophobic confines of the caverns.
MacDonald also continues the trend of dynamic splash pages which showcase the 'Monster Men' as these grotesque beasts that fits with the initial idea that sparked this crossover – Batman versus laiju. In Blackgate, he’s able to show the extent of Gotham Girl’s strength when she doesn’t hold back and delivers some truly kinetic action regardless of if it’s the agile pairing of Spoiler and Orphan bounding around underground or Gotham Girl getting to the heart of the matter when it comes to one of the Monster Men.
John Rauch’s colors create distinct lighting for each location featured and once the issue starts cutting between the locales more and more, they work in helping the reader keep their bearings so they can tell visually if they’re on the streets or in Blackgate. Marilyn Patrizio’s lettering helps to create a beat for the dialogue as the book bounces back and forth between the various locales.
With all of this in mind, though, the crossover is showing signs of stagnation. There’s nothing wrong per se with the ground the crossover has covered thus far, just it would be disappointing if it never got a chance to do something other than have each pairing fight their own Monster Man. As of this issue, it’s still entertaining thanks to the willingness of the artists involved like MacDonald to make it bombastic, but it could very easily become monotonous should this trend continue into the final half of the crossover. Hopefully Hugo Strange has more up his sleeve come October to shake things up beyond what the final page of the issue suggests.
Orlando has been able to find a nice balance between the major players involved in the arc thus far, and that dynamic improves in this issue now the expository dialogue is out of the way and we’re into the thick of things. However, this issue could be a warning that the thick of things isn’t that thick. The creative team deliver a solid issue with strong action and some interesting character development, but the third issue of purely fighting the Monster Men may leave you wishing that Batman #8 shakes things up dramatically come October.