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Batman: Monsters


Written by James Robinson, Warren Ellis, and Alan Grant; Art by John Watkiss, John McCrea, and Quique Alcatena

Oct 27, 2009 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The quick and dirty critique for DC’s very seasonal paperback, Batman: Monsters, is that it’s an underwhelming string of fright fiction. Think of it as a classier, print version of the animated movie, The Batman vs. Dracula. Writers James Robinson, Warren Ellis, and Alan Grant and moody artists John Watkiss, John McCrea, and Quique Alcatena ably vault over the low narrative bar these three comics setup. The trade collects Legends of the Dark Knight #71-73, 83, 84, 89, and 90 and finds Batman investigating murders that seem to have been perpetrated by a werewolf, fighting bio-engineered soldiers (with a gun!?), and being caught up in a tragic retelling of archfiend Clayface’s origin.

Batman: Monsters’ leadoff tale is a clunky, pedestrian three-part comic, entitled Werewolf. Essentially it’s a whodunit that leads detective Bats to a supernatural cause. Watkiss’ depictions of the human face are odd and chunky and colorist Digital Chameleon’s palette is very undynamic and even mottled in spots. Robinson spins a fun, campy, and mysterious through-line but the surprise ending is nothing short of shabby. To somewhat borrow a line from The Dark Knight, Batman deserves a better class of writer.

Ellis and McCrea’s Infected is by far the best all-around package and was even quite controversial when it first arrived in the summer of 1996. As already stated above, the narrative had the very anti-gun Bats fighting off viral killing machines with a gun. Ellis treats the situation delicately with some internal dialogue from the Caped Crusader: “I tell myself it’s the only way at this point. And try not the enjoy the relief that is seems to be working.” McCrea’s depiction of Batman is slightly surreal—much like the rest of the iterations here. Infected is a fun conflation of Resident Evil and Planet Terror that’s brooding but action-packed.

The final segment is a Clayface origin story by scrib Alan Grant (Clay) that sticks to DC’s second version of Clayface. A treasure-seeking Matthew Hagen tries to escape from a gang he bamboozled, and finds a strange radioactive pool of protoplasm in an underwater cave. After falling in the glop, he can shape into almost anything he desires. Clayface’s origin has always been a tragically engaging, Frankenstein-esque transformation but it was better depicted in Batman: The Animated Series when he was an actor wrestling with age. Alcatena’s earthy color palette is probably the best in this collection and works well for the titular villain. Alcatena especially has fun with the action sequences involving Batman.

All things being said, Batman: Monsters is a fun romp that won’t require you to fire off too many brain synapses before your Halloween party starts. One would hope DC packages some better examples of the horror genre for Batman fans because there are definitely better examples to be found from the Legends of the Dark Knight series. These comics unfortunately have a ‘90s time stamp because in the age of Grant Morrison and Christopher Nolan, Batman wouldn’t be caught dead (too late!) fighting werewolves, zombies, or ghouls. If you are looking for this type of superhero genre mashup look to Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, or Batman/Hellboy/Starman. (

Author rating: 6/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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September 17th 2011

good post.. i really like Batman…