REVIEW: ‘Gotham City Monsters,’ Issue #1 (of 6)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Gotham City Monsters #1

Gotham City Monster #1 is written by Steve Orlando, with art from Amancay Nahuelpan, colors by Trish Mulvihill, and letters by Tom Napolitano, and marks a split off from Event Leviathan’s multiverse shaking event. Now that S.H.A.D.E. has been broken apart, Frankenstein is all alone and has set his sights on his former mentor, Melmoth in this six-part mini-series. But, it’s gonna take more than one monster to take down Melmoth, so he recruits Killer Croc, Lady Clayface, Orca, and vampire Andrew Bennet.

Gotham City Monsters #1 is a horror comic that brings me back to the Universal Monsters of old. The pages of the comic, published by DC Comics, perfectly blends both Universal and Hammer horror beautifully. With the “civilized” parts of Gotham in Bane’s control, Monstertown is a haven for those who don’t fit in anywhere else. Gotham City Monsters #1 is a first issue in every sense. The characters are introduced, their troubles are shown at a high level, and a big bad emerges from the ether to act as a bonding form.

The overall story is formulaic but it works because the draw of Gotham City Monsters isn’t the grand story but the monsters themselves. In the same way the Universal Monsters came into horror fans hearts and have inspired generations of creators, the monsters of this mini-series are our focus, the setting is just the backdrop, and the big bad means nothing without bonds drawn between the characters or created with the readers.

Gotham City Monsters #1

In each small introduction, Orlando brings empathy to them. Empathy for monsters is what has solidified Guillermo del Toro’s career and it’s what brings us back to the same monster stories repeatedly, especially Frankenstein. While DC’s and Orlando’s version of the monster is very different than other versions, the longevity of the name and iconic green skin and bolts is a testament to the character. Joining him, we see a cast of characters that are all tortured in their own ways.

Killer Croc, set on turning his life around after being released from the Suicide Squad while the world around him refuses to see him anything but a villain. The vampire Andrew Bennet has met his vampiric match. Lady Clayface is lost, unaware of who she is. And Orca is relegated to myth, desperate to return to her family. By focusing on each of these characters individually, Orlando showcases his knowledge of monsters.

While we get time with these traumatic monsters, Nahuelpan’s art brings a completely different kind of horror, the kind with guts, fighting, and fire. His art is graphic and gorgeous. Croc’s face is emotive through his scales, Lady Clayface’s identities are melting with dread, and the action is just what I expect from a monster comic from the pulp days. The colors from Mulvihill accentuate it all. Gorgeous reds soaking the page. Meanwhile, the green smoke is atmospheric on the final page and Andrew Bennett’s concrete gray skin is the perfect balance of death and life.

Finally, the unique speech balloons crafted for each character by letterer Napolitano gives the issue depth and brings the characters to life more so than if they were all treated with the same brush. Instead, we see their identities in their speech which brings immersion and also helps bring empathy between reader and character in tandem with Orlando’s words.

Overall, Gotham City Monsters #1 is not going to be for everyone, but for those of us who can spot a great monster tale in a formulaic structure, it’s going to hit like Frankenstein’s sword. As a horror fan, as a monster fan, Gotham City Monsters is my jam.

Gotham City Monsters #1 is now available where comics are sold.

Gotham City Monsters #1
5

TL;DR

Overall, Gotham City Monsters #1 is not going to be for everyone, but for those of us who can spot a great monster tale in a formulaic structure, it’s going to hit like Frankenstein’s sword. As a horror fan, as a monster fan, Gotham City Monsters is my jam.