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"Gotham City Monsters #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by DC Comics


Written by Steve Orlando
Illustrated by Amancay Nahuelpan
Colored by Trish Mulvihill
Lettered by Tom Napolitano
2019, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on September 11th, 2019


Leviathan has torn apart all kinds of organizations in the DC Universe, including S.H.A.D.E., leaving Frankenstein as a free agent. He's set his sights on Gotham City, where, in the shadows of giant monster skeletons, a dark evil rises. His former mentor, Melmoth, is returning and Frankenstein's not the only one who has noticed. This force has pulled the likes of Killer Croc, the vampire Andrew Bennett, and Lady Clayface towards the Magus Theatre as the real show begins.

I've noticed a trend over the past year or so where the Big Two publishers have embraced horror in a big way. DC Comics has had a nice focus here with books like Martian Manhunter, DCeased, and now Gotham City Monsters. There are a number of characters in the DC Universe that lurk in the shadows in a different way than Batman does. They are monsters through and through. This book puts a few of them together in an unlikely team.

Of course, the first rule of any super hero team up is that they have to fight first. In this case, they have to all get into the same place and since we're dealing with some lesser known characters, some introductions are required. Writer Steve Orlando gives us a good starting point for each of these monsters, including where their heads are. This helps understand their motivations and why they might leap into battle against a super-powerful Martian demon.

Click images to enlarge

It's been said that the sun never shines in Gotham City. That is definitely the case in this book. There's an ever-present darkness on every page. Colorist Trish Mulvihill casts a dreary tone over the city, perfect for the world-ending battle these characters are up against. You get the sense that this is an area of Gotham that even Batman doesn't spend much time in.

Mulvihill also matches up the color palette to the character during their introductions. For example, Bennett's scene is in mostly black, white, and red, with his alabaster skin shining through the darkness. When he literally pulls out a vampire's heart, the blood splashes across the page in in a vibrant crimson. Meanwhile, Killer Croc's scene is more dingy and dark, like he's just clawed his way out of the sewers and if we're being honest, he probably did.

Artist Amancay Nahuelpan does some tremendous work with the designs for each of these characters. While they're literally monsters, there's some humanity within them. They're fighting for what's good and right, despite how the world treats and fears them. You can see this in how they carry themselves and in the quiet moments when they're alone.

Click images to enlarge

Nahuelpan also adds to the feeling of dread that permeates throughout Gotham City Monsters with some excellent sequences. One that really freaked me out is how Lady Clayface moves and transforms, taking on different identities as needed, without knowing who she really is.

Letterer Tom Napolitano reinforces the monstrous qualities of these characters with some unique word balloons for each of them. Frankenstein's voice comes out in a dingy green, mirroring the undead nature of his body. Croc's is shown in a gruff, jagged font, like his words come from the deepest depths of the ocean.

I love when characters like these get the spotlight, even though they tend to stick to the shadows. Gotham City Monsters is a great example of the kinds of solid storytelling you can get when you dabble with the darker side of the DC Universe. This debut issue sets the stage for an epic battle between good and evil. The funny thing is the good guys are far from your typical heroes, but they're definitely the ones you want on your side in a fight like this.


Story: fivestars Cover
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Art: fivestars
Overall: 5 Star Rating

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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