Batman and Allies to Fight Giant Kaiju Creatures
Batman is usually always prepared for everything. Will he be prepared for Godzilla-like creatures?
Batman is widely known for his great rogues gallery. He has some of the most colorful villains in comics. Batman is also known for being prepared and having a contingency plan for anything. Do those contingency plans include fighting giant Kaiju creatures attacking Gotham City?
This fall, DC Comics is launching a six-part Night of the Monster Men story arc. It'll run through three different titles in September and October. The story is an updated take on the classic story from 1940's Batman #1: "Professor Hugo Strange and the Monsters." The monsters will be on a much bigger scale this time. We exclusively talked to writer Steve Orlando and artist Riley Rossmo about this upcoming story.
GameSpot: What can you tell us about Night of the Monster Men?
Steve Orlando: It's probably going to be one of the maddest and wildest Batman stories in a long time. People who have read my issues of Batman and Robin Eternal or Midnighter, which is hopefully everybody, know I like a certain brand of high octane, action movie type stories. When Mark [Doyle], Tim [Seeley], Tom [King], and James [Tynion IV] reached out to me about finding something to bring the books together, Monster Men sort of jumped into my head starting with these base images of the Bat-Family fighting something that is just bigger than anything they've ever fought before.
In the case of the Monster Men, I mean literally bigger. How does Batman, a man who has a plan for everything, deal with catastrophic Toho-style attacks on Gotham City? Along with that, I was especially excited to work with the Monster Men from a nerd standpoint because they showed up in the original Batman #1. They were in one of the three stories, and I think they're a historic group of characters. They haven't really appeared too much since then. There was a great mini-series by Matt Wagner, but in general, they haven't shown up that much for characters that have been with Batman for over six decades.
How would you describe the sorts of monsters we'll be seeing?
Riley Rossmo: They're kind of kaiju, I guess. They're like Pacific Rim-scale monsters, for the most part.
How big are you talking?
Rossmo: That's a good question. There's a bunch of different ones. The smallest one is sort of like the queen from Aliens. There's one kind of like the Slurm Queen in Futurama. The biggest ones are like Godzilla-scale.
How many different types are you designing?
Rossmo: There's five, but then some of the cast members get infected. There'll be some monster-versions of some of the Bat-Family.
What titles will this crossover into? Will there be a self contained intro book and ending?
Orlando: The cool thing about Monster Men is we'll be pushing all the stories forward. All the threads you're reading in Nightwing, Detective Comics, and Batman—everything Batman is dealing with with Gotham and Gotham Girl (two new heroes) will play directly into Monster Men. You'll see the sort of rift or tension between the different ways Batman and Nightwing do things is central to Monster Men and that comes out in Nightwing. Also, the idea that Batman has trusted Batwoman, and he knows there's something she can do better than he can in the pages of Detective. There's the idea that when something is too big for Bruce Wayne, the Bat-Family is now more than just one guy. That's the idea that kicks off in Detective. To move forward, we need to train the next generation and find a way to do what we do, better.
One of the things I've always found interesting about Batman is the intense bravery and futility in the character. That's not to say that Batman is futile. He's only human. Every time Batman saves someone from a mugging in Gotham City, odds are someone is getting mugged somewhere else. That's the sad and truth about Batman, but it also makes him incredibly inspiring. He never stops. That's also the reason Batman is looking for new ways to be in more places at once. When you have a threat of this scale, when you have the Monster Men coming to Gotham City, there's no better time to put that on display to see if it works or doesn't work.
Will there be any characters from outside the related titles?
Orlando: Well, I can say there will be a lot of Bat-Family characters in it. Working with Riley, the minute I sort of pitched him what these monsters were going to look like…when you work with Riley, it's not necessarily telling him what they'll look like, it's more like an email exchange of grotesquery we found in the animal kingdom. We talked about how we would put these into the designs. I knew immediately we were going to have to get him to draw as much cool stuff as possible.
We want to make [the book] as welcoming as we can for everyone following those titles. Everyone will see this is basically like a summer crossover in six issues. We'll have the characters from all the books, not just the lead characters. You'll see the GCPD involved, and you'll also have five new monsters that are truly brand new. They have fresh and exciting new designs that really are unlike anything you've seen Batman go up against before. I will say it is Night of the Monster Men. This story, much like many disaster stories, takes place over one night. We will be focusing on the cast of those main books and anyone else that could conceivably get there in time to help before the city is rubble.
Is this the first time Gotham has had to deal with something on this scale?
Rossmo: Yeah, I believe so. I think its the first time Batman has fought Godzilla—something like Godzilla.
For the people in Gotham, it's going to be time to go on vacation or move away?
Rossmo: Yeah, it takes place when a hurricane comes through Gotham. It coincides with the rise of the Monster Men. That's the night they reveal themselves.
You mentioned the Monster Men haven't really been used a lot. If we're going to have these giant monsters, how would you say this compares to past Batman crossovers?
Orlando: There's been a lot of Batman crossovers. To me, Night of the Monster Men, especially when it's coming out, it's big and grandiose, but it's fun. Going back to 1989, it's like, "Where does he get those wonderful toys?" It's 2016. We have to give Batman even more wonderful toys. I think we haven't seen a story like this in a while in Gotham City or since Rebirth. We also haven't mashed up the genre of Batman with these Godzilla or Toho styles of element. It's like when you had Ultraman or Mecha Godzilla. There's a sense of fun to it. It's giant monsters, and it's lovably insane. At the same time, you have a guy with a plan for everything. I'm really excited about it because I think crossovers aren't foreign to the Batman Universe, but these massive and out of this world things are. It'll be cool to see Batman here. What makes Batman Batman remains the same. It almost doesn't matter if he's fighting a mugger or going up against a 30-story behemoth. There's definitely real danger in the book. There's real danger in the DC Universe, but it's all about meeting it with a sense of no-holds-barred.
What kind of gadgets or tools are you designing for Batman and his allies to fight them off?
Rossmo: There's a rocket pack that's pretty awesome. There's a sort of jet ski rocket cycle. I guess there's a lot of rocket stuff in it. There's like air-motorcylces, almost like speeder bikes (in Return of the Jedi). I don't want to give too much away because it's cool, but Batman has an exo-suit like Hulkbuster Iron Man so he can go hand-to-hand with one of the giant monsters.
How's it feel taking on this first Batman Rebirth crossover?
Orlando: I'm nervous. There's a lot on my mind, but honestly, it's an honor to be doing it. I'm a huge comics history nerd. The offer to do this was something I just couldn't ignore. We're not just relaunching Batman with a new number one. We're also getting to go back to the Monster Men. Like I said, it's something that deserves to be a pillar with how early they showed up in Batman's history. That couldn't get any better for me.
Riley, what was your first thought in getting the chance to draw Batman fighting kaiju?
Rossmo: I'm a fan of the original Monster Men, and I liked the Matt Wagner story so the fanboy part of me was squealing. Squealing with delight. Then I started thinking about the mechanics of how you draw things and show scale with tiny little people fighting giant monsters. Then things like the Batman rocket pack becomes a really cool device so you can show the silhouette of this batarang-thing fighting a giant monster. I thought about the different ways to incorporate the scale. That's the technically interesting part—keeping the immediacy of battles, but you'd only be able to show little bits and pieces of monsters if you want close up of the figures.
Anything else you want to add?
Orlando: I pitched Riley some of the craziest things I ever put into a book. I can't underscore how amazing he's been with all the designs he's doing for this. Whether it's the Monster Men themselves, Batman's technology, sometimes I'd be like, "Oh man, this idea is too weird." He'd make it cooler than you could ever imagine. I just can't wait for people to see what he's doing along with what Roge and Andy are doing on the book. There is Batman action and Batman armors you never thought of before. I can't wait for everybody to see it on the page. It's going to be really, really fun.
Rossmo: There's this Clayface/Batman team-up section that's going to be fantastic.
Night of the Monster Men takes place in September and October. The story begins in Batman #7 (9/21), followed by Nightwing #5 (9/21), and Detective Comics #941 (9/28).
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