Batman has a great set of villains. We've seen him fight pretty much everyone. He's known as always being prepared to take on any situation. Does that include fighting giant kaiju/Godzilla-like creatures?
DC has exclusively told us about the upcoming six-part Night of the Monster Men arc beginning in September and running through three titles. Steve Orlando is basically the showrunner for the story, working with the other writers. Riley Rossmo is handling the art designs and drawing a couple of the issues. We spoke to Steve about what we can expect. (You can read our interview with Riley here).
Comic Vine: 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 Batman #1 1940). 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.
For Night of the Monster Men, since we relaunched Batman #1, it felt right to get in the ring with them again. This time we're going to do something even wilder and crazier with them than has ever been done before. This will be Monster Men unlike any you've ever seen. It'll be sort of Kaiju horror that touches Gotham City in a way you've never seen before. In light of Rebirth, we have all the fun tech and games in Detective Comics, Nightwing, and the no-holds barred take Tom is doing on Batman, this is cool Batman. New technology—you'll see him do things in Monster Men he's never done before. I couldn't be more excited about that.
What titles will this crossover into? Will there be a self contained intro book and ending?
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 bookend issues or will it just begin in one of the existing titles?
As someone who grew up reading Age of Apocalypse, I'm all for big bookend books and things like that. However, this is all about getting in and getting out and doing things in a wonderful and compact way. We want to give people an epic right in time for Halloween that doesn't require more work than they're already doing. If you're picking up these titles, you'll have everything you need starting in Batman and going through Nightwing and Detective Comics.
Will the issues be sequential parts of the story or happen side by side separately?
The reading order will be sequential. It'll be Batman, Nightwing, Detective in September followed by Batman, Nightwing, and Detective in October. Hopefully you're picking them all up, but if you just pick up Nightwing or you miss one, we'll get you up to speed in the next book.
Will there be any characters from outside the related titles?
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.
How closely will you be working with the writers of the other titles? Are you just laying out the groundwork or working with them issue by issue?
I'm in constant contact with all those guys. As it's been said, this is something I'm sort of showrunning. I'm plotting and scripting so there's cohesion within the books. Similarly, Riley's the lead artist, but I've seen pages from Andy MacDonald and Roge Antonio who are doing the Nightwing and Detective issues. Everyone is putting in their most amazing work I've ever seen from them.
But with me being the showrunner, that doesn't mean I'm not talking to the others. I talk to Tom, Tim, and James almost everyday when I'm working on these scripts to make sure we're pushing forward the things they need. That's why they're co-plotting their issues with me. I'm working heavily with them, and we also check in with Scott [Snyder] to make sure everyone is sounding right and everything is ringing true. I check in with them pretty frequently. For better or for worse, when you work in comics, you're basically sitting in your office pestering each other all the time because you don't go outside when it's sunny.
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?
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.
How's it feel taking on this first Batman Rebirth crossover?
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.
Anything else you want to add?
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.
Night of the Monster Men begins on September 21 in Batman #7. You can read our interview with Riley Rossmo and see concept art here.