All good things come to an end, sadly. Fortunately, so do all not-so-good things. The Night of the Monster Men unfortunately ceases to be goofy fun with Detective Comics #942. It isn’t really a terrible issue, but it isn’t original or interesting, either. And, since it is the last installment of the crossover, it means the whole effort ends in disappointment and failed potential.
The central portion of the book concerns Batman’s confrontation with Hugo Strange. This unfolds while Nightwing dives, literally, down the gullet of the last and largest monster formed from the venom-based poison Strange has loosed on Gotham. Nightwing’s action is not quite as foolhardy as it seems, since he is carrying the anti-toxin as he plunges. Somehow, however, he is prompted by his realization of what Strange was attempting with his monsters and why Strange was mistaken. How he realizes Strange’s plan was explained in the last installment of the story, but why this realization moves him to such spectacular acrobatics is completely unclear. He simply leaps, pun intended, with a burst of pure intuition that one supposes is prompted by his intimate relationship with the Dark Knight. Interviews and solicits indicate that a fallout between Bruce and Dick is in the offing (that is about the 132nd, if you keep track of them as they go by), and perhaps a fuller explanation will be forthcoming in the event.
The mistake Strange made is revealed in parallel scenes of dialogue, Batman confronting Strange, Nightwing talking to Batwoman. Strange created monsters to represent fear, manipulation, ego, and childishness, the great psychological weaknesses of Batman. But they aren’t weaknesses, at least not as Strange understands them. What most people deny and suppress, Batman embraces. What weakens most men, strengthens the Bat. What is the destruction of an ordinary man, is fuel to Batman.
The problem is that none of these insights are new or interesting. Pop Freudianism is a weary companion to Batman. The confrontations with Strange and the monsters are well crafted but the ultimate themes hardly worth six issues and four weeks. The NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN ends in a murky dawn of gray boredom and grimy, mundane drudgery. Welcome to another day of the neurotic bat. What a bummer.