Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Batman and the Mad Monk – review

Story and Art: Matt Wagner

First published: 2006-2007

Contains spoilers

This was the second reimaging of Batman’s encounter with the Mad Monk – we looked at the original story here. Between this version and the original there was a storyline in 1982 establishing the Monk character within the DC Multiverse.

This was the second of a two-part series called Dark Moon Rising, the first trade paper back (tpb) being Batman and the Monster Men, a Hugo Strange story. Batman is at the start of his career and the relationship between him and Jim Gordon is just beginning. As in the original version Bruce Wayne is in a relationship with Julie Madison, but she is a law student and her father, Norman, is a psychological wreck terrified of Batman.

The Mad Monk goes by the name of Niccolai Ţepeş, though Batman comes to believe he is Richard Rallstone, a bad-boy heir to the Rallstone Castle (a blooming great castle in Gotham). A pictogram at the end suggests that Ţepeş possessed the body of Rallstone. Whilst Ţepeş clearly believes he is a vampire (drinking blood, having hypnotic powers and sleeping days in a coffin) the storyline keeps the actuality of this fluid and it may have been delusion rather than him actually being a vampire.

Of course the hypnotic powers are real enough and he uses them on Julie to get at her father’s fortune whilst he poses as a self-help guru. We also see that she has been bitten and the bite marks are of the two puncture variety. Batman may not believe that he really is facing a vampire but errs on the side of caution and creates some silver batarangs. The monk’s end (oh that wasn’t really a spoiler) comes about in a Hammer way.

Ţepeş is creating a vampire cult called the Brotherhood, though none of the members are actually vampires. He has wolves guarding the castle, but they are natural wolves and werewolves are not mentioned within the story. In the original story Dala was a vampire, in this she is a servant who has been recruited with the promise of being turned and ruling at his side. Dala actually will appear again as a vampire in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode Shadow of the Bat.

The tpb is rather good, not too stretching in concept, rather it has solid storytelling and the art is rather fine too. 7 out of 10. Thanks to Dave for the loan of the tpb.

No comments: