Writer: Matt Wagner
Artist: Matt Wagner

In yet another flashback to Batman’s early days, Matt Wagner’s Batman and the Monster Men gives us a look at the Caped Crusader’s battle against Dr. Hugo Strange, his first supervillain. Wagner’s version of Bruce Wayne is much more idealistic in this book as he believes his work as Batman can live in perfect harmony with his new girlfriend, Julie Madison.

But his world is about to be shattered as he stumbles upon Hugo Strange’s bizarre experiments on the inmates at Arkham Asylum. Thanks to funding by Boss Maroni, Strange is able to create a small army of hulking “Monster Men” to terrorize Gotham and build a criminal empire. Batman got into the crime-fighting game to put an end to the mob, but now he is forced to face off against something else entirely.

Wagner’s story depicts a man who is just now discovering the evils lurking in Gotham City, and he puts doubt in our mind about whether or not Batman is even equipped to handle these freaks. It’s refreshing to see a version of Batman that might not be completely prepared for what’s ahead of him at all times.