The last two issues of Batman tied into the Night of the Monster Men crossover. I’d say as a whole the crossover is ok, but unless you’re really interested in Batman and his allies fighting a bunch of giant monsters created by Hugo Strange, I wouldn’t really recommend it. This issue could easily be read without touching the crossover and you won’t feel the least bit lost.
Batman 9, written by Tom King, is mostly a setup issue for the I Am Suicide story arc. The opening is a vaguely written scene between Bane and an unknown ally of his, preparing for something that’s probably sinister. The rest of this issue shows Batman in Arkham Asylum, recruiting a small team of criminals to take on Bane. Besides the last one who I won’t spoil, they’re all characters I’ve never heard of before, but they seem interesting enough. Most of these criminals are clearly disturbed, and it’ll be interesting to see how everything fits together later in this story arc. The narration boxes telling us what they did and what their punishment is helps set the mood. Whatever Batman’s planning, it’s big.
The art by Mikel Janin is good. The opening pages with Bane are very creepy looking with the dark backgrounds, and Bane in the shadows while sitting on or standing by a large pile of skulls. The large spread where Batman approaches the asylum is very well detailed, with rain in the foreground, Batman standing in front of the large gate, all the barred windows on the asylum building and well-lit buildings in the background. Facial expressions do a great job at conveying the inmates’ confusion, anger, excitement or the completely catatonic look of one particular inmate. The colouring by June Chung is also great. Despite the often dark overall look, there’s a lot of colour and there’s great use of both shading and reflections.
Although this comic is purely build-up, it’s kind of exciting. It’s hard to gage how good this story arc will be, but that’s part of what makes this worth checking out. Honestly I’m not sure what else to say about this. I don’t think I could give this a score without seeing how good the next issue is though, so I won’t give one.