Batman Secret Files #1 Review

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Once again we delve into the case files of Gotham’s gallant dark knight as Tom King and a host of other creators fling open the Batman Secret Files #1 from DC Comics. What secrets will be uncovered?

Batman Secret Files Review #1BATMAN SECRET FILES #1 REVIEW

Writer: Tom King, Jodie Bellaire, Ram V., Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Tom Taylor
Art: Jorges Fornes, Elena Casagrande, Brad Walker, Mikel Janin
Cover: Mikel Janin
Publisher:  DC Comics
Release Date: October 31st, 2018
Cover Price:  $4.99

Previously in BATMAN SECRET FILES: Although it is listed as issue number one, technically, this is the second title from DC Comics to have the name Batman Secret Files. The first was released in 1997 was part of a push with every title having a Secret Files and Origins issue. Although this issue dropped the “and Origins” part of the title, it is still structured along the same vein. It essentially is an anthology of stories involving aspects of the Batman.

THE WORTH OF A MAN…

“True Strength” has Batman asking himself a question, he is able to be enough? With all of his training, is he fulfilling his mission to the best his abilities, his potential? You see, Superman mad approached him and offered him a way to gain the same powers he has, permanently. Batman has had a rough night, and the pain he feels has led him to ask, is he enough? Written by Tom King (Batman, Grayson) with art by Mikel Janin (Justice League Dark, Batman) this short story serves not as the framing story, but as the instigating question which inspired all of the other stories in the volume. Is Batman good enough and can he control the consequences of all his actions? It is a tight, well-written piece, and I hesitate to state it is a framing sequence only because it does not return at the end of the issue to wrap it all up. It does, however, serve as a nice launch pad.

In “The Nature of Fear”, Officer Fielding of the Gotham City Police Department was present during an encounter with the Scarecrow, and encounter which went south for him. He finds himself in therapy, talking out the events leading up to and after his exposure to fear gas. He wonders if he will ever not be afraid again? Writer Ram V. (Paradiso, Brigands) and artists Jorge Fornes (Amazing X-Men, Magnus) and Matt Wilson (The Wicked + The Divine, Wonder Woman) tell this tale of the consequences Batman and his enemies force on those that fall within the circle of their conflicts. A very psychological tale, it begins with a structured nine-panel layout, and gets a more chaotic feel to the panels as the story goes, only to return to the structure. It is well planned and works very subtly to achieve its purpose.

With “One”, Cheryle Lynn Eaton (Bitch Planet: Triple Feature, Luna Station Quarterly 001) writes a story of Batman investigating a multiple homicides with little clues, except for one witness who she needs to protect herself. But when the name Wayne is connected to the crimes, Batman is determined to find out how, and why. Artist Elena Casagrande (Suicide Risk, Angel) provides a clean style of art that conveys the motion on the page dynamically, while colorist Jordie Bellaire (The Manhattan Projects, Batman) provides the mood through the use of the right color schemes to convey the direction. Well done and enjoyable.

We get a different tale of the Batman and his abilities and what that level of preparation means in “Enough” from Jordie Bellaire, this time as writer, and artist Jill Thompson (Wonder Woman, The Sandman). In the snow-capped peaks around Gotham City, there have been reports of a large monster loose. Batman thinks it may be one of his old enemies, and sets out to find it. He is prepared for almost anything, expect the feeling of loneliness. What happens when that loneliness may lead him to something he was not prepared for? It’s a haunting tale that features Batman in a different environment than you are used to, and leaves him asking questions about himself. Bellaire writes this wonderfully, and it leaves an impact when the climax hits. Jill Thompson is wonderful, as always. The design for the cold weather, bow-wielding Batman could quickly become a fan favorite.

Finally, we have “The World’s Greatest Detective and Batman” as Batman and Detective Chimp team up to stop the Riddler before he commits his latest string of crimes, or have they? Bobo has a personal reason to find the Riddler, and that reason may not be understood by Batman. Tom Taylor (Injustice 2, All-New Wolverine) writes a moving tale of to what means some will go to pay a debt, and how we make assumptions about the way people perceive us. Brad Walker (Aquaman, Green Lantern: New Guardians) and Andrew Hennessy (Sigil, Aquaman) are a wonderful art duo, giving the whole tale a gravitas that you don’t expect.

FROM THE SECRET FIES TO THE PRINTED PAGE

Let me get this out of the way first, is this a good book?

Maybe.

If you are coming to it looking for stories that give a new depth to Batman, or that tell some real secrets, this is not the one for you. However, all of the stories in the book do well with one thing, illustrating that the Batman is a man, a man trying to do the best he can with what he has.

The quality level varies, but none of the stories here should be considered bad, they simply range from good to great. Ones such as “The Nature of Fear” are simply good, while “Enough” teeters right on the edge of great. My favorite for this issue was “The World’s Greatest Detective and Batman”, which slips a serious story in on you. Also, it has Detective Chimp, which instantly will add to any well-conceived story.

BOTTOM LINE: A FEW GOOD SHORT STORIES OF THE BATMAN AND A FEW EXCELLENT SHORT STORIES OF THE BATMAN

While all of the stories presented in this issue are good, my biggest complaint comes from the so-called framing story, “True Strength”. As presented, it is good, but missed the purpose of a framing story. Too truly qualify as a framing story, in my opinion, you need to introduce the stories in the volume, which it did, and then come back after the stories have been told and give a closing to the idea, which it did not. One page, showing Bruce Wayne making a decision and putting away the temptation would have sufficed and equally elevated the concept of the whole issue. As it is, this is a nice collection with a few real gems.

BATMAN SECRET FILES #1 may not give away any real secrets, but it provides a series of solid stories and introduces readers to creators they will not have normally had a chance to experience.

Batman Secret Files #1

73%
73%
Good stories

BATMAN SECRET FILES #1 may not give away any real secrets, but it provides a series of solid stories and introduces readers to creators they will not have normally had a chance to experience.

  • Writing
    7
  • Art
    8
  • Coloring
    7
  • User Ratings (1 Votes)
    2
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About Author

Back in February of 2008, Stacy Baugher wrote his first article for Major Spoilers and started a solid run of work that would last for over two years. He wrote the first series of Comic Casting Couch articles as well as multiple Golden Age Hero Histories, reviews and commentaries. After taking a hiatus from all things fandom he has returned to the Major Spoilers fold. He can currently be found on his blog, www.stacybaugher.com , were he post progress on his fiction work as well as his photography and life in general, and on Twitter under the handle @stacybaugher . If you're of a mind, he also takes on all comers with the under the Xbox Live Gamertag, Lost Hours. He currently lives in Clinton, Mississippi with his understanding wife, and two kids.

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