Review – Batman Secret Files #1: Tales of Gotham

Comic Books DC This Week
Batman Secret Files #1 cover, via DC Comics.

Batman Secret Files #1 – Tom King, Ram V, Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Jordie Bellaire, Tom Taylor, Writers; Mikel Janin, Jorge Fornes, Elena Casagrande, Jill Thompson, Artists; Brad Walker, Penciller; Andrew Hennessy, Inker; Jordie Bellaire, Matt Wilson, Trish Mulvihill, Colorists


Ray – 8.5/10

Corrina: Allows the newer writers to take on Gotham

Ray: DC has had a lot of success with their recent anthologies, and they don’t have any bigger moneymakers than Batman, so a Batman anthology seems like a no-brainer.

Overall, Batman Secret Files comes out a winner, combining a new tale by regular writer Tom King with four stories by up-and-coming and new-to-DC writers. Tom King and Mikel Janin kick off the festivities with a story focusing on Batman and Superman. Superman – who King is currently writing in the DC Walmart specials – has been to a distant planet and come back with a rare ore of Platinum Kryptonite – a rock that will make him superpowered. He offers it to Batman so they can fight crime together as physical equals. It’s an intriguing story, and leads to Bruce examining the slow breakdown of his body and questioning if he’s still enough for Gotham.

Corrina: I wasn’t that huge a fan of the lead story because it goes down the road of breaking my suspension of disbelief. If Bruce could have a superpower, have it free and clear, wouldn’t he want to do that, in order to guard Gotham better? I can’t follow his logic in wanting to turn away a potentially benevolent weapon, given how desperate he is to save people. But, mostly, I think it’s a question that didn’t need to be asked.

Batman’s choice. Via DC Comics.

Ray: It’s a question that the rest of the stories try to answer, beginning with a creepy tale by Image writer Ram V. and artist Jorge Fornes. It focuses on a GCPD Detective who gets poisoned with fear gas and has to rely on a monstrous-looking Batman to guide him to safety. It has great visuals, but a dark twist ending that kind of ruins the story’s tone.

Corrina: This story had some of the most amazing visuals in the book. I love stories that center on a normal person’s view of the fights between Batman and his supervillains. The detective makes for a compelling lead character. Alas, the ending made me sad. Which does not diminish the quality of the work.

Ray: The best story of the issue comes in third, as Cheryl Lynn Eaton makes her DC debut with artist Elena Casagrande in a story dealing with everyday crime in Gotham and the way Wayne Enterprises’ tech division plays a role, as Bruce finds out that his drones have been used for evil and Batman has to protect a young witness who is key to solving a series of murders.

Corrina: This was also my favorite. First, there’s the terrific interaction at the crime scene between Gordon and Batman, and Batman’s later conversation with Lucius Fox, who clearly knows who Batman is and came prepared to help. Second, the witness develops a personality instantly, and I worried about her until the end. And, third, this art? It reminded me of Darwyn Cooke’s early DC work with Catwoman and also on his graphic crime story adaptations. I want to see this creative team on more DC comics, especially Batman.

Ray: Jordie Bellaire and Jill Thompson’s story is a sparse, winter-set tale of Batman heading to the mountains alone on a hunting mission – Man-Bat has been sighted and is a threat to everyone around him, and Bruce is tracking the beast. It looks great, but this psychologically-driven tale sort of lacks an ending and just sort of ends in a melancholy fashion.

Corrina: This story looks gorgeous, as one would expect from Thompson. Bruce looks especially good in his winter bat-suit and skies. But it seems less like a story and, as Ray said, it just ends. Sadly.

Ray: The final story, by Tom Taylor and Brad Walker, is an unlikely team-up between Batman and Detective Chimp. Picking up on Detective Chimp’s new origin from The Wild Hunt, Bobo is tracking down the son of the man who freed him and trying to save the boy from a life of crime. The story is a little basic, but the team-up and banter between the two detective heroes sells the story and makes it a highlight. A fun package of stories, but I did sort of have an issue that it didn’t resolve the question posed in the first story.

Corrina: This was just wonderful, a wry tale of two detectives wary of each other but also trusting the other’s competence. Between this and Tynion’s work on Detective Chimp, he’s fast becoming a favorite character.

Overall, this is a terrific collection. I’d recommend it to any Batman reader.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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