Review: BATMAN: SECRET FILES #1 Offers a Unique Look at the Character

FIRST IMPRESSION

BATMAN: SECRET FILES #1 is a great collection of shorts for longtime Bat-fans, or anyone looking for a more deconstructive take on the character and superhero tropes. I recommend it.
Writing
Pencils/Inks
Coloring
Lettering
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Batman: Secret Files #1 reintroduces DC’s Secret Files and Origins line, a series of one-shots that’s been dormant since 2010. The new entry offers up five tales by different creative teams, each exploring different aspects of Bruce Wayne’s character.

Vulnerability. Compassion. Fear. Cynicism. Self-loathing. Each of these and more are touched on in this short volume, giving us some unique perspectives on the Caped Crusader.

The Writing

These creative teams do a great job across the board of weaving brief, yet engrossing narratives. The stories throughout Batman: Secret Files allow us to explore sides of the character we rarely see. Each one is very different, yet compelling in its own way.

The first story for example, Tom King’s True Strength, effectively conveys Batman’s own insecurity and awareness of the limits of his power, despite being just three pages long. It’s concise, yet hard-hitting storytelling at its finest. Other stories like One by Cheryl Lynn Eaton force Bruce Wayne to confront what happens when Wayne Enterprises tech falls into the wrong hands. Batman also comes face-to-face with people who fall outside his usual protection, and how that impacts an entire community.

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Those who favor stories that are more consciously-deconstructive of superhero tropes should find plenty to enjoy. However, more general fans of the character should be happy with Batman: Secret Files as well.

The Artwork

As with the writing, different teams of artists tackle the ink and color responsibilities in each of the five stories.

True Strength, with inks by Mikel Janin, is most reminiscent of contemporary Batman tales. The second story, The Nature of Fear, features a more psychedelic look to reflect the mood of the story. The inks by Jorge Fornes work together with Matt Wilson’s colors to lend the images an almost cel-shaded aesthetic.

It’s hard to say which artistic team behind Batman: Secret Files offers up the best work. Each is unique, and offers strengths that lend the individual story a special charm all its own.

Final Thoughts

Batman: Secret Files is a great collection of standalone Batman stories. I recommend it for both regular readers, as well as casual fans who are looking for something a bit outside the usual Batman body of work.

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David DeCorte
David DeCorte covers comic book, entertainment, pop culture, and business news for multiple outlets. He is also a sci-fi writer, and is currently working on his first full-length book. Originally from San Diego, he now lives in Tampa.