Batman Secret Files #1
Written by Tom King, Ram V, Cheryl LynnEaton, Jordie Bellaire and Tom Taylor
Art by Clay Mann, Jorge Fornes, Elena Casagrande, Jill Thompson and Brad Walker
Inks by Andrew Hennessy
Colors by Jordie Bellaire, Matt Wilson and Trish Mulvihill
Letters by Clayton Cowles, Steve Wands, Deron Bennett and Tom Napolitano
In the first story from this issue “True Strength”, Batman and Superman complete a fight and a hurt and battered dark knight retires to the cave to recover. Superman decides to give Batman a gift of a new strain of Kryptonite that will give Batman all of the powers of the man of steel for the rest of his life. As Batman contemplates the offer, he thinks about his own injuries, his mission and how he can potentially end threats and save lives. All of his thoughts lead him to a serious question for Alfred.
King knows how to write Batman. He knows how to create a human, emotional story for the character that brings a level of reality to Bruce’s personal and psychological existence. This story opens many doors of possibility while affirming what is engaging about Bruce’s essential humanity. The art does a great job of relaying the somber and contemplative tone of the story.
The second story is titled “The Nature of Fear” and this one tells the events of a Scarecrow attack from the point of view of a Gotham City police officer caught in the battle. After being doused with fear toxin, the officer finds himself being rescued by Batman, but the vision of Batman in his mind is one of a demon dragging him through a hellscape in his own mind. As the officer tries to explain what happened to his therapist, he continues to feel the effects of the fear gas as his mind tries to heal itself through the speech about fear that Batman gives him.
This compelling short story shows one of the problems with being Batman. How do you help someone in the throes of a fear-induced psychosis when the very costume you wear is designed to inspire fear?
In “One”, Batman heads to the Hill to help investigate the murder of a group of low-level gang members. When Gordon can’t find any answers, Batman assures him that he will. He finds a witness to the killing and talking to her leads him to a problem too close to home. I like this story and the button at the end of it by Lucius Fox says everything it needs to.
“Enough” pits Batman against the elements as he travels to the mountains to track and capture Man-Bat. After settling into a cabin and preparing himself, Bruce goes out into the snow to track his prey and hone his skills. When he consistently finds nothing, his doubt almost drives him to leave until sounds from outside the cabin force him into action with unexpected consequences.
A well-written morality tale that gives a different side to Bruce when dealing with isolation.
In “The World’s Greatest Detective, and Batman”, Detective Chimp tracks Batman to his favorite perch over the city because he needs the dark knight’s help to track down the son of the man who set Bobo free. When Bobo tells Batman that the kid has fallen in with Riddler’s gang, Detective Chimp and Batman team up to track down the gang and find a way to help the kid before he makes a decision that will ruin his life. Unfortunately, Bobo might have to make a huge sacrifice to do it.
An interesting look at the dynamic between these two detectives and how they work together. It also gives Detective Chimp some fun, character building moments.