The Batman Secret Files is nothing like one would normally be expecting from a book with that title. There have been many Secret Files issues over the years. Usually they contain one or two stories, origin-related, and a number of text pages on the main character, their villains and/or supporting cast.
This volume contains five stories, none of which are origin tales, all of which feature Batman, usually with one of his allies.
Tom King opens the issue with a good little tale. Batman ponders a gift that Superman offers him. I was only surprised by the brevity of the piece. I half expected it to come back and finish off the issue.
The second story is a more tragic one, dealing with a police officer who has fallen victim to the Scarecrow’s fear gas. Ramy writes this story, which is brought to life with wonderful art by Jorge Pornes.
Commissioner Gordon and Lucius Fox get roles in the third story in the issue, by Cheryl Lynn Eaton and Elena Casagrande. This one is also a bit of a downer, dealing with weaponized drones that were created by Wayne Enterprises. I am not too keen on the conclusion of this tale. Although it deals with drones, the arguments that are being made could easily apply to guns, and relying on the “honour” of the person wielding it is almost insulting when there are mass shootings on a regular basis. I somehow doubt that was the intent of the author, but it still carries the same feeling.
The fourth story, by Jordie Bellaire and Jill Thompson, also leaves me a bit cold, and not just because it is set in a cabin during the winter. It does have some effective moments, and conveys the paranoia that Batman lives with, but it felt like it dragged a bit, and could have had more of an impact if it was shorter.
But the book ends on a high note, a team up with Batman and Detective Chimp facing the Riddler, thanks to Tom Taylor, Brad Walker and Andrew Hennessy. I admit I am a sucker for Detective Chimp, but this story is just outright fun, and the art is excellent.
It’s not like one is going to learn any new secrets about Batman from these files, but they do make for a decent read.