“Batman: Secret Files” was one of my favorite issues of last year, so I was pretty excited to see that DC was publishing another issue to tie in with their “Year of the Villain” story. Batman is possibly the character with the best rogues gallery of all time, so this is a pretty wonderful way to showcase his villains and what his interactions with them are like. For anyone that didn’t read “Secret Files” Issue 1, it’s essentially a bunch of short stories featuring Batman and the various issues he has to deal with in a night. It’s a cool concept that can let writers play with the character and not have to worry too much about a long, intense story, or any story with canon bending consequences. Writers can test the waters with Batman and give their own spin on the character. I’d love to see other characters like The Flash or Green Lantern get this treatment, so hopefully this is something DC continues with. Since the issue is made up of short stories, I’ll run through each one with my thoughts on them and give them their own individual star ratings. Let’s start with the first story in the book. 

THE JOKER in… IF THE SUIT FITS

Written by: Andy Kubert

Art by: Amancay Nahuelpan

Colors by: Trish Mulvihill

Letters by: Steve Wands

This story is about an average night’s interaction between the world’s most iconic superhero and the world’s most iconic super villain, Batman and the Joker. The Joker’s plan has worked and he finally has Batman where he wants him, tied up and hanging upside down in a warehouse somewhere. Joker wants to kill Batman, which is no surprise, but he wants to do it while wearing the bat suit. Obviously, that does not work out in his favor. For a pretty common story of Joker trying to kill Batman, the plot of Joker trying to wear the bat suit is a pretty unique spin on it. It’s cool that we get to see some of the specific gadgets that make up Batman’s suit and we get to see some specific skills that we don’t usually see. The art is pretty great and the colors really make the art pop, and I would definitely say the art is the highlight of this story. Overall this story is an okay one, the dialogue coming from the Joker isn’t great but it’s a fun, basic story about the chemistry between the two characters, and it doesn’t need to be anything more. 2.5/5 Stars 

PSYCHO PIRATE in… HE HELPS US

Written by: Collin Kelly & Jackson Lanzing

Art by: Carlos D’anda

Colors by: Luis Guerrero

Letters by: Andworld Design 

We start this story with an old man being initiated into some type of cult. Different members are telling their stories of their troubled pasts, and they all end with “he helps me.” This feels very reminiscent of Director Ari Aster’s recent film, Midsommar, both in style of character design and setting. Eventually we realize that the leader of this cult is none other than the villain, Psycho Pirate, and he is using the Medusa Mask to lead these unknowing people into a dark fate. Of course this wouldn’t a Batman story if our caped crusader didn’t show up and kick some ass, but we also get a really deep look into Batman’s motivations and how he remains so strong mentally after everything that’s happened to him. Yes, this is a take on the character that we’ve seen before, but I always enjoy the chance to see Batman in a battle of minds rather than physical ones, just because there are so few that can match him mentally. This story touches on how scary things can get when people are manipulated and are in large groups, and it’s also a Batman story that takes place in the sunlight which is something that isn’t very common. This segment is a good introduction to the character of Psycho Pirate and a neat look inside the psyche of Batman. 3.5/5 Stars 

THE RIDDLER in… ALONE 

Written by: Mairghread Scott

Pencils by: Giuseppe Camuncoli

Inks by: Cam Smith

Colors by: Tomeu Morey

Letters by: Clayton Cowles 

The Riddler is my favorite Batman villain so I was pretty excited when I read the first page of this story. Edward Nygma is being analyzed by Arkham Asylum’s newest doctor, Dr. Watham, who is trying to understand why The Riddler torments Batman. The story is told by the Riddler and he details his most recent encounter with Batman where he uses past events from his own life to get revenge for himself while also wreaking chaos on Gotham. What’s pretty cool about this story is that Mairghread Scott wrote it in a way that the reader can try to figure out the riddle, and that brings a whole new level of interaction that this issue hasn’t seen yet. This story isn’t as much about Batman as much as it is about The Riddler, and as a fan of that character, I’m glad that there was such an emphasis on his ideology and his motivations. I really enjoyed this story because I felt like I got to be a part of it and because I feel like Scott really understands The Riddler. 4/5 Stars 

HUGO STRANGE in… DOCTOR OF PSYCHIATRIC MEDICINE

Written by: Steve Orlando

Art by: Eduardo Risso

Colors by: Dave Stewart

Letters by: John Workman 

This story is by and far my favorite in the entire issue, and is potentially one of my favorites that I’ve read in comics in a long time. Steve Orlando has an amazing Martian Manhunter maxiseries right now that I highly encourage everyone to read, whether you are a fan of that character or not. I was happy to see his name on this book, but I was even more happy to see that he was the author of this story after I had finished it. Hugo Strange believes that in order for him to defeat Batman, he has to truly understand what it is to be Batman. In a very Saw- Esque story, Strange kidnaps 5 specimens and puts them in elaborate traps dressed as Batman to see which one of them operates closest to Batman. This story is a fascinating look into Hugo Strange as a character, one of the best to ever do it with Strange in my opinion, and this story feels wildly different from the others in this issue. I would absolutely love for Steve Orlando to be given a Batman title, especially if Hugo Strange was his villain. This story is incredibly gruesome, cleverly written, has my favorite artwork in the entire issue, and could potentially be the start to a character defining storyline for Hugo Strange. 5/5 Stars. 

BANE in… ALETHEPHOBIA

Written by: Tim Seeley

Art by: Patrick Gleason

Colors by: John Kalisz

Letters by: Tom Napolitano 

Tom King’s polarizing Batman run is building to its ultimate end and the villain of the series, Bane, and Batman will do battle in Batman #75. Because of that, our main event is a heartbreaking story about Bane’s earlier years as a villain, and it’s a side of him that we don’t get to see often. Bane’s relationship with his psychiatrist is detailed and we learn a bit about why Bane is the way that he is. This story really gave me a different look at him as a character, and it really humanizes him in a lot of ways. I’ve always preferred Bane as the giant luchador, but stories like this make me really interested in him as the hyper-intelligent character that he is. I love the way that Tim Seeley wrote the character and I’m excited to see what Tom King has in store for the end of his run. 4/5 Stars. 

In Summary: “Batman: Secret Files” issue 2 is one that every Batman fan should pick up. It’s light on insight into Batman as a character, but as a tie in to “City of Bane,” it’s a great analysis of some of Batman’s best villains. 


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