It seems every new month in 2020 changes what I look for in a comic story. Batman Secret Files #3 is an incredibly well-timed release by DC Comics thanks to the meaningful messages and stories with its pages. It’s an anthology series featuring five stories about assassins, but if you look deeper there’s much more meaning in each of the tales. With a creator list that’s deep with talent, this is a can’t miss issue of the week.
The first story is by Vita Ayala and Andie Tong and deals with Batman villain Cheshire. The center of the story revolves around a good rich dude who did the right thing, but other rich dudes want to kill him for it. Cheshire has been hired, but Batman wants to stop her while also maybe saving her from the bad-guy life. The story takes an unexpected turn and reminds us Batman is human — a good reminder to have. The art is detailed and has some good fight choreography to follow.
Following this is a tale by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Victor Ibanez featuring a Green Arrow and Batman team-up. Johnson taps into the silly nature of the cape Batman wears, which ties in nicely into the ending, and features a hunter assassin who lures the two in. The message is clear: some villains see themselves as something they really are not, and a lesson is learned. The use of lighting when a fire is set is well done with colors by Jordie Bellaire. There’s a grounded and realistic look the characters that suit the high stakes moments well.
Next up is a story by Mariko Tamaki and Riley Rossmo that’s inventive and fun in its layout design while delivering a scary assassin tale. It’s a horror tale for sure — especially if you hate teeth — and it looks great doing it.
The next story is maybe the most important comic story you’ll read all week. It’s about guns and how despicable they are at their core, as Batman faces off against the Gunsmith. It’s also about how guns are used to interrupt things and more specifically, as writer Dan Watters puts it, “the curve of bone…blood vessels…” and the damage they deal. Drawn by the master John Paul Leon the story ends on an incredibly strong visual as we see the military-grade armor and weaponry the Gotham police are wielding.
The art by Leon is impeccable as always, with highly detailed environments lending to the realism with splashes of solid backgrounds where needed to focus our attention in the most emotional way. The letters by Deron Bennet are also exceptional, hammering home key elements in the dialogue that will resonate with you. I don’t say this often, but this story may win an Eisner in 2020.
Wrapping up the collection is James Tynion IV and Sumit Kumar’s Deathstroke story. This ties directly into Tynion’s Batman run and it sheds some light on Deathstroke’s role in the latest story arc. This story is a good one, reminding us how a no-nonsense guy like Deathstroke could work with a maniac like Joker. It’s also a story that adds purpose to the book if you’re tapped into the current continuity.
This is an exceptional issue. Do not miss this for the message behind the stories, the fun dialogue, and overall excellent art. It’s also an easy book for anyone to pick up since most of these stories stand alone. This is a reminder of how impactful comics can be and how important they are to our culture.