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Book Review: BATMAN: SECRETS

Author: Bill Ramey
Sunday, February 4, 2007

SYNOPSIS FROM DC COMICS:
"Collecting Sam Kieth's acclaimed 5-issue miniseries! The Dark Knight faces off against his deadliest adversary, The Joker, after the Clown Price of Crime commits a heinous act that shows how heroes are treated by the media and viewed by the public."

BATMAN: SECRETS was a 5 part miniseries by writer/artist Sam Kieth of ZERO GIRL and THE MAXX fame.

Here’s the story in a nutshell: The Joker has been granted parole (WTF!) and has a new girlfriend who just so happens to be a former Gotham assistant district attorney. After the crazy bastard commits yet another murder, The Batman is caught on film apprehending the SOB. However, The Joker escapes and finds a way to use the pictures taken to alter the people of Gotham’s perception of The Dark Knight.

When “incriminating” photos are released by the media, The Joker becomes obsessed with further damaging The Batman’s reputation. As a result, The Joker is somewhat successful -- mostly due to the media’s obsession to convict a person before all of the facts are revealed.

Ratings and selling papers are the name of the game!

The Batman is determined to prove his innocence in the eyes of the citizens of Gotham. To do that, he must prove that The Joker is the guilty party.

So what about the “Secrets” the title alludes to? Well, that’s the underlying them of Mr. Kieth’s story: Everyone has secrets and they hold us hostage. And all the players of BATMAN: SECRETS -- including The Dark Knight himself -- have secrets that play an important role in this tale.

As I read BATMAN: SECRETS, I went from not particularly liking the story to quite digging it in the end. At first, I thought it was retread of Frank Miller’s stuff -- mainly the cynical view of the media. However, it quickly moved away from that theme, becoming something quite original. Lot’s of deep, psychological stuff here which should please those who like that sort of thing.

I thought Kieth’s writing was well above average as was the dialogue -- in particular that of The Joker’s. The storyline kind of jumps back in forth in time and includes several flashbacks which are confusing at first. While the story is not linear, everything comes together in the story’s climax.

As far as the artwork is, well, crazily spectacular. I particularly loved his work with The Joker, as Kieth uses these exaggerated, spastic swooshes when focusing on the character. Clearly, this was used to represent The Joker’s madness. Kieth’s Batman was OK, not particularly my cup of tea to be honest.

All in all, I enjoyed BATMAN: SECRETS -- it didn‘t blow me away, but I liked it. I don’t know if I would tell you all to run down to your comic book shop and buy it NOW -- in fact, I’m won’t do that. But hey, if you’ve got a few extra bucks, it may be worth picking up at some point down the line.

Bill Ramey, AKA "Jett," is the founder and editor in chief of
BATMAN ON FILM, BATMAN IN COMICS, and ON-FILM.NET.

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