Author: Sam Keith
Artist: Sam Keith
Titan Books
RRP: 7.99, US $12.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 8457 6425 8
ISBN-10: 1 84576 425 0
Available 27 April 2007

The Joker, the world's most psychotic killer has been granted parole. But after he commits a heinous crime, the madman cleverly frames Batman in the court of public opinion. While the media hover like vultures, ready to convict before all the facts are in, the world's greatest detective is determined to clear his name by proving the Joker's guilt. But his quest is made even more difficult when the clown prince of crime threatens someone from Bruce Wayne's past - bringing back tormented memories that Batman has kept hidden for years. Will Batman be able to discover the Joker's secret plans, or will he be destroyed by his own demons?...

Secrets sees the Joker yet again released into an unsuspecting world. This time he hatches perhaps his most damaged plan yet - to frame Batman for murder and for 'victimising' him, with the help of a blackmailed journalist and DA-turned-bad Terry Ammons. But what secrets are they hiding? And what darkest of secrets still haunts Batman?

This collection pits the Dark Knight against the Joker - all under the unforgiving eye of the media. Their confrontation is caught on film, and Gotham City's protector appears to pummel his archenemy without mercy. The Joker uses this to frame Batman in the court of public opinion while the media hover like vultures, ready to convict before all the facts are in.

When you break it down, Secrets is a pretty shallow offering. There's nothing here that hasn't been done before, and much better. It's another "Batman goes head to head with the Joker" affair. The execution is pretty simplistic and the conclusion is predictable. The fact that Sam Keith mucks about with the narrative (possibly in a vain attempt to hide the fact that there's not much story) ends up feeling a little sloppy and Bruce Wayne's ghastly secret is a little laughable. Was Keith attempting to give us a Citizen Kane moment, I wonder?

There are a few too many references to Alan Moore's The Killing Joke - almost as if Keith's not really a Batman fan at all and has only read the one book. Keith's art is pretty impressive though (just ignore the fact that he's nicked one image of the Joker from Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum).

At the end of the day this is a collection that will have fans divided. While I didn't much care for it, I'm sure that to some this will be the collection they cherish. For me, though, it was decidedly average.

Nick Smithson

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