REVIEW: ‘Batman Secret Files: Huntress,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Batman Secret Files: Huntress

Batman Secret Files: Huntress #1 is published by DC Comics. Written by Mariko Tamaki with art by David Lapham. The colourist is Trish Mulvihill, and the letters are from Rob Leigh.

The story begins as Huntress makes her way home from a grueling adventure. She and Batman tracked down Hue Vile, a metahuman who infects victims with a parasite. Attaching itself to the brain, Vile can then control the person, turning them into zombies. . Huntress was possessed by Vile and forced to battle Batman. Bertinelli believes herself free of his influence, and the job is done. But she quickly finds herself in distress, connected to more of the hosts under Vile’s command. Helena heads back up, needing to save those still helpless to resist, as well as the people who need saving from them.

The story has an excellent concept, and the structure that Tamaki uses to tell is exceptional. The comic begins at the end of a previous adventure, which is a novel beginning. A reader may believe that a new story may follow, but it is, in fact, the ramifications of that event that provides the emotional crux for the unfolding tale. This gives the beginning of the comic a never-ending nightmare feel, disorienting the reader and character alike. From there, it unfolds into a more linear horror story as Huntress tracks down the rabid hosts of the parasite. The pace is great and moves at just the right speed to keep tensions high, but the comic may be slightly too long and begins to lose steam by the end. But the ending is a superb reveal and leads directly into the second part of the comic (within Detective Comics #1041.)

Batman Secret Files: Huntress #1 has a very small cast, primarily focused on the protagonist. This is a good choice as it keeps the suspense up where more characters may cause it to dissipate. Helena is an excellent lead for the comic and the genre of the story. This is a violent, scary, and gruesome comic. Bertinelli has seen and lived in that darkness, and the thought of someone controlling her mind is terrifying for her. But she is also capable of being scary. The opening to this issue is one of the best Huntress moments in comics. It shows her vulnerability, defiance, and soft side as she chats with her adorable cat.

As a villain, Vile is made even more creepy by how Tamaki utilizes him. He isn’t seen much in person, but his underlying presence in every mind makes his reach impossible to measure. His voice is there, over captions like a false narrator that interjects to unsettle the usually strong captions of Huntress.

The art is impeccable. Lapham’s art style works very well with horror comics, but the style can also work in scenes where the aim isn’t to scare. There are some stunning pages depicting Helena relaxing at home, the thick lines soothing to see. The car is incredibly detailed and expressive, bringing positivity to the book before it gets very dark. And when it does get dark, the art seems to shift with it. 

There are multiple artistic layers to the sinister elements of Batman Secret Files: Huntress #1. There are trippy, hallucinogenic patterns that have monstrous imagery. There fit with the nightmarish quality of the first part of the comic. Then there is the violence. There are nasty-looking wounds, some of which Huntress creates herself. But there is also the elements of body horror, where eyes and mouths are distorted and distended. The detail Lapham implements on all of these factors is phenomenal, especially on facial features.

The colours are terrific. For a melancholy book such as this, it is common for dark and gloomy colours to fill every panel. This is not the case, as Mulvihill uses numerous bright shades. The purple on Huntress’ costume is rich and vibrant. But there is often radioactive green seen on the victims’ eyes and mouths as the parasite takes control. The start of the comic is very bright with warm colours before the true horror of the comic takes hold.

The letters are large on the panel, deliberately overbearing. They are supposed to be loud and obtrusive, especially when a scream is rendered in bright red.

Batman Secret Files: Huntress #1 is a fantastic horror story featuring one of DC’s best characters. This is an intense book that doesn’t shy away from making the reader flinch or avert their gaze. But this is also a beautifully written investigation into the mind of Helena Bertinelli. Tamaki tells a wonderfully woven story that’s intimate, never leaving the main character for a second. And the magnificent art team creates insidious imagery that is glorious despite the revulsion it instills in the mind.

Batman Secret Files: Huntress #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.

Batman Secret Files: Huntress #1
4.5

TL;DR

Batman Secret Files: Huntress #1 is a fantastic horror story featuring one of DC’s best characters. This is an intense book that doesn’t shy away from making the reader flinch or avert their gaze. But this is also a beautifully written investigation into the mind of Helena Bertinelli. Tamaki tells a wonderfully woven story that’s intimate, never leaving the main character for a second. And the magnificent art team creates insidious imagery that is glorious despite the revulsion it instills in the mind.