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

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Batman Secret Files Clownhunter #1 - But Why Tho

Batman Secret Files: Clownhunter #1 is published by DC Comics. Written by Ed Brisson with art by Rosi Kämpe. The colourist is Andrew Dalhouse and the letters are by Simon Bowland.

Clownhunter is a young teenager called Bao Pham. His parents were murdered by the Joker, sending him on a mission of vengeance. Armed with a baseball bat and wearing a homemade costume, Clownhunter hunts down anybody that will lead him to the killer clown. When he finds one of Joker’s henchmen. He attacks what he views as easy prey. But the new vigilante may soon find that he is in more danger than he knows.

The plot of this issue is fantastic. A self-contained story, nothing needs to be known about this character going into the one-shot. The history of the character is mentioned in the first page, and after that, the readers are straight into the action. There are two different stories that take place in this comic. One is Pham at his private school, in the middle of a brutal fight. The second is another violent battle, but with much higher stakes. What is brilliant about Brisson’s writing is that both of these plotlines inform and enhance each other. The pacing is great as the situation in both timeframes gets worse. The level in how extreme the violence and danger get is surprising, and the guest star may have been unexpected.

This story is brilliant in regards to getting new readers interested in Clownhunter. He’s a fascinating character that has a really powerful personality when written well. He is driven towards revenge but is very inexperienced. This character is very reminiscent of Hit-Girl, taking her shining attributes within a universe with much bigger threats. Even within a tale where Phao doesn’t battle the Joker himself, there is this fear of what may happen to him if he does. There is a reality check inside this issue for him. He is one of the liveliest new characters within DC’s roster, so it will be fascinating to see how he is used going forward.

The art inside Batman Secret Files: Clownhunter #1 is awesome. Part of what may transfix fans to this young character is his design. Kämpe embraces this and includes the wonderful details that are all over Phao’s costume. There is a broom handle on his head that seems inspired by Roman helmets. And on closer inspection, you realise that the blade in his baseball bat is actually a Batarang. There is so much life to him even at a visual level. The feeling of personality comes across at every level of the art. The presentation of motion is immaculate, filling the comic with energy. The violence in this issue, quick and bloody, is another aspect that reminds this reviewer of Kick-Ass. It may be more understated than the other series but is enough to make people wince.

The colours are stunning. The way the palette changes depending on the setting is a nice touch. In the private school, though the actual fight doesn’t relent in its brutality, is brighter. The grass is green and the students are wearing blue polo shirts. This is not the case in Gotham. There is a near-constant backdrop of orange as buildings burn around Clownhunter and the clown he is hunting. The textures are rougher and the shadows are larger. 

The lettering is fascinating as Clownhunter has a unique font and style. The text is smaller in his caption boxes and word balloons than it is for others, and there is no capitalisation. This is very noticeable in a medium that uses capitals for 95% of its text. 

Batman Secret Files: Clownhunter #1 is an excellent character focus. Something that these Secret Files comics have excelled at is using a very limited cast. Everything centres around the primary characters and it does not leave them for a second. This means that everything is about the protagonist. Brisson and Kämpe bring so much character development to this book, which an in-depth and powerful story allows the chance to do so. It also gives Phao the opportunity to go down several different pathways, all of which will provide some glorious stories.

Batman Secret Files: Clownhunter #1 is available where comics are sold.


Batman Secret Files: Clownhunter #1
5

TL;DR

Batman Secret Files: Clownhunter #1 is an excellent character focus. Something that these Secret Files comics have excelled at is using a very limited cast. Everything centres around the primary characters and it does not leave them for a second. This means that everything is about the protagonist. Brisson and Kämpe bring so much character development to this book, which an in-depth and powerful story allows the chance to do so. It also gives Phao the opportunity to go down several different pathways, all of which will provide some glorious stories.