Cover of Cat-Tales: SecretsSecrets

Secrets might be the most surprising of the Cat-Tales in that it was a fine story when released in 2003, which took on an entirely new dimension after Brad Meltzer's Identity Crisis more than a year later.

The core story first: A fabulous Houdini artifact called the Tome of Secrets is being auctioned at a Wayne Foundation fundraiser. Zatanna comes to town to buy it, and Riddler wants it too. Because the item is said to be cursed: if it's touched by anyone but the rightful owner, that person's secrets will be revealed.

Significant points:

When we actually see into the Tome, the parallels Bruce finds between Houdini's crusade against false mystics and his own war on crime is quite satisfying.

Bruce and Selina have a nice scene when Selina presents him with the tome: "I don't think 'rightful owner' has anything to do with who paid for the thing." But the real Batman/Catwoman development is at the very end, when he's sent her away to Paris. The call is one of their best moments of Book Two.

Then came Identity Crisis, where it's revealed that Zatanna was part of a clique of rogue Justice League members who lobotomized Dr. Light and used magic against Batman when he tried to stop them, then erased his memory of the incident. Black Canary was part of the cabal. That is one hell of a secret to be carrying around in Gotham. What's more, Secrets contains a Bruce/Selina conversation about superpowers and the way the empowered like Zatanna and Wonder Woman use them as a crutch. It doesn't touch directly on his distrust of superpowers that will be justified by the events of Identity Crisis, but it does introduce his critical attitude towards them.

Like all Cat-Tales, Secrets can be read online on the Cat-Tales website or mobile mirror, and can be downloaded as an ebook or pdf, which is sized for printing at Cafe Press.It is also one of the few tales available as an audio book, and is collected in Cat-Tales Book 2.