Review – Batman the Long Halloween

Written by – Jeph Loeb

Art by – Tim Sale

Published by – Titan Books

 A costumed hero learning he can trust no one.

A serial killer using the holidays to mark his handiwork.

A crime lord trying to hold onto a crumbling empire.

An honest district attorney hiding a dark secret.

A dark woman tempting the dark knight detective.

And a friendship that would be shattered forever.

There are the pieces of the murder mystery: The Long Halloween

The Long Halloween is a limited 13 run comic series originally published between 1996 and 1997, written by Jeph Loeb with art by Time Sale. In terms of Batman continuity it supposedly follows on from Miller’s Year One which ends in December with the Long Halloween starting in the following June.

The story charts the decline of organised Mob crime in Gotham City and the rise of the freaks or supervillains. The story also ties onto events that lead to the downfall of Gotham’s District Attorney Harvey Dent and his rebirth as the villainous Two Face.

Somebody is killing members and associates of Gotham’s premier crime family the Falcones. The mysterious serial killer known as Holiday strikes on holidays (excuse the Americanism) leaving only a .22 calibre pistol, a baby bottle teat (used as a silencer) and a trinket/toy relating to the Holiday in question.

After initially combining their efforts to bring down the Falcone crime family Batman, Captain Jim Gordon and crusading DA Harvey Dent are drawn into a battle on another front, fighting the calendar and time itself in an effort to try and thwart the Holiday killer and deduct his true identity. Just who will be Holliday’s next victim?

A dark secret from the Wayne family past will be dragged into the light and will cast a dark shadow over Bruce Wayne and Batman himself also the birth of a new supervillain that will forever change the face of Gotham’s criminal elite, this is the Long Halloween.

The Long Halloween is an absolutely brilliant book and is without a doubt the best Batman book I have read so far. Like the bastard love child of the Godfather and The Dark Knight, The Long Halloween grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go for 370 pages. I was really surprised at just how good the story was, I have heard a lot of criticism of Jeph Loeb but I bought this book based on a strong recommendation from a trusted source, and I wasn’t disappointed. Loeb throws everything into the story and there are appearances by no less than 10 of Batman enemies, including Catwoman, the Joker, the Riddler, Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy and of course Two Face.

But to Loeb’s credit the story never gets out of hand or flabby the writing is tight and controlled, answers to questions are given when they are needed but the story also leaves you wanting more and crucially by the end of the book there are a number of questions left unanswered for you to take away and ponder.

Harvey Dents transformation into Two Face is both shocking and brutal. At the beginning Dent is willing to bend the law in order to bring Falcone down but as the book progresses you get the impression that Dent would do anything to achieve his goal. His ultimate revenge on Falcone sings of poetic justice and Loeb’s Two Face is far more of a tragic figure than Nolan’s interpretation in the recent film, but you can definitely pick up on the influences Nolan took from this book – I believe in Harvey Dent.

Also worthy of a mention is Tim Sales art work which is darkly brooding, noirish (sic) and excellent throughout.  I particularly enjoyed some of the panel layouts where Sales establishes a long shot in one panel only to pull a close up in the following panel. And Sales Catwoman is sexy as hell.

Another light touch that Loeb brings to the book are the homage’s to the Godfather that appear through out, here are just a few of the ones I picked up on

“I believe in Gotham City”

The Wedding at the beginning of the story

Harvey Dent taking Licence plates of the mob cars at the wedding

“In my home, where my children sleep”

Luigi Maroni’s death scene in the orange grove

If there are any more glaring references that I’ve missed please let me know.

So the Long Halloween has jumped to the top of my favourite Batman books and may just have jumped into the top position as my favourite Graphic Novel. If your looking for a jumping on point to start reading Batman I still think you should start with Batman Year One but then you really do need to read the Long Halloween.

So a few last thoughts,

I owe somebody a large JD and coke for the recommendation.

And has anybody else noticed that Solomon Grundy looks like Jon of the Gadget Show.

GS Rating – 5/5. A brilliant book, Loeb throws everything at the story and somehow it sticks into a coherent story of broken friendships, serial killers and supervillains. A Classic.

GS Reviewer – Nick Roberts – @nickroberts101

More from the world of Geek Syndicate

One comment

  1. Damn straight! Make it a double 😉

%d bloggers like this: