Batman: The Long Halloween

Writer: Jeph Loeb

Artist: Tim Sale

Distributed By: DC Comics

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Once upon a time, there was a young boy who, after witnessing his parents’ murder, swore that he would right the wrongs of Gotham and seek out justice for all the criminal activities in the city they had called home.  The young boy grew to be a millionaire man – a man with a secret.  By day he was millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne; by night he was the caped crusader and guardian of the night, Batman.  There were many adventures in the crime fighting caped crusader’s career, but one will haunt him the rest of his days – The Long Halloween.

            The Long Halloween is a trade paperback collection of a series of thirteen comic books taking place early on in Batman’s career.  It all begins with a murder on Halloween night – that of crime boss Carmine “The Roman” Falcone’s nephew.  Each holiday afterward, another murder, sometimes in Falcone’s family, sometimes it’s a member of his rival, Sal “The Boss” Maroni’s gang, sparking a war between the two mobster families.  Everyone is pointing fingers.  The evidence left behind leads to too many people with motives.  Even District Attorney Harvey Dent is suspect.  Can Batman and Gotham Police Captain James Gordon discover the murderer’s identity before another holiday reveals another dead body?

            The Long Halloween is one thick daunting-looking trade paperback.  However, once I started reading, I couldn’t put the thing down.  I finished it in one day.  The mystery that unfolded was terrific and I enjoyed the idea of Holiday – the killer who took a life for each major holiday of the calendar year…except for April Fool’s Day, of course.  With each chapter of the series, the mystery deepened as more criminals made their way into the mix.  Readers are treated with visits by the Joker, the Riddler, Scarecrow, the Calendar Man, the Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy and more, all with a stake in discovering the identity of Holiday.  Even Catwoman is there, but readers won’t know until the end whose side she’s really on.

            Jeph Loeb has created the perfect murder mystery, one that has a surprise ending that will shock even the most observant of readers.  Even I was thrown off a tad when learning the true identity of the Holiday killer.  The clues he left kept you guessing from chapter to chapter.  I also loved the little side stories that seemed to have no meaning to the tale until it all tied together in the end.  I loved what Loeb did with the character of Harvey Dent.  He made readers care about him and this made it easier to understand how a fine, upstanding District Attorney like Harvey Dent could become the evil, twisted murderer known as Two-Face.

            Tim Sale’s artwork was as dark as expected – aren’t all of the recent Batman comic books dark?  Although I wasn’t exactly enthused with his renditions of the Joker and the Riddler, I thought he did an excellent job with Batman, James Gordon and Harvey Dent.  Many other characters were drawn well, including Solomon Grundy and Two-Face.  As the murder works on his weapon of choice, one begins to appreciate Tim Sale’s attention to detail and becomes used to it as the comic goes along.

            As an added bonus, readers are treated to an introduction written by Jeph Loeb which explains how he was approached to do The Long Halloween series and how he felt about the whole experience.  We also get to see some “deleted scenes” – artwork that never made it into the series is displayed at the end of the tale, along with explanations as to why they were deleted.

            Combine murder mystery, caped crusader, the only cop in Gotham not on the take, a distraught District Attorney, several criminals, two warring crime families and great writing and artwork and you have Batman: The Long Halloween trade paperback.  At $19.99 U.S. for thirteen comic books compiled into a 369-page book with extras, this trade paperback is a steal!  By far, Batman: The Long Halloween is a perfect addition to any comic book collection that no self-respecting Batman fan dare ignore!


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