In the world of superheroes few are as associated with Halloween as the caped crusader known as Batman. After all, he dresses up at night, his symbol is a bat and he uses fear as his main weapon against criminals. His rogue’s gallery even includes a murderous psychotic clown, a guy that dresses as a scarecrow and uses fear toxin and a thief dressed as a cat. Many of his stories like The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum are fit for this time of year but perhaps the most fitting of all is the one that is arguably one of Batman’s best stories: Batman: The Long Halloween.
The story follows the trio of Batman, Police Captain Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent as they combine their resources to rid Gotham City of the criminal empire of Carmine “The Roman” Falcone. But a serial killer seems to be ahead of them as he or she takes down key members of Falcone’s gang, as well as his rival’s Salvatore Vincent “Sal” Maroni, in specific holidays, gaining the nickname Holiday. Batman, Gordon and Dent must find out who the killer s and bring him or her to justice before the Gotham underworld, along with the city itself, descend into chaos.
The story is brilliantly crafted by Jeph Loeb, an iconic comics writer that left his mark in both Marvel and DC, with stories like Spider-man: Blue, Age of Apocalypse and the story arc “Public Enemies” from his run on Superman//Batman, which inspired the animated movie of the same name. In this story, Loeb develops an intense crime-thriller, with the characters and intrigue taking inspiration from great cinema classics like The Godfather and Silence of the Lambs. As is the case, the characters never feel cartoony, since they’re either complex characters with strengths and faults and a blurred conception of right and wrong or madmen and women who are intimidating due to their unpredictability. Plus the fact that Batman is in his early days of crime-fighting, he doesn’t have as many resources, which raises the stakes in a big way. As for the killer’s identity, the subtle hints and multiple red herrings will keep you guessing. And the final reveal does not disappoint.
As for the drawings, we have artist Tim Sale to thank for. Sale is most known for his work with Loeb in comics like Spider-man: Blue and Superman For All Seasons. His biggest strength as an artist is the ability to differentiate the more realistic characters with the more cartoony ones, which helps paint the contrast between Gotham’s old school mobsters and the newer more psychotic criminals. And colorist Gregory Wright also deserves praise for giving the novel a tone that is both dark and colorful, just like Halloween.
Also worthy of mention is the story’s use of Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Many of Batman’s most well-known foes, as well as some lesser-known villains, are featured in this graphic novel, and all of them done right. Surprisingly, the Joker is does take the center as the main antagonist despite a great portrayal of the character. But this is ultimately a wise move from the creators, as it allows the story to focus on some of the more complex and morally grey of Batman’s rogues such as Catwoman. Even one of Batman’s goofiest villains, the Calender Man, is given the role of a criminal mastermind, as his extensive knowledge of dates is instrumental to help Batman and puts him one step ahead of everyone as to where and when the killings will occur.
Ultimately, Batman: The Long Halloween is worthy of its place as one of the greatest Batman stories ever told. It’s great legacy is proved by the fact that it served as one of the main inspirations for the Dark Knight trilogy, from specific scenes like Batman, Gordon and Dent meeting at the rooftop to the overall theme of the old class of criminals, the mobsters and gangters, slowly giving away to a new class of criminals, the lunatics and psychopaths. This is more than confirmed by the director of said trilogy: Christopher Nolan, as he had this to say about the graphic novel:
“The Long Halloween is more than a comic, it’s an epic tragedy.”
So whether you’re a Batman fan or not, I highly recommend you read this amazing graphic novel in its entirety this Halloween, or read the first chapter today and the following ones in their correspondent holidays to have a more authentic experience. And to all of you a great Halloween!
Written by: Miguel Coelho
Have you read Batman: The Long Halloween? What did you think about it? Share your thoughts in the comments and stay tuned for more Geek Motivation Reading Recommendations. And for more DC-related articles, be sure to follow Geek Motivation on Twitter (@GEEKMOTIVATION) and me (@Miguel42Coelho) and help as change the world, one geek at a time!