Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Trade of The Month: The Long Halloween

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.

A city beset by gangsters, becoming a haven for freaks.

An honest district attorney hiding a terrible secret.

A dark woman tempting the Dark Knight detective.

and a friendship that would be shattered forever.

These are the pieces of the murder mystery:


Originally published in individual issue form over the course of a 13 month period spanning from 1996 to 1997 and then later collected into paperback in 1998, hardcover in 1999 and an absolute edition in 2007, Batman: The Long Halloween is a classic film noir tale of the crime families of gotham, Harvey Dent's transformation into the villain Two Face and also a thrilling murder mystery revolving around a killer who does his dirty work only on holidays.

The story is set a little bit after Batman: Year One, the Frank Miller miniseries that chronicled the character's modern origin and just happens to be my favorite Frank Miller Batman story. We see Gotham as a place being torn apart by various Mafia families while also seeing the rise of a cornucopia of super villains like The Joker, The Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, and Solomon Grundy which some see as a response to Batman's appearance in Gotham. This is such a great time in the history of the Batman, that pure and almost innocent period which is portrayed so well in both Batman Begins and Batman: Year One.

This was my second go around with The Long Halloween and just like the maiden voyage I embarked on several years ago, I could not put it down. This has got to be one of the most engaging and engrossing stories i've ever read. From the opening page to the last panel, Jeph Loeb is at his best here in the gritty world of Gotham City. He weaves a tight and cohesive narrative that rewards those who love a good mystery. The killer's identity is a mystery until the very end with twist after twist leaving you anxious and compelling you to turn the page and find out what happens next.

At the center of the story is the relationship between Commissioner Jim Gordon, Batman, and district attorney Harvey Dent. Of course those familiar with last summer's mega successful film The Dark Knight will be familiar with this territory as this story was one of the models the film took after.

The Long Halloween is the perfect story for Batman (The Bruce Wayne version, sorry Dick) and it also showcases what I enjoy most about the character. Nothing suits the world's greatest detective more than murder mystery. Why so many writers have either forgotten or chosen to ignore this fact is beyond my comprehension. In this tale, Jeph Loeb is able to magnificently flow from character to character and give us insight into the complexities of each while also showcasing what makes each dramatis personae unique. Much like another Leob/Sale team-up (Superman For All Seasons) you get a great revelation about Batman and you see his feelings for his city and the people that surround him.

I was not a big fan of Tim Sale's art when I first read this story. Oh how the times have changed. It was really fun going back and revisiting this because since my initial viewing Tim Sale has gone on to become one of my favorite artists in the industry and this might be his Mona Lisa. Every page and every panel is just a visual treat (No tricks here folks) and I love his character designs and splash pages in particular.

Overall, Batman: The Long Halloween is a captivating mystery with complex character interactions and relationships enhanced by Tim Sales gorgeous artwork and I can not recommend it enough to you. If you loved Batman Begins and The Dark Knight you will absolutely love Batman: The Long Halloween. I believe in Batman. I believe in Gotham City. And after reading Batman: The Long Halloween you will believe in Jeph Leob and Tim Sale.

Written by: Justin Vactor

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