Thursday, December 24, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
We are knee-deep in the 12 Days of Gotham, and I can’t think of a better topic than to talk about one of the best Batman stories out there. Batman: The Long Halloween is a fantastic year long mystery that follows the Batman: Year One storyline written by Frank Miller. LH was written by Jeph Loeb and the artist for the series was Tim Sale. This story was originally printed in 1996 and concluded in 1997. If you have not read this story, you definitely should. I am not going to outline this story, but focus on the main villain “Holiday” also known as “The Holiday Killer”. I will warn you one last time, if you plan on reading The Long Halloween, you should wait to read this blog post. You have been warned.
Long Halloween focuses on Captain James Gordon and DA Harvey Dent as they try to bring the Falcone Crime family to Justice with the help of Batman. While this is the backbone of the story, a much deeper mystery is discovered as members of the Falcone crime family are being killed my some unknown person. The killer continues their reign of terror for a full year, only killing on Holidays. This presents problems for Batman, Harvey, and Gordon as they are for the majority of the story, not certain of Holiday’s identity. Holiday always uses the same method in killing his victims. A .22 caliber pistol with a rubber baby bottle nipple used as a silencer and the grips are taped with the serial numbers filed off. The killer also leaves a trinket relevant to the holiday that the murder takes place on. The newspapers of Gotham City dub him “The Holiday Killer” because of this method. The crime spree begins on Halloween and continues for a full year to the following Halloween. Each month during this year a murder takes place, except for April fool’s day where the Riddler is confronted but left alive for some reason and on New Year’s Eve where the victim is later found to be alive as well. Loeb treats us to a number of clues and swerves that make the mystery even more difficult to figure out.
The list of victims is a vast range of people in Gotham with connection to the Falcone crime family one way or another.
The first Halloween killing was Carmine Falcone’s nephew, Johnny Viti. This murder looks like its mob connected because Johnny had threatened to testify against his uncle Carmine Falcone (head of the Family). On Thanksgiving a gang of five Irish assassins were killed and it was revealed that this gang had been ordered to kill Harvey Dent. Carmine’s personal bodyguard, Milos Grapa was killed on Christmas. Alberto Falcone, who is Carmine’s son, faked his death on New Year’s Eve. Mobsters hired by Carmine as well as many innocent patrons of Sal Maroni’s restaurant were killed on Valentine’s Day. April fool’s Day was the enigma; The Riddler was shot at but not killed. This could be because of the nature of the holiday of April fool’s Day. Mothers Day was the next holiday that someone was murdered. It was the gunsmith who had been making Holiday’s .22 pistols. Luigi Malroni who is Sal’s father was murdered on Father’s Day. The Gotham City coroner was killed on Independence Day. This murder along with the gunsmith shows that Holiday does not want to be discovered, and when your city is the home of the world’s greatest detective that’s probably a good idea to cover your tracks as best you can. On The Roman’s birthday Carla Viti was killed. She is the sister to Carmine Falcone and the mother to Johnny Viti. As the year draws to an end Sal Maroni was killed on Labor Day and Carmine himself was killed on the Halloween along with Vernon Field who was a corrupt assistant to Harvey Dent.
OK, now that we have zipped through the list of victims, what about the identity of the killer you might ask? Well that what’s so great about this story and why it is still one of the greatest Bat stories every told in my opinion. No one knows who Holiday is for sure. There is quite a list of possible suspects who could have been the Holiday Killer. You could even make the argument that there was more than one person responsible for these killings. Here are the most common possibilities of who might have been responsible.
Alberto Falcone was the youngest in the family and even though he faked his own death on New Year’s Eve he was the one sentenced to death for the Holiday murders. He was captured by Batman and Gordon after the murder of Sal Maroni. He becomes the lead suspect after faking his own death because the murders following that were to cover up his own false murder. Carmine’s daughter Sofia tracks down the gunsmith in an attempt to figure out the identity of Holiday, but finds the gunsmith already dead. The coroner is killed because he is the one who knows that Alberto tried to fake his death. Carla Viti is murdered because she is able to research the police files on Holiday and presumably gets too close to figuring out the identity of Holiday and the fact that Alberto is still alive. Some unused Tim Sale panel artwork was published in the Long Halloween hardcover that shows Carmine sobbing over a decomposed corpse after New Year’s. While trying to connect Alberto to the first three Holiday killings some facts don’t add up. First the Irish were on the Falcone payroll, Milos was a trusted bodyguard to Carmine himself, and Johnny Viti, the first victim was Alberto’s cousin. Even though his loyalties were not always with the Falcone family. Gilda Dent, Harvey’s wife confessed to being Holiday, but it can only be assumed that she was the killer up to the New Years Eve event. However she was hospitalized when the Irish were taken down so her confession is thought to be a delusional event she created in her mind. If you look at Aberto’s motives for being Holiday there are some inconsistencies. He claimed to be lashing out against his father for not allowing him to be more involved in “the family business” and he also was so envious of the fame that went with being a murderous villain in Gotham City. A prominent running theme of LH was the transformation of a mob-driven city to a city of murderous and evil “freaks”. So this confession of Alberto was a clear demonstration of how things were shifting in Gotham at the time.
Gilda Dent who is the wife of Harvey and subsequently Two-Face admitted in a private monologue that she was the first Holiday. She explained her motives for doing so was that Harvey could not settle down and have a family until the crime family was destroyed. She suspected that Harvey had taken up the Holiday mantle after he came home on New Year’s Eve with wet hair. Gilda thought that Harvey had taken it upon himself to rid Gotham of the Falcone mob and decided to let him proceed uninterrupted by her to finish the job so they could finally raise a family. Like I mentioned earlier, it was impossible that Gilda was the sole murderer due to the fact she was bedridden in the hospital during the murder of the Irish. However she admits to sneaking out of the hospital to do the job without anyone knowing she was gone. Another problem was how she could have infiltrated the Falcone headquarters to kill Johnny and Milos without being detected.
Harvey Dent was technically responsible for being the last of the Holiday Killers. He murdered Carmine Falcone and Vernon Field on the final Halloween. He left behind his trademark two-sided coin at the scene of the final murder. Harvey before becoming Two-Face was already a suspect. Batman had provided a ledger from Carmine’s safe that had all the crucial information on it that Harvey would have needed to commit the murders. But it was inadmissible in court as Batman naturally obtained it without a warrant. Gilda had found a .22 pistol in the basement of their home which Harvey claimed was evidence in a crime. Batman and Gordon conclude that Harvey was the Holiday Killer from the start, but the reappearance of Alberto throws their theory for a loop and make them not so confident that it was Harvey. Earlier in the story when Dent first hears of Johnny Vito’s murder he says “Two shots to the head. If you ask me it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.” Two-Face says the exact same thing after killing Carmine Falcone. Harvey’s involvement and suspected guilt raise a question integral to the character of Harvey/Two-Face. Was he prone to these types of acts before getting acid thrown in his face making him Two-Face? Or was it the event itself that drove him over the edge loosing grip with his own personality. This was theme to the recent movie “The Dark Knight”, examining the psyche of Harvey and how far he would go for “justice” to be served.
There are a few other characters that were thrown in as red herrings to make the mystery even deeper, causing the reader to really question who possibly could have been the Holiday Killer. Sal Maroni was an early suspect as he was the top rival to the Falcone family. But when his own father is killed, the innocence of Sal in these killings is revealed. Selina Kyle (Catwoman) was theorized as being the Holiday Killer mostly because of the light nature of the murder weapon, a .22 caliber pistol. Batman clears her of any involvement when she helps him capture Scarecrow and Mad Hatter who was working with the Falcone family. Carla Vitti was a suspect for a short time as well when it was believed that she might have murdered her own son, Johnny for betraying the Falcone family by threatening to testify against them. She was cleared of suspicion when Holiday killed her.
So with all this crazy mash up of a suspect list where does it leave us? I’ll tell you where, right back at the beginning. The true identity of Holiday has never been revealed. The Riddler has made some theories towards the end of the story, along with Batman and Gordon. The consensus is that Holiday was more than one person. Started by one individual for a certain reason, and then taken up by others for completely different reasons. This my friends is what makes it so hard to figure out who it was and what makes this such a fantastic story in itself. Often we expect that we will be given the answers we seek in a story, it is nice to be able to read a story that keeps us guessing to the present which is more than 12 years after it was published.
Friday, December 18, 2009
The good thing about this is that the script for the movie is written by Judd Winick the same person who penned the Under The Hood storyline in the Batman comic (and reality TV star).
The story focuses on the return of The Red Hood to Gotham, while also delving into a war between the Joker and the Black Mask.
I for one am excited to see more animated movies being based off of storylines from the actual comics, and the fact that they are using the same writer is definitely a step in the right direction.
Source: Comic Vine
You can read the full comics at Super Not Super.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
"Holiday Knights" is the premiere episode of The New Batman Adventures. Despite being originally aired in September, this episode contains three Christmas themed vignettes, all completely unrelated to one another. The first story stars Batman in pursuit of Gotham's dames, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn; the following tale is about Batgirl's confrontation with Clayface; finally we have the Clown Prince of Crime on the loose with Batman and Robin trying to stop him.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Newsarama has a nice interview with one of my current favorite artists, Gary Frank. Check the link for Frank's thoughts on the newly announced Batman: Earth One.
DC Comics is beginning a line of Earth One comics that will tell the stories of iconic DC superheroes in a modern setting. While J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis will be creating Superman: Earth One, Johns and Frank will reunite for Batman: Earth One.
The Earth One comics will not only update the stories of the heroes themselves, but will be presented in a more modern format as well, with a continuing series of graphic novels.
As Johns and Frank finish up Superman: Secret Origin, Newsarama talked to Frank about his upcoming work on Batman: Earth One and why he keeps coming back to Geoff Johns as his creative collaborator.
My excitement for this project continues to grow. For more on my thoughts, be sure to download this week's Gotham Central Podcast.
I love that film and DeVito's performance as The Penguin. What did you guys think?
Monday, December 7, 2009
CollegeHumor.com has always been a great source for hilarious Batman/Gotham City material.
Today they posted a comic about how to fire someone in Gotham City, check out the link below :D
DC's Source Blog has just released info on an upcoming series featuring all new, original stories with Batman and Superman in graphic novel form from the biggest creators in the industry. And don't get it twisted, Gotham-ites, these are not one shot stories, but rather a whole new ongoing series of graphic novels set in a new continuity on a new Earth.
The Source Blog reports:
Starting next year, DC Comics will unveil SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE and BATMAN: EARTH ONE, two graphic novels spotlighting the most powerful heroes of the DC Universe, with their first years and earliest moments retold in a standalone, original graphic novel format, on a new earth with an all-new continuity.
Return to Smallville and experience the journey of Earth’s greatest adopted son, as he grows from boy to Superman in SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE by J. Michael Straczynski and artist Shane Davis.
Watch from the darkest corners of Crime Alley as a young boy is struck by unbelievable tragedy that will forge the greatest crime-fighter to ever stalk the rooftops of Gotham City in BATMAN: EARTH ONE, by writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank.
What does JMS have to say? Well, here’s a snippet from his first interview on the subject:
“What I’m trying to do is to dig in to the character and look at him through modern eyes. If you were to create the Superman story today, for the first time, but keep intact all that works, what would it look like?”
“It is monumental for us as comic readers to see Superman birthed for the first time,” Davis said. “It’s a privilege to realize that you’re the artist that gets to draw it, better yet having the luxury to do it in an original graphic novel. This is going to be epic!”
What about Geoff Johns? Well, we happen to have a bit from his first interview as well:
“BATMAN: EARTH ONE allows Gary and I to break the restraints of any continuity and focus on two things: character and story.”
Artist Shane Davis spoke to Newsarama here
Gary Frank is one of my favorite artists working in comics today and the idea of Original Graphic Novels intrigues me. I'm on board, how about you?