Bat-mania: Batman: The Long Halloween

Guest Post

“I believe in Harvey Dent.”

The statement is briefly mentioned in Batman: A Long Halloween, but belief in all things hopeless and Gotham related is a theme in this book. Readers with Superman-tinged hearing will also remember the quote from permeating The Dark Knight, in case anyone has seen it. 400 million dollars later, the last statement is as dry humor as I can produce and after having written Bat-mania for three consecutive months, I have only now begun to get a little bored.

Anyhow, Long Halloween is a follow up to Batman:Year One, and the sequel you will note has not been crafted by Miller and Mazzucchelli as the first was, but be aware that Jeph Loeb and Sale did get permission from the legend to write it. This follow up chronicles a period of time after the original post-Crisis origin story and follows Batman on the hunt of a killer known only as Holiday since they only strike on holidays. In the meantime,every classic Batman villain becomes entangled in the plot including the Joker, Catwoman, Riddler and even the Mad Hatter. A mob war has also exploded between the Maroni and Falcone families keeping Batman, Dent and the police in general as busy as possible during the course of the 368 page book.

Having never read anything by Jeph Loeb or having ever investigated Sale’s artwork, this was a very pleasurable first experience, in which a highly structured story is enveloped in mythical, dramatic, Art Nouveau-esque visuals.

Batman is monstrously tall and ripped with big ears on the cowl making him more intimidating. A flowing, almost lifelike cape follows Batman wherever he goes which is something Todd McFarlane was known for and applied literally to his creation Spawn. Sale is in his own element and though I was initially turned off by his style when I first encountered it in Superman For All Seasons, his deft lines with the pens work perfectly for the Dark Knight. His interpretation of the villains as well, especially Poison Ivy, makes this book worth picking up on that merit alone.

Thankfully the writing is not to be left out of the mix. Teasing it out of the proverbial woodwork, Jeph Loeb only gives you glimpses of what is actually going on at times, making it a good mystery. Every time I suspected who Holiday really was, I was dead wrong. How nice! It kept me wanting to try and figure it out, but to no avail. Sale’s Batman is visually a monster and Jeph Loeb brings up the other end of the deal by complementing the artwork with violence and vengeance! Batman breaks teeth and ribs and shows nearly no mercy! How lovely! Honestly I do enjoy the brutal no holds barred Batman interps than the nice guy-detective in a silly costumed versions. Bruce Wayne has to have some switches flipped on and some off for him to work for today’s demanding readers.

The book also delves into the death of Wayne’s parents and his tormented soul. In the beginning of this article I mentioned that I was indeed getting a little bored with reviewing Batman products, and part of that boredom has come from the death of his parents. OK! They are dead already! Duh! Get over it! Go sell WMDs, kill a village and then become Iron Man err..wait.

Anyway, really this book is good. Perhaps you should wait till Fall to read it since it begins on Halloween. Perhaps the spooky visuals will seem more fitting when the weather is as dark and gloomy as the artwork. After all, in what really has become the Summer of the Bat, everyone could use something a little more uplifting.

Batman: A Long Halloween
Words: Jeph Loeb
Art: Tim Sale
DC Comics,1998.