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Batman: The Long Halloween

An acclaimed Batman graphic novel written by Jeph Loeb and with artwork by Tim Sale.

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Clever tricks make "The Long Halloween" a real treat

  • Aug 17, 2008
Rating:
+3
The debate rages on between Batman fans as to who is the better Batman writer: Frank Miller or Jeph Loeb. Miller tends to focus more on the psychology of the character, where Loeb focuses more on his skills as a troubled detective. Loeb's first seminal Batman work, following a successful stint on the "Legends of the Dark Knight" series, was "Batman: The Long Halloween," published in 13 issues from late 1996 to late 1997. "The Long Halloween" picks up after Miller's "Batman: Year One." Someone is murdering prominent Gotham citizens on holidays. At the end of each month, Batman races to discover the identity of the killer, nicknamed "Holiday," and to stop him or her. Aiding him is Lieutenant Jim Gordon and spunky District Attorney Harvey Dent. Those familiar with the Batman mythos know where this is headed.

"The Long Halloween" was heavily influenced by film noir, as well as "The Godfather." The "Godfather" influence is clear in its depiction of the Falcone family, and its noir influences are clear throughout the story, especially in its depiction of Selina Kyle, who is given the femme fatale status she so deserves. There's plenty of substance to go with that style. Loeb can certainly craft a story. "The Long Halloween" is a delightful mystery, shifting the focus from just how messed up Bruce Wayne to Batman's detective skills. This is Batman as he was originally written. We see Bruce Wayne, disturbed and haunted billionaire. We see more of Batman, dark detective, prowling the tops of Gotham's skyscrapers, hiding in shadows, beating up thugs to know what he needs to know. Surprisingly, Loeb even creates a killer whose identity will keep readers guessing until the end -- and maybe even after that. To this day, the revelation still leaves people pondering.

Loeb's world is added dimension by Tim Sale's terrific artwork. Sale is such a wonderful artist. His work is some of the most distinctive and recognizable in the industry, alongside and yet vastly different from visionairies like Alex Ross or Frank Miller. Sale's artwork can be beautiful, gothic, chilling, grand, or gritty. It could even be all those things at once. But while Sale really hits the noir depiction of Selina Kyle, the way he draws her makes her seem kind of trashy to me, for lack of a better word. He did a much, much better job with her in the sequel, "Batman: Dark Victory." In every other way, though, Sale's artwork is wonderful.

Also wonderful is Loeb's focus on the friendship between Jim Gordon, Harvey Dent, and Batman/Bruce Wayne. He emphasizes the tragic angle of their friendship and the result, especially its result on Bruce Wayne. Loeb's depiction of their friendship may have influenced Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight." Screenwriter David S. Goyer has said that "The Long Halloween" was one of the three chief influences for "Batman Begins." Additionally, IGN Comics named "The Long Halloween" the fifth greatest Batman story in the history of the character. It was the only Batman story of the last 15 years to crack the top five.

For making a sixty-year-old character seem completely fresh and new, for crafting a very original and very engrossing mystery, and for making one of the best comics in recent years, Sale and Loeb deserve a lot of credit. "Batman: The Long Halloween" is one of the finest Batman stories, and a must-read for fans or casual readers looking to become acquainted even loosely with the world of comics.

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May 05, 2012
You've done a terrific job critiquing this one. It seems odd that no one told you that before.
 
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Tom Benton ()
Aspiring high school English teacher with dreams of filmmaking and a strong taste for music.
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About this book

Wiki

It's refreshing when you find a Batman story that both is epic and successfully explores the core of a resolutely explored character. Taking as its catalyst a sub-plot from the seminalBatman: Year One, the story revolves around murders occurring on national holidays, the victims connected to Mob boss "The Roman." Dubbed "Holiday," the killer uses an untraceable handgun and leaves small trinkets at the scene. Plenty of suspects are available, but the truth is something the Dark Knight never suspected. This series scores two major coups: it brilliantly portrays the transfer of Gotham rule to the supervillains and charts the horrific transformation of Harvey Dent from hardened D.A. to the psychotic Two-Face. Both orbit around the sharply portrayed relationship between Dent, Commissioner Gordon, and Batman: a triumvirate of radically different perceptions of Justice. It is always great to see the formative incarnation of Batman, drenched in noir here.

Jeph Loeb's writing is keenly aware that Batman is a detective, and Tim Sale portrays a Gotham that is a fertile breeding ground for corruption and madness. Here, Batman is coming to terms with the potent image he projects and the madness it attracts. There are many fine Batman stories, but the ones that capture the spirit with extreme clarity are few. On this alone, The Long Halloween comes highly recommended. Masterfully executed, this is an excellent chance to revisit the world of Batman as fresh as ...

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Details

ISBN-10: 1563894696
ISBN-13: 978-1563894695
Author: Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale
Genre: Comics & Graphic Novels, Superheroes
Publisher: DC Comics
Format: Graphic novel
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