BATMAN: You’re insane.
THE JOKER: Has it really taken you this long to notice? (125)

Batman: Year One shows Gotham’s dark knight dealing with conventional gangsters. Batman’s adventures very quickly focus on grotesque and costumed super-villains. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Batman: The Long Halloween (soon to be re-released in a special absolute edition) explores the start of that transition.

Title: Batman: The Long Halloween
Writing: Jeph Loeb.
Art: Tim Sales, Gregory Wright
ISBN: 1563894696

Available from Amazon.com and
Amazon.ca

Premise:

Batman tracks a holiday-obsessed killer while an underworld battle brews between old school mobsters and Gotham’s grotesques. The city’s crusading district attorney, Harvey Dent, finds himself divided.

High Point

Sale’s dark, comic-book portraits of Gotham by night suit the story. His Gotham recalls every large city and yet resembles none of them. I also like his echoes of 1940s comic books and style

Low Point

The final twist doesn’t quite make sense—and we were never shown clues that might have allowed us to make this discovery.

The Scores

Originality: 2/6 This doesn’t feel very original, and not just because we know the characters. The Long Halloween’s plot and art echo and steal from a hundred other comics and movies, including Year One (obviously), The Godfather, and Silence of the Lambs.

Artwork: 5/6. Sale’s style may not appeal to everyone, but it suits this story.

Story: 4/6. The story tries to address too much at once: the origin of Two-Face, the Batman/Gordon/Dent relationship, a serial killer, a Hannibal-Lectoresque informant, the decline of Year One’s gangsters, the role of Catwoman, the Bruce Wayne/Selina Kyle relationship, the Wayne family’s past connection to Carmen “the Roman” Falcone, and the rise of the grotesques. Loeb does a fair job, but he’s trying to connect too many subplots, and none receive enough attention.

To his credit, he paces this thing well, and these 370 pages, while tortuously plotted, are never plodding.

Characterization: 4/6. Batman and Alfred are well-written, and Gordon’s a passable mirror of his Year One characterization. We also have an interesting take on Catwoman, and I’m willing to wink at how quickly the enterprising Ms. Kyle has bought her way into high society. Other characters have been written to serve the demands of the story. I’m thinking here particularly about the solution(s) to the “Holiday Killer” mystery.

The underworld dialogue (even for a comic book) seems too clichéd and contrived.

Emotional Response: 4/6 It’s matter of perspective. If you regard The Long Halloween as a graphic novel, a sequel to Year One, it may disappoint.

Flow 5/6.

Overall: 5/6 If you approach The Long Halloween as a year’s worth of comics, collected, with several overlapping plots, then it’s pretty good.

In total, Batman: The Long Halloween receive a score of 29/42.

Tune in next week, same battime, same batchannel, for Batman: Dark Victory, the sequel to this volume– and a pretty good retelling of Robin’s origin.