Comic Review :’The Long Halloween’ by Jeph Loeb

Acknowledgments where they belong. I picked up this particular graphic novel after a Batman: The Long Halloweendiscussion on the current TV show Gotham in which it was suggested that The Long Halloween was one of the biggest influences on The Dark Knight movie we all know and love. After reading it in two sittings I can both that the influence is obvious and that it is worth reading on its own anyway.

Representing one long story arc that takes place over a single year The Long Halloween pits Batman against a killer called Holiday. Holiday is something unique as he/she is targeting members of Carmine Falcone’s criminal enterprise; leaving a question of why this vigilante is better or worse than Batman. The question comes from Gordan himself; is Gotham attracting a different sort of criminal because of Batman’s presence? The Long Halloween also acts as something of an origin story for one particular villain. I won’t name who but from the first appearance I was waiting for the eventual ‘snap.’

This was a strong overall story that in my mind was somewhat hampered by its episodic nature; it felt like the series of short comics it was. On the one hand this lead to some very cool appearance by almost the entire Batman villain pantheon; or at least all those that a novice like myself would know. As a showcase I doubt there is a much better representation. Both the Joker and Catwoman are woven into the story several times with great effect.  Selina Kyle especially shined in this run more than a match for Bruce even without her other moniker.   I also appreciated the way the art worked with Catwoman and Poison Ivy; allowing them both to be sensual with resorting to fan service.

On the other hand the story could have been pulled off just as effectively with about half of the cast. Several of the villains seemed to be present only to knocked off my a checklist; showing up an disappearing without contributing the story in any fashion. If I had the collection in individual comics rather than a single bound collection I would discard about six issues before passing it on to the next reader—and they would get the same story I did in a lot less jarring format.

Several plot lines needed to be tied up by the end of the story arc and the conclusions were something of a mixed bag. The villain creation story was exactly how it should have been as was the final twist on the Holiday killer itself. But there was a collection of villains who made a final appearance that I really didn’t see the need for. Sadly this included a very unsatisfying end to Catwoman’s otherwise excellent story.

I wasn’t into superheroes much as a kid but Batman will always be cool. This is the comic I have read that actually focuses on the dark knight but I am more than willing to start catching up.