Batman: The Long Halloween

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Batman: The Long Halloween

Batman: The Long Halloween TPB
Art by Tim Sale.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Limited series
Genre
Number of issues 13
Main character(s) Batman
Jim Gordon
Harvey Dent
Carmine Falcone
Creative team
Writer(s) Jeph Loeb
Artist(s) Tim Sale
Letterer(s) Comicraft
Richard Starkings
Colorist(s) Gregory Wright
Editor(s) Archie Goodwin
Chuck Kim
Collected editions
Absolute Batman: The Long Halloween ISBN 1-4012-1282-4

Batman: The Long Halloween is a 13-issue comic book limited series written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale. It was originally published by DC Comics in 1996 and 1997.[1] It was inspired by the three Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Specials by the same creative team. The entire series has been collected in both trade paperback, and as part of the DC Comics Absolute Editions. The series' success led to Loeb and Sale to reteam for two sequels, Batman: Dark Victory and Catwoman: When in Rome, which parallels the events in Dark Victory.

Taking place during Batman's early days of crime fighting, The Long Halloween tells the story of a mysterious killer named Holiday, who murders people on holidays, one each month. Working with District Attorney Harvey Dent and Captain James Gordon, Batman races against the calendar as he tries to discover who Holiday is before he claims his next victim each month, while attempting to stop the crime war between two of Gotham's most powerful families, Maroni and Falcone. This novel also acted as a main introduction for one of Batman's most elusive foes, The Calendar Man, who knows the true identity of the Holiday killer but refuses to share this with Batman. He instead riddles and gives Batman hints from his Arkham Asylum cell. The story also ties into the events that transform Harvey Dent into Batman's enemy, Two-Face.[2] Enemies such as Scarecrow, The Joker, Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy and The Riddler, among others, also make an appearance.

In continuity terms, The Long Halloween continues the story of Batman: Year One. It also revolves around the transition of Batman's rogues gallery from simple mob goons to full-fledged supervillains. It also tells the origin of Two-Face, adding along to the story in Batman: Annual #14.

Background[edit]

The project was sparked when group editor Archie Goodwin approached Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale at the 1995 San Diego Comic Convention and asked if the two of them wanted to do more Batman work.[3]

Jeph Loeb has stated that the genesis of the story was influenced by writer Mark Waid, who, when told that Loeb was working on a story set in the Year One continuity, suggested focusing on Harvey Dent's years prior to becoming Two-Face, as that had not been depicted in depth since the original Year One story.[4]

Plot[edit]

At a wedding in June, Gotham City mob boss Carmine "The Roman" Falcone tries to pressure Bruce Wayne to help launder money, and Bruce refuses. Bruce begins to leave the party with Selina Kyle, but they find Gotham District Attorney Harvey Dent, who has been beaten by some of the Falcone mob. After helping him, Bruce decides to leave alone.

As Batman, Bruce enters Falcone's penthouse to investigate. He encounters Catwoman, who flees from him. Batman ends the pursuit to answer a Bat-signal. Dent and police Captain Jim Gordon have called him, and the three enter a pact to end Falcone's reign by bending the rules if necessary, but never breaking them.

Later, at a meeting of the board of Gotham City Bank, Bruce opposes the position of the other members in favor of accepting Falcone's money. When he proves unable to sway them, Batman pays a visit to Richard Daniel, the bank president, warning him to keep the Falcone money out. Daniel subsequently resigns from his position and Bruce steps in. In August, Falcone orders his nephew Johnny Viti to take care of the problem. In September, Johnny kills Daniel, gunning him down as he steps out of a theatre.

On Halloween, Johnny Viti is shot twice in the head by an unknown assailant while taking a bath. The perpetrator leaves behind the murder weapon, a .22 caliber pistol with the nipple of a baby bottle used as a crude silencer, as well as a jack-o-lantern. That night Dent, Gordon and Batman discuss the murder, and Dent says he does not care about the death of a mafia hitman. Batman notices that Catwoman is eavesdropping, and she offers to help Batman hit the Roman where it hurts the most: his money. Catwoman's information leads Batman and Dent to a warehouse where the Roman has stockpiled over $20 million in paper cash. They together set fire to the warehouse and destroy the money.

"The Irish," a gang of Irish hitmen for hire, are all put under Carmine Falcone's payroll to kill then-district-attorney Harvey Dent by blowing up his house. Dent and his wife Gilda survive. Later, on Thanksgiving, they are all murdered in a hotel banquet room as they sit down to eat Thanksgiving dinner. On Christmas, Milos Grappa, Carmine Falcone's bodyguard is murdered in front of Don's building. It initially seems to be the work of one of Falcone's rivals.

On New Year's Eve, Batman is forced to put his investigation on hold to stop the Joker from murdering everyone in Gotham Square with his laughing gas. Joker wants to kill Holiday, who he believes will be in Gotham Square, because Gotham "isn't big enough big enough for two homicidal maniacs." Meanwhile, Dent's new assistant, Vernon Fields, searches old police files and discovers a connection between Carmine Falcone and Bruce Wayne. On Falcone's yacht in Gotham Harbor, Falcone's son Alberto falls overboard, shot by Holiday.

During the next few months Holiday starts killing members of Sal Maroni's mob. This leads to a huge gang war between Falcone and the Maronis, forcing Falcone to employ "freaks" such as The Riddler and Poison Ivy to stabilize his empire. A large number of Maroni's soldiers are killed alongside some of Falcone's guards at Maroni's only legitimate business; an Italian restaurant. Another amount of Maroni's men are assassinated at his safe house on St. Patrick's Day, just before Falcone's daughter could go there and pull a hit on them herself.

On April Fools Day, Riddler is attacked but left unharmed. Holiday's guns are traced back to Gotham's Chinatown neighborhood, but the Chinese gun-maker is found murdered inside his shop on Mother's Day.

Dent is investigating a possible confection between Bruce Wayne and the Falcone family. They arrested Bruce on Mother's Day after he was gassed by Scarecrow when he escaped from Arkham Asylum. Thomas Wayne once saved Falcone's life after he was shot, and Dent has concluded that a connection exists between the sons. However, the subsequent trial on Father's Day turns in Bruce's favor after Alfred embarrasses the prosecution by testifying that Thomas Wayne's original report of the shooting never came to light due to the city's long history of police corruption.

Batman tracks The Riddler, whom Holiday let live on April Fool’s Day. The Riddler explains that Falcone hired him to find out who Holiday was but kicked him out when the solutions he gave were less than satisfactory. Batman suspects that the Riddler was left alive to spread that the Roman was looking for Holiday.

On August 2, Falcone's birthday, Maroni is going to trial to testify against him. Before going to the stand, Fields hands him a bottle of acid that appears to be heartburn medicine. During questioning, Maroni hurls the acid at Dent, hideously disfiguring half of his face. Dent is rushed to the hospital, where he stabs a doctor and escapes. Meanwhile, Viti's mother Carla, investigating the coroner’s files on the Holiday victims, becomes one herself.

On Labor Day, Dent has been hiding in Gotham’s sewers for a month. He crosses paths with Solomon Grundy, who attacks him. Dent is able to calm him. Gordon, meanwhile, has come to the conclusion that Dent is Holiday. Batman refuses to acknowledge it, but Gordon demands to hear the truth from Dent himself. Batman questions Falcone about Dent's location. The Roman accuses Batman of knowing that Dent was Holiday but standing aside. Batman then seeks out Catwoman, demanding to know why she is so interested in Falcone. She refuses to answer, and runs away. Batman ends up at Arkham Asylum talking to Julian Day, the Calendar Man. Batman tells him that they know Dent is Holiday but not how to find him. Calendar Man suggests that, it being a holiday, Holiday is probably heading to kill Maroni.

That night Gordon, at Batman’s request, moves Maroni to a new cell. Holiday surfaces to shoot Maroni twice in the head during the prisoner transfer, and his bodyguard several times in the chest. Holiday turns his gun on Gordon, who discovers Holiday's true identity is Alberto Falcone, who faked his own death. The bodyguard, who was really Batman, beats Alberto so severely it almost kills him, but Gordon stops him. Alberto is placed under arrest and jailed.

On Halloween, all of the Arkham inmates except Calendar Man are released by Dent, based on the flip of a coin. Falcone and his daughter Sofia are ambushed in their penthouse by the escapees, Dent (who has now become Two-Face) and Catwoman. Batman intervenes, but is unable to stop Two-Face from murdering Falcone. During the following scuffle, Sofia falls out a window. Two-Face escapes and kills his former assistant Fields for helping Maroni scar him. Later, Two-Face turns himself in to Gordon and Batman. As he is cuffed, he tells them there were "two" Holiday killers.

Later, Gordon and Batman discuss what Two-Face might have meant, since Alberto has confessed to all the Holiday murders. They suspect Dent to be the last Holiday as he committed the murders on Halloween.

Alberto admits to committing all of the Holiday murders, including that of his cousin, Johnny Viti. His father offers to use his influence to free Alberto, if he only admits to killing Maroni. Alberto refuses, however, smugly saying that his new reputation as Holiday makes him much bigger than his father and all the gangsters in the mob put together. He is convicted and sentenced to death. He avoids the gas chamber after being declared insane, and is sent to Arkham Asylum, where he occupies a cell across from the Calendar Man's.

On Christmas Eve, Gilda is packing up boxes for her move away from Gotham, but before she leaves, she takes a box down the basement furnace. She describes aloud to herself how she read in Dent's case files about the removal of the serial numbers of guns and how baby bottle nipples could be used as silencers. She then removes from the box a .22 pistol and drops it into the flames of the heater, along with a familiar-looking hat and coat. She claims that she took it upon herself to start the Holiday killings, in an attempt to end the Roman’s hold on Gotham and thus lighten Dent's caseload so that they could have a child. Her belief is that Dent took up the killings on New Year’s Eve and that Alberto is lying to the police with his confession. She also says that she knows Dent will eventually be cured and that they will reconcile, because she believes in him.

Critical reaction[edit]

Critical reaction to The Long Halloween has been mainly positive.

Hilary Goldstein of IGN Comics praised Loeb's story as "tight, engrossing, and intelligent writing that never betrays the characters", adding that he "mixes Batman and Bruce Wayne's lives as well as anyone has, and brilliantly demonstrates the bond of brotherhood shared by Batman, Jim Gordon and then District Attorney Harvey Dent."[5] Goldstein later ranked The Long Halloween #5 on a list of the 25 best Batman graphic novels.[6]

Yannick Belzil of The 11th Hour said that "Jeph Loeb has crafted a story that is unique to the characters. It's a complex murder mystery, but its also a Batman story." Belzil added: "Buoyed by a film noir-ish plot that features a Gothic twist on the gangster/murder mystery plot, terrific character-based subplots, and beautiful, cinematic art, [The Long Halloween is] an addition to your collection that you won't regret."[7]

The book is not without its detractors. Chad Nevett, writing for Comic Book Resources, reviewed the book, saying "If this is considered one of the better Batman stories available, then it confirms what I’ve long thought: the major superhero icons may have stuck around for decades, but they have few truly great stories told about them. The Long Halloween is, I’ll grant you, entertaining — in that mindless way where a mediocre mystery is drawn out over 13 issues, filled with smaller stories that mostly go nowhere."[8] He goes on to criticize the story's reliance on red herrings and lack of consistent narrative voice.

In other media[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1990s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 275. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "The acclaimed team of writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale reunited to chronicle a dark year of the Dark Knight's past with Batman: The Long Halloween, a thirteen-part limited series." 
  2. ^ Beatty, Scott (2008), "Batman", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, London: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 40–44, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5 
  3. ^ Brady, Matthew (August 1997). "Delivery Room". Wizard (72). pp. 56–60. 
  4. ^ Mark Salisbury. Writers on Comics Scriptwriting 1999. Titan Books. Pages 152-165.
  5. ^ Batman: The Long Halloween review, Hilary Goldstein, IGN, June 1, 2005
  6. ^ The 25 Greatest Batman Graphic Novels, Hilary Goldstein, IGN, June 13, 2005
  7. ^ Comic Reviews - Batman: The Long Halloween, Yannick Belzil, The 11th Hour
  8. ^ The Reread Reviews — Batman: The Long Halloween
  9. ^ This is mentioned inside the front cover of the Batman Begins mini digest comic book that reprints portions of these three stories that comes with the DVD.
  10. ^ Corriea, Alexa Ray (August 7, 2013). "Batman: Arkham Origins skin pack adds alternate timeline costumes". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on August 7, 2013. Retrieved August 7, 2013.