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Off! the Shelf
The Long Halloween
Reviewed by Justin Colburn and Keayn Dunya
Gotham city is in the grip of mob boss Carmine "The Roman" Falcone. In order to rid the city of this evil three men, Captain Gordon, District Attorney Harvey Dent, and Batman make a vow to rid the city of this evil at all cost. The results of that pact: a serial killer using the holidays to mark his handiwork, a city beset by gangsters, becoming a haven for freaks, and a friendship that would be shattered forever, prove to be too high a price to pay.
This is the first Batman story that I can remember reading and though I've read more over the years, this story still stands out in my mind as the best. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale take Batman back to basics with a classic mobster/detective tale in this follow up to Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. When I was getting back into comics after high school the Long Halloween was a great introduction to the entire Batman mythos, introducing you to a large portion of Batman's rogues gallery and several of his supporting characters. Too often storytellers try to build Batman and the characters surrounding him into being something more than human, forgetting that the major appeal of these characters is that they are human. His villains are not brilliant criminal masterminds; Two-Face is obsessed with eh number two, Mr. Freeze is on a mission to revive his frozen wife and the Joker is a psycho that destroys life for his own personal amusement. They're all crazy, they're all dangerous, but when you get right down to it they're all still human. Loeb's prior experience with the character shines through clearly, as does Tim Sales with the artwork. Together the two of them have created a very dark and moody noir tale with great dialogue and clever use of color and negative space. If you've never read a Batman story before and you're interested, this dark and twisting murder mystery will have you guessing incorrectly until the very end.
Throughout my comic reading life there have been few characters that I have always liked. Batman is among those few. The mystique of Batman is unavoidable. A superhero with no powers just the will to train and to try and outthink his opponent. Actually Batman did have one superpower, the strength of his will. Few books have been a good venue for Batman. Batman: The Long Halloween is in my opinion one of the best. At its heart it's a film noir tale about gangsters. The Long Halloween harkens back to the intent of the Dark Knight Detective, as man whose original intent was to clean up Gotham city of its corruption. Add into the mix Batman's Rogues Gallery as the freaks come home to roost and you have a superb story.
"The Roman" Falcone is trying to preserve an aging empire, which Batman has sworn to bring down. Complicating their mission is the serial killer "holiday" who is systematically killing The Romans men. Once the Joker gets hold of this there is hell to pay. No one upstages the Joker in his town. The Long Halloween also retells the origin of Two-Face.
The Long Halloween is dark and gritty in a tone of which there is hope but it's a long shot. It's also a murder mystery, the clues are there but everyone misses them.