Batman – The Long Halloween (Loeb and Sale)

  long halloween all covers

Batman: The Long Halloween is a thirteen issue story arc that is perhaps the most ambitious and best written story in the mythology of Batman. Any one who has read The Long Halloween cannot help but see the inspiration in the this tale that became in many ways, Christopher Nolan’s story of the Dark Knight. It begins with Bruce Wayne, standing in the drawing room of Carmine “The Roman” Falcone, leader of Gotham’s strongest crime family saying; “I believe in Gotham City.” Falcone is leaning on a dubious incident in the past that ties the Falcone family to Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father, to convince Bruce to allow  Gotham City Banks to do business with Falcone Imports. Bruce’s refusal sets in motion the drama that will throw Gotham into the grips of a serial killer and the emergence of Harvey Dent as a force for good in Gotham, and his eventual fall into the abyss where he becomes Two-Face.

Harvey Dent is a crusading District Attorney bent on proving that the Falcone family is not above the law and in his fervor, must come to grips with what he will do to bring justice to Gotham. A characterization that was used in the second Dark Knight movie. The interaction in the movie between Batman, Dent and Commissioner Gordon is taken almost verbatim from the Long Halloween. In the first meeting between Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent, Wayne states to Selina Kyle; “I believe in Harvey Dent.” To which Selina responds, “In this city, that’s saying something.”  Dent would pressure Gordon into setting up a meeting between himself and Batman and together the three of them create a pact on how they are going to bring down the Falcone family.

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But unknown to the three, someone else is hunting the Falcones. A new killer. Armed with a 22, silenced with a baby bottle nipple, this new killer begins on Halloween and kills Falcone’s nephew. On every holiday after that, he kills another of Falcone’s associates. On Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s; over the course of the next year, the bodies pile up as Batman, Dent and Gordon try to unravel the mystery and find the killer the press has dubbed; Holiday. In his zeal to prosecute Falcone, Dent arrests Bruce Wayne hoping to exploit his family’s prior relationship with the crime lord, only to understand that the relationship consisted of Thomas Wayne performing emergency surgery on Falcone. Months later Thomas and Martha Wayne would be gunned down on the streets of Gotham in front of their child, Bruce Wayne.

Carmine Falcone is not standing pat though as Dent, Gordon and Batman are going after him. Or with the murders by Holiday scaring his crew. The character of Carmine the Roman Falcone is depicted in a grandiose Godfather fashion. Several of the lines mirror statements by Vito and Michael Corleone. Carmine is a powerful man used to getting what he wants with no one having the courage to stand against him or his family. No one until the Batman. And now there is Dent. And now Holiday.  Falcone launches his counter attacks as well. With Poison Ivy, Joker, Scarecrow and others paid by him, or working together as their interests align, Falcone is determined to protect what is his. Until his final act, his attack on Harvey Dent.

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What makes this story so good is that it is a mystery. A series of murders committed by an unknown assailant not by any of the costumed villains that  fill the pages. Who is Holiday? What is his deal with the Falcones? Why is he killing them? The Long Halloween is also the story of the Falcone family, Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne and how their lives intersect with terrible and tragic results. Over the course of thirteen issues the story never wavers and never dulls. You will literally not see the ending coming. The writing is just that good.

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There are also underlying tales. The relationship building between Batman and Catwoman as much the same one is building between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. The Falcone children as they jockey against one another to gain power and the outside threat of Sal “The Boss” Maroni, waiting to take over. But in the end, it is not the killer Holiday who is the biggest threat, but the birth of the criminal known as Two Face. Harvey Dent. Two Face, who dispenses his justice by the barrel of a gun.

Batman: “Was it worth it?”

Gordon: “Hmmm…”

Batman: “The promise that we made to bring down the Roman. What is cost us. Harvey…”

Gordon: “If you’re asking me, did the good guys win? Yes the good guys won Batman. But I won’t know if it was worth it for a very long time…”

Ripples of the tale of The Long Halloween are to be felt for a long time in the mythos of The Batman. It would be the primary source material for the relationships between Batman, Harvey Dent and James Gordon. It would change how Batman was viewed for some time to come. Also it would raise the standard for what comics books could offer in the quality writing and artwork. Comic books, as least in the DC world, would once again have a real story to tell.

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