126 of 138 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2002
This ode to Frank Miller's "Year One", itself a noir take on Batman's early career, provides a note-perfect genre piece that should thrill anyone looking for a Batman whodunit. The story has Batman, early in his career, taking on the mob and a serial killer who strikes on holidays. The story is drum tight through thirteen issues (350+ pages), set from Halloween to Halloween, with a poetic pacing and use of graphic tension found only in top-notch graphic novels. Harvey Dent is heavily featured along with a young Jim Gordon. For Batman scholars, Dent's presence alone provides a backdrop of foreboding.
The usual rogue's gallery weaves through the book, including a jealous Joker, out to outdo the serial killer, a cornered, yet elegantly neurotic Riddler, and a wildly abstracted, sensual Poison Ivy, along with a little more mind-altering mayhem from the Scarecrow and Mad Hatter.
What I appreciated most about Jeph [sic!] Loeb's telling is that the criminals are reduced to their elemental symbols, where a gesture or a glance conveys as much as a panel of narrated text. The clues are perfect red herrings in the grand whodunit fashion. Fans of Batman know bad things are going to happen when a stranger passes a rose to a character who then pricks their finger on its thorns. Similarly, even a hardened Gotham detective shudders upon seeing a murder victim with a smile on his face. My only misgiving about this book is that if a reader wasn't acquainted with Batman and the usual Arkham cast, the subtletly of this telling will almost certainly be missed. On the other hand, this'll be a great place to start an education.
Tim Sale's art is compelling. Noir's a difficult effect to convey in comics, and it comes through beautifully in a shadowy, mostly gray and earth tone palette behind strong inking. This cool, muted ground provides the perfect foil against which to contrast the costumed villains, ratcheting up the tension another notch.
28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 1999
Long Halloween works on so many levels. I went into this book knowing how it was going to end and it still captivated me. It is both a murder mystery and a story of a fall from grace. The main plotline-the mystery of the identity of a serial killer who murders members of the Falcone and Maroni crime families every major holiday-almost takes a back seat to the tragic transformation of Harvey Dent, who starts out as Batman and Captain Gordon's partner and friend and becomes one of their greatest foes by the end of the story. This series ranks alongside the Killing Joke as an important piece of Batman continuity as well as examining Batman's relationship with his enemies. Loeb's writing is good minimalism, packing so much power into so little dialouge. Tim Sale's artwork is just beautiful. He is one of the most talented pencilers ever, and breaths new visual life to several Batman characters. The series is lenghty but it is also fast paced and can be read in a relatively short amount of time. The pacing of the artwork is near-perfect, save for the unsettling abundance of splash pages. This series also well balances Batman's foes between pyschologically and physically deformed supercriminals and regular human gansters. After reading this and the first issue of its follow-up Dark Victory, one can only wonder why team Long Halloween does not work on a regular Batman title.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 1999
The Long Halloween is one of my favorite additions to the Batman canon. It is an intriguing mystery that fleshes out the early years of the careers of Batman, Commissioner Gordon (here Captain Gordon), and District Attorney Harvey Dent. The story focuses on the efforts of these three men of justice to bring down the criminal empire of Carmine "The Roman" Falcone, a character who made his debut in Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. Over the year that the story spans, our heroes are being aided in this endeavor by a mysterious killer who murders a victim of the Falcone family around each of the major holidays. Also during this time, many of the members of Batman's rogues' gallery show up to make plays of their own. The writer/artist team of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale is one of the best currently working in the comics field. Loeb's writing comes closer to letting the reader into Batman's mind than most, but still keeps the distance that the character demands. The Falcone family is portrayed as a pretty stereotypical mafia family. If you are a fan of the Godfather films, you will find plenty of homages/thefts to those works here, right from the opening panel. But they serve the purpose of providing fodder for the holiday killer. It's what Loeb does with Harvey Dent that makes this book. Two-Face, for me, was always an interesting idea for a villain, but always came across, oddly enough, rather one-dimensionally. By having a story that is set before Dent's transformation, Loeb is not constrained by the "Number 2" modus operandi the character is inevitably saddled with. Dent here is more like the Han Solo character. Cocky and unintimidated by anyone, he's so much more fun to read here it almost makes me wish we could throw continuity out the door and pretend he never got that acid thrown in his face. What Alan Moore did for the Joker in The Killing Joke, Jeph Loeb does for Two-Face here. One more thing about the writing: Loeb knows when to write and when to let Tim Sale's beautiful artwork tell the story. So sometimes there are several pages with little or no words. The murders, for example, are all presented in complete silence, which is just as it should be. As for the art, Tim Sale provides some of the best representations of the Batman characters I've ever seen. His work is slightly stylistic on the "normal" characters, and wildly exaggerated on the "supervillains", but without making the characters look like they belong in separate books. Sale's Batman is the definitive one for me, and his version of the Joker second only to Brian Bolland's. Added to this is his expert use of shading and page layouts that look like scenes from movies. Absolutely top-notch stuff. If you only buy comics for the pictures, this book is still worth the money. But I'd recommend reading it too.
29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2000
People always ask themselves the question what is it about the Dark Knight that makes him one of the most enduring and popular characters of our time? This wonderfully scripted trade paperback edition of the Long Halloween points to the answer. The book delves deeply into the criminal elemant of Gotham and bring out the best of Batman, who you see very little of when it come to the action scenes, but a lot of in scenes depicting conversation. The mood is very dark in this comic and reminisces the first Batman movie by Tim Burton. Batman sticks to the shadows and you just can't help but feel intimidated when he slowly walks out. The element of fear has always been the Bat's strongest features and this book really shines through when it comes to that. The coloring by Gregory Wright suits the mood so well that yopu feel as if you're that third person looking at things from behind a lens. Tim Sale is without a doubt one of the most promising talents out there. His soft, smooth approach to the characters makes better than the detailed, cartoony features that have become the norm in this day and age. Jeph Loeb scripts one of his best stories in there and you can interact with the characters and understant their expectations and wants. The story is suspenseful, thrilling with action in just the right places. Loeb brings out half of Batman's rogue gallery and portrays them right without them overstaying their welcome through and through.
If you're a fan of Batman, his first movie and the Godfather all put into one, you'll never put this book down (I read it continuously without a break). If you're just a Batman fan, then You'll be seeing the character written at his best.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Batman: The Long Halloween is a story set in the early years of Batman's history. The writer apparently sets out to do three things in this story. First, it depicts the transition of Gotham from a city where the mob ran rampant to one where a rogues gallery of homicidal maniacs and super-villains have pushed the old criminals out. Second, it shows different visions of justice in the guises of Batman, Harvey Dent, and Jim Gordon. Third, it presents a murder mystery which is supposed to be intriguing and a challenge to the World's Greatest Detective. Well, it accomplishes the first two and fails miserably with the last. Although some readers might think the ending is clever, in my view, it is not for the simple reason that the writer did not play fair with neither Batman nor the audience. No clues were given to point to the identity of the real killer, so neither Batman nor the reader has any chance at uncovering the villain's identity. Moreover, the writer breaks the cardinal rule of writing a murder mystery...if the killer has something to gain, the detective must find whatever that is to track the killer down. In this story, that was absent because by committing the murders, the killer actually pushed what that person wanted farther away from the killer. Finally, as for the detective himself, Batman basically phones in any attempt to engage in detective work in the story and really does nothing to try and solve the underlying crimes because of the distractions caused by his rogues gallery.
Now for the parts that were brilliant. The artwork was excellent, very noir and fit the story well. The story does a fantastic job of rounding out Dent's character and making him far more believable than other stories have shown in the past. Selina/Catwoman looked sexy and was an interesting character in the story (although the writer fails to explain why she was involved with the mobsters). As for the rogues gallery, some of the depictions were fantastic, such as the Scarecrow, Ivy, and the Mad Hatter. I did have problems with the drawings of the Joker...too many teeth and a bit too stylistic. Also, the depiction of Solomon Grundy was very lame. Grundy, at times, has given the entire JLA fits. Yet, a young Batman was able to give him a bloody nose with one punch? Very inconsistent. He wasn't that important to the story to screw up the character's capabilities like that.
So, this story starts with a bang but due to the dropped plotlines, the poor job of connecting the dots, and the muddled motive, it misses the target and fails in its bid to become a classic like Kingdom Come.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2001
The 80s were the times of the Bat. The revolution in the Batman comics, started in the mid-seventies by people like Dennis O'neil and Neal Adams, reached its peak in the eighties, with the works of such brilliant writers as Mike W. Barr, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and, obviously, Frank Miller. Tim Burton's Batman, possibly the finest comics-based feature film, was also made at that time. The nineties weren't as favorable to the Dark Knight. The artistic barrier was broken, and the spirit of revolution that characterized 80s comics drifted away. With Neil Gaiman and others of his kind becoming the main power in adult comics, Batman was, once again, mainstream. Although some good stories were published, none had the impact and inventiveness of Frank Miller's Batman.
Which is why I was very pleasently surprised to read the Long Halloween, a collected mini-series originally published in 1996, which is probably the finest Batman story released since Grant Morrison's masterpiece 'Arkham Asylum: Serious House on Serious Earth' in 1989. It was the first work I've ever read of either writer Jeph Loeb or artist Tim Sale. Loeb's dialogue is extremely powerful, flawless, reminding me of Frank Miller's writing on 'Dark Knight Returns' or 'Ronin'. Sale's wonderful artwork and brilliant use of close-ups, color and page compositions brought back memories of Dave Gibbons' work on 'Watchmen'.
The storyline was the best I've seen in years, recreating the story of Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face - in my mind, the most interesting of Batman's many enemies. It's a detective story, very different from the action-packed style of most 90s Batman, with the beautifuly created atmosphere of a film-noir. A family of gangsters and a serial killer are the actual 'villains' in the Long Halloween, but the main idea - the main conflict in the story - is the friendship of Batman, Harvey Dent and Comm. Gordon, and the old question of law and justice; some of Batman's more standart Arkham Asylum residing foes are brought in for short appearences, not stealing the show but giving this extremely long story some energy. Dent's personality is crafted brilliantly, as is the relationship between the three law enforcers, and the story of Dent's fall into crime is more tragic and touching than ever. The Long Halloween is one for the ages.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2002
Set early in Batman's career, The Long Halloween is a masterful tale.
The story is about a crime wave that hits Gotham. A killer (killers?) are shooting up members of Gotham's various crime families. Batman is on the case, working together with Gotham City Police Captain Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent to find out who the mysterious Holiday killer is. Dent is also having troubles at home, and he's being transformed. Batman fears that he's losing a friend. How right he may be. The story contains many of your favorite Batman villians, such as Joker, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, and many more. And, it tells the origin of Two-Face beautifully. The ending will leave you surprised. I read all of this in one sitting and could not bring myself to put it down. This story is continued in Batman: Dark Victory, also by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale are a match made in heaven. Loeb's gloomy style of storytelling fits in perfectly with Sale's artwork. Together, they weave a great tale of suspense for all Batman fans, and even fans of a good old murder mystery.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2006
I came back from a ten year Bat hiatus this time last year after reading an essay on the Dark Knight in my English 101 class. Back then Batman was apart of my daily afterschool TV diet: The character, the stories, the rogues gallery. He was an integral part of my childhood and now as I embark on a second chapter in my life I am thrilled to say that he is still there. After reading up on what was going on during DCs Infinite Crisis/One Year Later, I asked around for what the fans thought was the best, or at least a really good, Batman story. All the answered varied but I did notice a pattern and Long Halloween was one story I decided to risk and tackle.
Best $$$ I ever spent! An intricate tale of whodunit, a wonderful cast of characters and Tim Sale's art, all combine and come together in this work of art that is sure to make the reader have an appreciation for the Dark Knight and forever leave the idea that Batman is for kids/60s camp TV show. This is the Batman you take seriously! Jeph Loeb, a wonderful craftsman on the pen, keeps you guessing and even with all the explanations at the end leaves his audience thinking: "How did he do that?" He showed it here and he showed it in Dark Victory and Hush which I also highly recommend.
The story is about a mysterious murderer nicknamed Holiday who is suspected as being responsible for the murders linked to Carmine "The Roman" Falcone's organized crime and its strangling grip it holds on Gotham City, which we first meet in Frank Miller's Year One. Here we are also introduced to another integral character in Batman's mythos, DA Harvey Dent, whose forboding tendancies become more apparent and are a significant harbinger of things to come. Even I, as a hardcore Joker fanatic, place this a bit higher than Moore's Killing Joke but for now, let's save that for another matter. 13 chapters of suprises will leave you gasping for more as it was difficult for me to put this down the first time I bought it, and it took me three and a half to four hours.
Now some people will complain that Loeb's habit of using villains' for eye candy is excessive and albeit annoying. I would have to disagree. They are the perfect red herring and distraction for the Dark Knight. Joker becoming jealous and going into the crime lord's villa and challenging him was chilling, Ivy's feminine wiles to distract Bruce were well done and Scarecrow and Mad Hatter's Team up was a riot!
Tim Sale's art has been underhanded way too many times. I think he adds an interesting take on the characters and making them his own. I like how he made Selina look. She wasn't a blonde bimbo like how you would normally see her. The black long hair made her look sultry and a bit predatory, which fit like a glove with her characterization. Some people have complained the Joker looked a bit toothy here. Well apparently he did also in Hush. It just adds to his overall psychotic/predatory nature. Sale adds a sort of definition to the women instead of making them look all bulimic a la the Gotham Knights episodes. And for that Long Halloween gets my fifth point.
It's a great buy! If you like detective, film noir, Batman or a combo of all three, well, what are you waiting for!?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I'm new to comics. But I love Batman. I read a list on ign.com about the 25 best batman comics to read. My Dad has that awesome Year One/Dark Knight Returns/Batman Christmas (or whatever that middle one was). I read that whole thing in one sitting. I was amazed. The two best Batman comics in one day. So I have been working that list and I bought the Long Halloween. It is a really great story about Dent and how Two Face comes to be. The mystery is awesome, although I was kind of confused about the ending. Maybe when I re-read it before I get to Dark Victory it will become clear.
Like I said, I'm new to comics, so it was awesome to see the reference from the Dark Knight on the building with Batman, Gordon, and Dent. "He does that." I love it. I do have one small complaint. I read a review saying he wasn't impressed with the artwork, that the Joker looks stupid. I think the artwork is awesome, but I do agree that the Joker's teeth look crazy and not realistic at all. But it didn't prevent me from enjoying the story, so ultimately who cares. 5/5
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2004
This book was a real let down. My interest in this title was generated based on the great reviews The Long Halloween recieved (on Amazon and elswhere). When the comparrisons to Frank Miller's seminal work on Batman was made by some, I was sold. Oh my, was i ever shocked upon actually reading it. This is why I'm sending out a warning out to those expecting Miller calibur writing in this title: Don't! This doen't even come close. In fact, The Long Halloween is actually not very good at all.
Here's my main complaint: Incridebly contrived and poorly executed "mystery." One should not be left severely confused after the story and mystery is resolved, and as hard as I tied to figure it out, I was continually perplexed by The Long Halloween. I reread it two times trying to make some sense of it, but still the pieces didn't fit together. Well, at least in any manner that was not extremely convoluted, arbitrary, and well, unbelivable. The "twists" at the end just didn't add up. I attribute this to very poor characterization and pacing, and motivations and allegiences that are never clearly explained, even after the story's punchline. I really can't understand why some people would compare The Long Halloween to Frank Miller's work, it's totally overrated. Pretty art though, and at least the follow up, Dark Victory, was a bit of an improvement.