The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale is an unbelievably great graphic novel that continues the story that was started in Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s classic Batman: Year One. Set over a year’s time, focusing on holidays, big and little alike, this 370 page epic story is a great Batman adventure and murder mystery that incorporates a lot of familiar faces – Selina Kyle, Harvey Dent, the entire Falcone family, Joker, the Riddler, Poison Ivy, and more. Tim Sale’s artwork is wonderfully detailed and the use of vivid color as well as black, white and grey makes this work seem almost like an old movie in print form – classic and beautiful.
As the story begins, a wedding is being held, that of Carmine Falcone’s nephew, Johnny. All of the members of Gotham’s great society are there – including Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, who’ve been invited to the wedding, and District Attorney and hope for Gotham, Harvey Dent, who wasn’t. For now, the Falcone mob family is all Batman, Dent, and Lieutenant Jim Gordon are thinking about…but it won’t take long before another terrifying figure gets their attention.
The Holiday Killer is a brutal and unknown assailant. The murders always come on a holiday and Batman, Dent, and Gordon don’t even know if it’s a man or a woman behind the murders that just won’t stop. The first was Johnny, Carmine Falcone’s nephew, on Halloween, and he won’t be the last. Can Harvey, Batman, and Lieutenant Gordon work together to bring down a killer that will stop at nothing to make sure the holidays are days the whole city of Gotham won’t forget or will they turn on each other when their suspicions get the best of them?
Loeb and Sale make a great team, and their unbelievable talent as a duo is really showcased in this work. Loeb’s story shows a gritty and sad Gotham and with Sale’s artwork adding a film-noir type quality to the written word, all the characters come alive through a combination of their words and illustrated form. This book is full of murder and sadness, and Sale’s illustrations keep readers reminded of how dark and desperate the city is. Gotham is full of criminals, masked and unmasked, hiding in the shadows and running in the streets. As the bodies start to pile up, and more criminals are broken out of Arkham to terrorize the city, people are starting to wonder if these criminals are here in spite of or because of Batman, and he’s starting to wonder the same thing himself. As the Holiday Killer is stalking Gotham, Bruce, Harvey, and Jim are all going through their own inner crises that are exacerbated by the hopelessness they feel as the Holiday Killer keeps on killing. Unfortunately, there is no happy ending in Gotham, and the end will have readers wondering…who really was the Holiday Killer?