RETRO REVIEW: The Long Halloween

WRITER: Jeph Loeb
ARTIST(s): Tim Sale
LETTERER: Comicraft
COLORIST: Gregory Wright
COVER ARTIST(s): Tim Sale
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
RELEASE DATE: 1996-1997

Often heralded as one of the defining Batman stories of the Modern Age (along with other classics such as The Dark Knight ReturnsA Death in the Family, and The Killing Joke), The Long Halloween is a must-have on any recommended reading list for the Dark Knight.

Taking place over the course of a year, from one Halloween to the next, this story tells the narrative of the Holiday killer, a masked murderer who kills some of Gotham’s most notorious mobsters, as well as certain corrupt officials. It also provides an updated version of Harvey Dent’s transformation into the villain Two-Face.

Jeph Loeb writes a great Batman. I first remarked this when I read Hush, and this was only exemplified by my reading of his Superman/Batman run and his works with Tim Sale. Our Dark Knight is truly that, brooding and controlled at all times, admittedly not the most stable man alive, but all-around a total badass, even in his earlier years (this story takes place not too long after Frank Miller’s hit Year One miniseries). I love the weaving of the Mafia and the Rogues Gallery, and how I feel like I’m watching The Godfather Meets The Injustice League at times.

I’m not as in love with Tim Sale’s art as many others seem to be. While I can definitely praise Loeb’s storytelling ability, Sale’s style just isn’t for me. It’s fuzzy-looking at times, and has a weird shading that makes it look like every character is off. I do like the cinematic look it portrays, however, and I can see why this was used as an inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. It’s very fitting.

All in all, this story is a classic. The art may fall flat sometimes for me, but Loeb’s story and dialogue makes this a must-read for any comic book (and especially, Batman) fan.

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