Ricky Church reviews Batman: The Long Halloween Special…
It has been 25 years since the beginning of Batman: The Long Halloween from writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale. In the two-and-a-half decades that have followed, The Long Halloween has become an essential story for Batman fans to read and experience, one that has influenced other Batman stories as well as spawning a sequel, a semi-spin-off with Catwoman and a two-part animated adaptation. Now, to celebrate its 25th anniversary, Loeb and Sale return to the world with Batman: The Long Halloween Special with a new story that explores one of the lingering mysteries of their classic.
Taking place some time after Dark Victory, Batman is investigating a string of crimes from Julian Day/The Calendar Man leading up to Halloween. As the day approaches, Two-Face resurfaces as the case that fundamentally changed their lives and Gotham City’s future is slightly revisited.
Jeph Loeb instantly pulls you back into the world of The Long Halloween. It’s as if no time has passed at all as he captures the same characterizations of Batman, Gordon and Two-Face as he did in his his landmark Batman mystery while exploring the changes in other characters such as Calendar Man and Robin. Loeb’s writing is crisp and fits the noir genre well with Batman’s inner dialogue and an intriguing mystery surrounding Calendar Man’s motives. For a 48-page book it feels like there’s a lot more to the story and Loeb doesn’t miss a beat with his pacing and how he draws you in by utilizing every page to advance the story, dive into the character’s psyches and even offer a few comedic bits like Gordon telling Batman of Barbara’s request for Robin to go trick-or-treating with her.
Of course, Loeb’s script isn’t the only reason the story soars. Just as Loeb eases back into Gotham City, so to does Tim Sale with his artwork. Sale is fantastic as always, creating a dark atmosphere for Gotham with his distinct style and character designs. The first page Batman features in is so in tune with the Dark Knight as is the way Sale visualizes fight scenes and the impact of Batman’s punches. The issue also serves as a reminder as how his design of Two-Face is one of the most grotesque yet animated looks for the villain in comics. Joining Sale on art duties is colourist Brennan Wagner who perfectly conveys the film noir feel Loeb and Sale are going for and letterer Richard Starkings, whose letter designs is an understated aspect of the book with the unique ways Harvey and Two-Face are shown to have separate dialogue or the emotions of the whole cast are emphasized.
Batman: The Long Halloween Special is a very welcome return to one of the most groundbreaking and influential Batman stories of the modern era. It is great to see Loeb and Sale together again as they craft a very compelling tale set within their world while Wagner and Starkings elevate their work even more. Fans of The Long Halloween will not only enjoy this, but likely want more with the tantalizing possibility the team leaves at the end for further adventures.
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