Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Leob – Comics Review [Bane of Kings]
Bane of Kings reviews the standalone graphic novel The Long Halloween, set in Gotham City and published by DC Comics. This graphic novel was written by Jeph Leob, Illustrated by Tim Sale and coloured by Gregory Wright, this is a Batman comic that you will not want to miss. The Long Halloween was first released as a collection on November 1 1999, and provides a huge inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight movie.
“An epic tale of tragic events, fantastic artwork and a great storyline makes The Long Halloween arguably the best Batman graphic novel that I’ve read so far.” ~The Founding Fields
I recently picked up both The Long Halloween and the first volume of Knightfall on Amazon, but it was The Long Halloween that I read first, chiefly because of the fact that The Dark Knight is my favourite movie, and I thought that I would love to see what Nolan drew his influences from. (Which is also the same reason why I picked up Knightfall at the same time, as this provides inspiration for The Dark Knight Rises – which is an awesome movie, by the way – if you haven’t seen it already.) The edition of The Long Halloween that I picked up even came with a short interview with Christopher Nolan at the front, and glowing endorsement from the director on the front. So, going into The Long Halloween, I had high anticipations. And, were they met?
The answer is definitely yes.
Taking place during Batman’s early days of crime fighting, this new edition of the classic mystery tells the story of a mysterious killer who murders his prey only on holidays. Working with District Attorney Harvey Dent and Lieutenant James Gordon, Batman races against the calendar as he tries to discover who Holiday is before he claims his next victim each month. A mystery that has the reader continually guessing the identity of the killer, this story also ties into the events that transform Harvey Dent into Batman’s deadly enemy, Two-Face.
This edition includes original 13-issue series as well as two additional story pages that appeared only in ABSOLUTE BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN.
There are several Batman graphic novels that are considered essential reading for fans of the caped crusader. They include Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, both by Frank Miller, Batman: Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison, The Killing Joke by Alan Moore, and last but not least, The Long Halloween by Jeph Leob. Out of those five graphic novels, I’ve read Year One and The Long Halloween. I’m working on my way to read the others. So far though, no matter how awesome Year One was, The Long Halloween is by far the best Batman tale that I’ve read so far, even though I’ve only read three.
“The Long Halloween is more than a comic book, it’s an epic tragedy.” These were the words stuck on the front of the cover of my edition of The Long Halloween, which is this one, and these words also happened to be said, or typed by Christopher Nolan, and they are the truth. Part noir detective/superhero graphic novel, part epic tragedy, The Long Halloween is not just the favourite Batman graphic novel that I’ve read so far, but one of my favourite graphic novels that I’ve read so far, with it probably being tied with Alan Moore’s awesome Watchmen. The artwork is great – I loved the portrayal of the noir-ish atmosphere of Gotham City. There was a particularly awesome scene where District Attorney Harvey Dent, the Batman and Gordon are on the rooftop of a skyscraper, and I felt that the scene was pulled off really well. In this graphic novel, Batman is still in the early days of his crime-fighting career, so he isn’t as experienced, and it was fun to discover the early days of Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego.
Although The Long Halloween may not be as serious as Year One, it still packs a lot of punches and is a whole lot of fun. You get a wide range of villains including the famous ones such as Joker, Poison Ivy and the Scarecrow, but also Leob manages to throw in Solomon Grundy for good measure as well, who I was first introduced to in Batman: Arkham City, and is an interesting, if a little outlandish, villain. However, whilst reading about Batman’s confrontations with the villains is good, the main stars of this novel are the Batman, Gordon and Harvey Dent. Pretty much everybody who’s heard of The Long Halloween will know before going into it, that this storyline shows the tragic journey from Dent to Two-Face, and Leob has really captured it here. Christopher Nolan couldn’t be more right.
In conclusion, The Long Halloween is a masterpiece that should not be missed by any Batman fan. Newcomers to the Batman comics who have already seen Nolan’s trilogy will have no problems starting here, but you may – like I did, want to start with Year One first.