It seems like phenomenal duo Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale had a clear mission for Batman: The Long Halloween. It feels like they revisited the material of Frank Miller’s Year One and wanted to pick up and elaborate on the gangster theme. In a way they continued their re-portrayal of the winged crusader as a superclass detective, as they had begun in Batman: Haunted Knight. But they went beyond these 3 previously published Halloween stories. Would this 13-chapter tale then best be known as Year Two (the only true successor to Miller’s subliminal work)? Well, nevermind. The questions is irrelevant as this work has more than enough quality to offer by itself.
I made a promise – to my parents – that I would – rid the city – of the evil – that took their lives.
There’s a killer out on the Gotham streets. Nothing new so far. Seems to have a murderous appetite to kill on holidays. Likes a riddle. Harvey Dent, district attorney, vigilantly and relentlessly chases the bad guys from the good side of the law. It takes a while for him to accept the big bat as a companion. But together with commissioner Gordon they create a bond to hunt down the head of Gotham’s main gangster family, Carmine Falcone (“The Roman”). A war commences.
Frustration grows with some defenders of the law. The Maroni family gets involved. Things get out of hand as all villains seem to be getting out of Arkham Asylum. In the meantime Bruce Wayne/Batman gets to deal with more than violence with Selina Kyle/Catwoman. He finds himself victim to a strange and dark attraction. The death of Alberto Falcone, The Roman’s son, causes his gigantic aunt to go nuts. And it leaves some questions on whether the poor son was consciously left out of daddy’s imperium. And what links the late doctor Wayne to The Roman?
It all fits together in this tremendous and superb tale of murder and mystery. Giving birth to the notorious Two-Face. Two sides to the end. All’s well. Ambiguous yet. Who’s Holiday? How many are Holiday? Luckily at least Gilda still believes in Harvey Dent.
Batman: The Long Halloween was clearly a major source of inspiration for the first new generation Batman movie Batman Begins.
My fascination for the Batman started ages ago. Over these years I’ve always carefully considered authors and works. To my great satisfaction.
My most recently consumed work is Batman: Haunted Knight, by the great Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, magically supervised by (the late) Archie Goodwin.
3 Halloween tales of the Dark Knight:
In Fears (1) Scarecrow tries to exploit the fears of the caped crusader (a huge flock of… crows?) getting the bat to be vulnerable… a little anyway. In Madness (2) the Batman avenges the damage to his childhood memories by the Mad Hatter. The Ghosts (3) of foes and his past (Year One!) appear after an encounter with Penguin (and bad shrimps?) to make our tired warrior -fascinatingly- show a softer side.
I got to know (and appreciate) Loeb with the 2-part Hush story, and the follow-up to this Haunted Knight, The Long Halloween.
What makes Loeb so good is not that he tries to re-invent the Batman. He rather uses Frank Miller’s re-inventions but combines it with a ‘back to the roots’ angle of superclass detective. As such he portrays the Batman with his classical opponents in superior and exciting tales of (murder) mystery.
How watching Watchmen might turn into a depressing experience:
1. Either you’ve read the extraordinary comic and you won’t recognize it.
Gone are: a carefully revealing puzzle, everyday hero backgrounds, their naive intentions, the retro-graphics, the suggestion of violence.
Enter: explicit atrocity, underportrayed characters, übershiny costumes and graphics. Luckily the end scenes preserve the philosophical core of the book and (just partly) save some of the movie.
2. Either you haven’t read the extraordinary comic and you have doubts.
You wonder: what is this movie about? What connects all pieces?
One advise: read the book. Reconsider this obnoxious movie afterwards.
By the way, it is NOT impossible to make a good movie from an Alan Moore product. Check out V for Vendetta (soundtrack by David J). And while From Hell may have been mediocre, Watchmen is really disappointing.
I certainly haven’t (yet). Because I first wanted to read the Watchmen book. As I (luckily) also did with From Hell and V for Vendetta.
As usually with Alan Moore it took me some time to get through it. Because of the figuring personas, their psychology and backgrounds, a complete society sketched and, not to be underestimated, the plot. Moore’s works are truly ‘Graphic Novels’, balancing images and narration (both of high quality). Guess why it took 4 years.
As usually with Alan Moore it was worthwhile. Certainly for Watchmen. In a historically twisted world, numerous layered tales are served, that eventually all interact and interconnect (with the Pirates’ book-in-the-book and its writer’s role as supreme example). The written intersections in the book (of varying ‘written’ nature) required my patience but added perspective. All to present a hyperoriginal perspective on superheroes, also behind the scene (how common), the early amateurism and marketing attempts of the masked avengers, their objectives, motives and ethics, the fact that they get old and… retire. No wonder that The Minutemen weren’t meant to last.
Alan Moore is without any doubt one of the greatest graphic novelists of our times. He gave us a complete hypothesis on the identity of Jack The Ripper and the motives and instructor for his outrageous killings, in an historical London with all its (dark) facets, in From Hell. Mediocre movie if you know the book. He told about this fascinating superhero-like character fighting a fascistoid authority in the truly haunting V for Vendetta (brrr, the scaring philosophy -liberating?- behind the torture scenes…). The movie was good, respecting main roles, colours and story of the book. He has not just written another Batman story with The Killing Joke, it soon became a well adapted standard for the becoming of Batman’s biggest opponent, The Joker. But Watchmen is the best I’ve read to date of Alan Moore. It really stands out with all its magnificent complexity. Sorry to say that The Ballad Of Halo Jones was just good, entertaining above all. Others would kill to be able to write it, I guess.
Now I will sit and wait. To watch the Watchmen on DVD (director’s cut).
In Legoland (returning from Italy) I completed my Lego Batcollection with the Battank (vs. Riddler & Bane) and the Batcopter (vs. Scarecrow). I already had the Batcave (with Robin & Alfred, vs. Penguin & mr. Freeze), the Batwing (vs. Joker), the Batboat (vs. Killercroc) and the Batmobile (vs. Two-face).
As Catwoman (Batman dragster) wasn’t available (I’m trying to get to her, and the Arkham Asylum, in the US) I’ve bought her as a keyring.
And now a whole new Lego series from the new Batman movies is available (explains the Harley Quinn keyring)… can’t wait to get it!
Brings up mixed feelings: should I feel fine that Tim Burton’s great creations were ruined? As I really love the realistic feel of the new movies, even more inspired by Frank Miller‘s incredible Battales. Great scripts, atmosphere and acting.
Without having seen the new movie, Ledger’s pose (movie posters) seems inspired by Brandon Lee’s The Crow.
And do check out the Lego movies: