Comic Book: The Long Halloween
The Long Halloween
is a Batman
mini-series that ran from 1996 to 1997, produced by the creative team of Jeph Loeb
and Tim Sale. The mini-series came out of the duo's semi-regular yearly Batman Halloween Specials that they did for DC Comics.
The series, which is a pseudo-sequel to Batman: Year One
, involves a number of intertwining plotlines. To begin with, a serial killer is targeting members of Gotham's crime families. Due to the killer striking once a month, each time on some holiday, and leaving a holiday-related trinket as a Calling Card
, the press quickly dubs them "Holiday" (the title refers to the first murder, which was on Halloween).
For Carmine "The Roman" Falcone, the head of Gotham's largest remaining crime family, Holiday is just the latest in a long series of problems. The Batman has been a thorn in his side and Catwoman
has been robbing him (prompting Falcone to put a bounty on both their heads), District Attorney Harvey Dent is crusading to shut him down, and he's facing competition both from other mobsters and from a new breed of criminals—the costumed supervillains.
Batman, Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Dent meet on Halloween to discuss an alliance to bring down Falcone. They promise to "bend the law but not break it", but as the stakes grow higher, they begin to distrust each other. Batman suspects that Harvey Dent is Holiday, and Dent becomes convinced that Bruce Wayne is secretly allied with the Falcone family. It doesn't help Bruce's case that Falcone is pressuring Wayne Industries into joining his money-laundering scheme.
Eventually, the Mob resorts to trying to catch Holiday by hiring supervillains. And Hilarity Ensues
Everything leads up to two events: First, the acid being tossed onto Harvey Dent's pretty little face, leading to his transformation into the villainous Two-Face. Second, the downfall of Falcone's criminal empire.
The mini-series was extremely popular, in large part because it came out at the time that DC was overtly whoring out the main Batman books with crossover after crossover, meaning that fans were happy to have a compelling and well-written Batman book to read that didn't require them to buy four books and spin-off books to understand. It had a great deal of impact on later Batman books, most notably its exploration of the idea of the crime-fighting alliance between Harvey Dentnote
, Batman, and Commissioner Gordon, as well as the subtext of the conflict between traditional organized crime and the up-and-coming supervillains. This was also a major influence on Nolan's Batman
films: The Dark Knight
copies the alliance between Batman, Gordon, and Dent straight from here, and homages this series in a number of other scenes—even the slogan "I believe in Harvey Dent" came from here.
Spawned two sequels, the less critically acclaimed (but still considered excellent) Dark Victory,
and was concluded in Catwoman: When in Rome
This limited series contains examples of:
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Solomon Grundy's "hideout".
- Alcohol Hic: The Riddler
- Ambiguous Ending: Alberto is identified as Holiday and is arrested and convicted for his crimes, but the last few pages seem to imply that Gilda or Harvey could've been the killer all along. Dark Victory does little to dispel the ambiguity—most characters, given what they witness in the story, believe the first option is true, but several characters wonder about Gilda's sudden vanishment into the ether, and dialogue from Calendar Man interrupted by Two-Face implies that the actual culprit wasn't Alberto.
- April Fools' Plot: The seventh chapter, in which Holiday commits a fake-out non-killing against The Riddler.
- Asshole Victim: "Two shots to the head. If you ask me, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy".
- Back for the Dead: Used somewhat in The Long Halloween - Most of the mobsters from Year One return with the ultimate purpose of being killed, although it's not a straight example due to them being alive for most of the story] Dark Victory contains far more egregious examples - Various cop characters from Year One - anyone who was named, and including characters who had retired such as Loeb - return briefly to serve as victims of the Hang Man.
- Bald of Evil: Calendar Man.
- Bedsheet Ladder: Well, straw rope ladder if you want to get technical.
- The Big Girl: A villanous example, Sofia Falcone Gigante, the Roman's daughter.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Carmine Falcone and Holiday.
- Bittersweet Ending: Organized crime in Gotham is in ruins, but through little effectual effort on the part of the heroes. In the process, Dent's life and reputation were completely destroyed.
- Bottomless Magazines: Did you know that, when one is firing a .22 in such a way as to leave a bullet outline around the Riddler, you can fire about fifty or sixty bullets without giving the Riddler a chance to run away?
- Bullet Proof Vest: Batman employs one at one point, though not as part of his standard attire.
- Butt Monkey: The Riddler, which carries over to Dark Victory as well.
- By-the-Book Cop: Gordon will tolerate Bats and Harvey bending the laws, but not breaking them.
- Calling Card: Holiday leaves one at the site of each of the killings. A jack-o-lantern for Halloween, a cornucopia for Thanksgiving, etc.
- Clueless Mystery: One of the criticisms levelled against the story is that it seems like a Fair Play Mystery at first, but isn't.
- Consulting a Convicted Killer: Batman visits Calendar Man in his cell at Arkham Asylum to ask him where he might find the killer known as "Holiday". Calendar Man suggests that, the day Batman is paying this visit being a holiday, Holiday is likely looking to commit a murder.
- Dating Catwoman
- Deliberately Monochrome: Whenever Holiday is on the prowl.
- Disney Villain Death: Sofia, the moment she sees Harvey Dent, now Two-Face, just having killed Carmine Falcone, goes berserk and wants to kill him, but Catwoman tries to stop her. During their struggle, Sofia slips and falls down from the skyscraper to her death. Catwoman even tried to save her. We don't see Sofia's corpse after that, but the result was quite obvious.
- End of an Age: In many ways, the story chronicles the transformation of Gotham City from a town controlled by traditional criminals like the Mafia into a city overrun by the "freaks" that make up Batman's rogue's galley. The weakening of the Falcone empire due to Holiday allows characters like Two-Face, the Joker, Scarecrow and others to fill the power vacuum.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Johnny Vitti and his mother, Carla. A gender-reversed version is also present in Sofia and Carmine Falcone.
- Evil Matriarch: Carla Vitti, Falcone's sister and Mob Boss.
- Face-Heel Turn: One of the main subplots is Harvey Dent's transformation into Two-Face.
- Femme Fatale: Catwoman, naturally.
- Film Noir
- Flanderization: The Riddler, somewhat. Yes, riddles are his thing, but he doesn't speak entirely in them. He can actually hold a normal conversation.
- Fallen Hero: DA Harvey Dent becomes the villainous Two-Face.
- Gayngster: Possibly Alberto. Falcone is always advising his effete son to go "chase girls", but Alberto is markedly disinterested in anything but business.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: Gordon and Batman take on the respective roles when interrogating Mickey Sullivan.
- The Grinch: The Joker
- Hand Cannon: The Joker threatens Maroni with one in the Christmas chapter.
- Mad hatter is also seen one with in the climax.
- Subverted by Holiday's .22. The .22 is the peashooter of rounds, but in very capable hands it brought a city to its knees. To quote Clapton, "It's in the way you use it".
- Hero of Another Story: Catwoman's entire motive is not revealed and is not resolved until Dark Victory.
- Hollywood Silencer: A baby's bottle nipple serves as a one-shot silencer for a .22 pistol.
- Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Holiday strikes on Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Independence Day, a birthday, then Halloween again, notably not killing the Riddler (deliberately) on April Fool's Day.
- How the Character Stole Christmas: The Joker
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each issue corresponds with a month, and is named for a holiday that falls in that month. The only exceptions are the first and last (each correspond with October, with the Holiday killings each falling on Halloween) which are named "Crime" and "Punishment".
- August is also a slight aversion: the "holiday" is the Roman's birthday, and the chapter is appropriately titled "Roman Holiday".
- Ironic Echo:
- "I believe in Harvey Dent".
- "Two shots to the head. If you ask me, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy."
- Ironic Nursery Tune: Practically all of Scarecrow's lines are nursery rhymes. Also "Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday." The Mad Hatter also only talks in lines from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
- Knife Outline: April Fool's. Riddler. Bullet outline.
- Lampshade Hanging: Jim Gordon implies to Batman that the Rogues have appeared because he is in Gotham now.
- Love Makes You Evil: Gilda Dent, if her internal monologue is to be believed.
- The Mafia
- Mob War: Holiday's killings place the Falcone and Maroni crime families at each other's throats. In Harvey's words: "They all want to do our job for us".
- Money to Burn: Ever wonder where The Dark Knight got the inspiration for that scene?
- Monster Clown: Joker, Joker, Joker.
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Joker, Joker, Joker.
- Mythology Gag: Dent's dialogue is littered with references to the number two.
- Nice Hat: Mad Hatter & Scarecrow (the former's hat is about three feet tall).
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Batman goes batshit when he finally gets his hands on Holiday, breaking both of the killer's arms.
- No Longer with Us: No, the Almost Dead Guy meant Dent escaped the operating chamber, not that he died.
- Noodle Incident: The last time anyone sees Poison Ivy at the end of the St. Patrick's Day chapter she's receiving payment from Falcone and is never seen again until the final one, where she's being broken out of Arkham. Presumably Batman caught her and sent her there sometime in between, though how he did so is left to any reader's guess.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: Maroni offers to testify against Falcone, an offer that Harvey, being District Attorney and all, jumps at.
- Falcone uses strongarm tactics to get the bank's board members on his side. His bodyguard Milos even offers to "convince" Bruce Wayne, but Falcone employs a much more subtle tactic against Gotham's favorite son.
- Orgy of Evidence: The Holiday serial killer leaves behind a holiday-themed item at each killing, making it look like there's a pattern. It turns out that Gilda, the original Holiday, knew to plant such evidence to trick the police.
- Pet the Dog: Batman giving Solomon Grundy (this is BEFORE Grundy became a super-villain again) a Thanksgiving dinner.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Organized crime has been almost completely neutralized, only to be replaced by the arguably worse supervillain element. Gotham's DA was a casualty of the conflict.
- Rats In A Box: The interrogation of the Irish Gang.
- The Resenter: Harvey.
- The Reveal
- A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma:
The Riddler: It's a mystery. Broken into a jigsaw puzzle. Wrapped in a conundrum. Hidden in a Chinese box. A riddle.
- Rogues Gallery Showcase
- Room Full of Crazy: Calendar Man's cell is covered with calendar pages and news clippings of Holiday's crimes.
- Run the Gauntlet: Much like Jeph Loeb's other Bat-books, this one practically parades all of Batman's major rogues. God bless him for it.
- Scary Shiny Glasses: Alberto.
- Self-Made Orphan: Jonathan Crane (the future Scarecrow) killed his mom. On Mother's Day.
- Serial Killer
- Smoking Is Cool
- Smug Snake: Calendar Man. He really has fun jerking Batman around.
- Spinoff: As noted in the introduction, The Long Halloween came about in part due to Loeb and Sale's work on the Batman Halloween Specials from 1993-1995.
- Superhero Paradox: Lampshaded. Gordon points out that the number of inmates at Arkham Asylum has doubled since Batman started operating, and wonders if there's a connection.
- Title Drop: Falcone angrily tells Batman that the mob have been calling the Holiday incident the "Long Halloween"—a night of macabre horror that started last Halloween, with no end in sight.
- Took a Level in Badass: The Calendar Man. This is the story that gave this guy any credibility towards his status as a villain. Unfortunately, this was rarely followed up on again until Batman: Arkham City.
- The Vamp: Poison Ivy.
- Wacky Wayside Tribe: The Joker's attempt to spread his poison into Gotham Square on New Year's Eve has remarkably little to do with the overall plot besides giving Batman something to do. Rule of Cool excuses it, though.
- Was It Really Worth It?: At the end of The Long Halloween, in light of of Harvey Dent's transformation into Two-Face and his subsequent killing of Carmine Falcone, Batman and Jim Gordon have this moment.
Gordon: If you're asking me "Did the good guys win?" Yes, the good guys won, Batman. But, I won't know if it was worth it for a very long time...
- Weapon of Choice: Holiday's .22 pistol.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Alberto just wants to impress his father, but Falcone wants to keep Alberto out of the family business. Sofia too, as seen in "Father's Day".
- What Happened to the Mouse?:: According to Loeb, this is how Editor Archie Goodwin roped him and Tim Sale into what would become The Long Halloween. During breakfast at the San Diego Comic-Con in the mid-1990's, he wondered aloud whatever happened to Carmine Falcone and the mobsters from Year One. Once they'd confirmed Miller wasn't going to use them again, the rest is history.