Comic Book / The Long Halloween

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"I believe in Jim Gordon. I believe in Harvey Dent. I believe in Gotham City."

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, Captain Jim 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 Jim 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".
  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: The way the Mad Hatter's speech bubbles are written suggests this.
    Mad Hatter: woUld yOu likE Some moRe teA?
  • Adaptation Expansion / Older Than They Think: Many aspects of Harvey Dent's character arc, including an early alliance with Batman and his Parental Abuse, right down to the disguise Batman wears in the fateful courtroom where he got scarred, were taken from Batman Annual 14 about five or six years earlier.
  • Alcohol Hic: The Riddler is pretty drunk when Batman tracks him down and interrogates him in a bar.
  • 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.
  • Arc Words: "I believe in [Gotham City/Harvey Dent/Batman]"
  • 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.
  • 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 is the chief of organized crime in Gotham, and Holiday is murdering key members of his outfit, so Batman, Gordon, and Dent are trying to put a stop to both of their activities.
  • 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. Worse still, this is essentially essentially the beginning of the rise of Batman's more colorful Rogue's Gallery to plague Gotham.
  • 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: Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle have a romantic relationship, but at this point in Batman's career, neither know about the other's secret identity; their Batman and Catwoman personas have a bit of Belligerent Sexual Tension.
  • 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. Subverted in Dark Victory when she turns up still alive but paraplegic.
  • 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 her father Carmine Falcone.
    • Inverted with Carmine and Alberto. Carmine is a very, very bad man, who dearly loves his innocent son Alberto. Then averted when it turns out Alberto might be far worse a monster than his father, who he's not very fond of.
  • Evil Matriarch: Carla Vitti, Falcone's sister and Mob Boss.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: The comic heavily implies that Batman's deconstruction and elimination of "normal" organized crime like mob-bosses and the rise of the insane, colorful, and unpredictable super-villains isn't a coincidence. As Falcone's control over the city weakens, freaks like Scarecrow and Joker become more and more common.
  • Expy:
  • Face–Heel Turn: One of the main subplots is Harvey Dent's transformation into Two-Face.
  • Fade Around the Eyes: Features a sequence like this when crime boss Carmine Falcone sends his goons out after Batman and Catwoman. In one panel, the room is lit up. In the next, Falcone's face is half-shadowed. In the last, everything is black except for one of his eyes, and his scars.
  • False Confession: The Sullivan Gang admit to blowing up Dent's house. They'll even put it in writing for ya'. Subverted in the fact that they really did blow up his house but they're clearly covering for their employer, the Roman.
  • Femme Fatale: Catwoman, naturally.
  • Film Noir: Dark art and tone, presence of the Mafia, and a murder mystery plot give the book this feel.
  • Flanderization: The Riddler, as usual for a Jeph Loeb book. Yes, riddles are his thing, but he doesn't speak entirely in them, he can actually hold a normal conversation. And while he's hardly liable to get in a fight, he's not usually portrayed as quite so feeble as when Loeb writes him. Likewise, Mad Hatter usually can say things other than lines from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
  • 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. It's played as Alberto wanting to be taken seriously by his father but fans (and the creators of The Joker Blogs) have had their own theories.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Gordon and Batman take on the respective roles when interrogating Mickey Sullivan.
  • 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 pulls this act and even quotes from How the Grinch Stole Christmas! as he steals a tree and presents from a family, and again later when he shows up in Harvey's home to threaten him.
  • 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. And, of course, Joker quotes How the Grinch Stole Christmas as he invades Harvey Dent's new house.
  • 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: Falcone's outfit is a part of it.
  • 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.
  • Not So Harmless: Regardless of your thoughts on who Holiday really was, effeminate weakling Alberto manages to sneak into Gotham County Jail and murder Sal Maroni in cold blood. He would have got Gordon too if not for a disguised Batman.
  • 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 couple different ones that make for an Ambiguous Ending. Initially it's revealed that Alberto Falcone, previously believed to be another victim of Holiday, is actually Holiday himself, and he claims responsibility for all of the murders. However, when Dent is arrested he says that there were two Holidays, and while Batman assumes this refers to Dent killing Falcone on Halloween, Dent's wife Gilda claims in the final pages that she started the Holiday killings, but that she suspects Dent might have been responsible for some of them, particularly the "killing" of Alberto. Ultimately, which killings were done by which individuals is completely up in the air.
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: When Falcone brings in the Riddler in the hopes his perspective can shed some light on the mystery:
    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: Most of Batman's more famous villains manage to work their way briefly into the plot.
  • 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: Holiday, who kills on a holiday every month, leaving behind their gun and a small symbol of the holiday in question.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Many, especially to The Godfather.
    • The Joker breaks into a family's house on Christmas and steals their presents, while quoting lines from How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.
    • One of the minor hit-men working for Carmine has a Verbal Tic of saying everything twice, with the nickname "Two Times." A gangster with the same tic and nickname shows up in Goodfellas.
  • 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.
  • Start of Darkness: Story serves as one for Harvey Dent, whose devotion to take down The Roman slowly transforms him into Two-Face.
  • 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 Unreveal: Batman tries to figure out why Catwoman keeps showing up whenever he goes after Falcone, but it's never explained.
  • The Vamp: Poison Ivy uses her plants to seduce Bruce Wayne and gets him to get Wayne Enterprise to do dealings with Falcone's business on the latter's behalf.
  • Verbal Tic: Many of the villains do this Up to Eleven as if they can only speak in line with their personal gimmick. Riddler speaks entirely in riddles (which gets downplayed in the sequel), Mad Hatter only speaks in lines from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Scarecrow speaks only in nursery rhymes (for... some reason) and Solomon Grundy can only say "Solomon Grundy born on a Monday." Two-Face completing the rest of the poem seems to win Grundy to his cause.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: The Joker's attempt to spread his poison into Gotham Square on New Year's Eve is only tangentially related to the overall plot — Joker figures Holiday is "probably" in the crowd and is going to kill him for stealing away Joker's spot as most infamous supervillain in Gotham.
  • 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.
    Batman: The promise that we made to bring down the Roman. What it cost us. Harvey...
    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 custom .22 pistol, based off the Ruger Mk. II.
  • "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.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Carmine might say he loves his son more than anything in the world, but Alberto reveals this is a more accurate portrayal of their relationship. Carmine is overjoyed to see his son is alive again.... but when Alberto asks, he can't even recall his birthday.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ComicBook/TheLongHalloween