OCTOBERFEAST – The Long Halloween

long halloween

In case I haven’t told you, comic books are one of my favorite things in the world. Without exaggeration, I would argue that comics are just as artful as any other medium and provide a generally unrivaled integration of image and word. There is no experience quite like flipping through the pages of a good comic, becoming drawn in by paneled wonder and storytelling mastery.

With such a zealous appreciation, it only stands to reason that OCTOBERFEAST would include a serving of sequential art. I contemplated this decision for some time, trying to figure which funny-book would make the cut. At first, I though about including the Halloween-beatdown of Hollis Mason from Watchmen, but then realized that would be opening a can of worms with which I’m not quite ready to deal. Then, I considered submitting a review of the best/worst comic book Halloween costumes but that wasn’t really what I wanted to go for either.

And then it hit me. Hard. I felt like a fucking buffoon for not thinking of it right from the get-go:

The Long Halloween

One of the many collaborations between Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, The Long Halloween is a thirteen-issue miniseries that follows Gotham City’s Dark Knight for a full calendar year. Starting and finishing on Halloween, the series sees a mysterious killer known only as Holiday claiming his victims on…well, holidays. The defenders of Gotham do their best to prevent the monthly massacres, with mixed results. At conclusion of The Long Halloween, Batman (and the reader) comes to the realization that justice may not always manifest in easily recognizable forms.

It is Loeb’s storytelling that truly sets up The Long Halloween for success. This is Jeph Loeb in his prime — crafting a murder mystery that keeps the reader guessing until the very end (and even after). Taking place in the formative years of his crime fighting career, Loeb takes Bruce Wayne through the rigors of doling out cans of whoop-ass to Gotham’s underworld. With the help of Captain Gordon and District Attorney Dent, Batman combats a mob empire comprised of the Falcone, Viti, Maroni, Gazzo, Sullivan, and Skeevers families. It is a dense tale full of interconnection, but Loeb pulls it off.

Loeb’s written story is only surpassed by Tim Sale’s illustrative execution. With the main players of the Rogues Gallery at his disposal, Sale gets the opportunity to put his signature stamp on much of the Bat-Universe. While I typically equate Sale’s art with the aesthetics of cartoons/animation, I think his performance in The Long Halloween  steps into  more realistic territory. Looking back on it, I remember being particularly struck by the use of shadows and negative space. Before being the best part of the lackluster Heroes, Tim Sale routinely rocked comics — The Long Halloween is undeniable evidence.

Even if you’re too much of a dingbat to check out The Long Halloween, you have probably still enjoyed its main themes and plot. Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight both liberally borrow from The Long Halloween:

A young Bruce Wayne trying to get his footing as Batman? – Yup.

A mob war threatening to take over Gotham City? Yup.

James Gordon, a rare example of excellence in the GCPD, rising through the ranks?  -Yup.

“I believe in Harvey Dent”? — Yup.

Batman, Gordon and Harvey Dent working together…until a horrible accident disfigures Dent and changes the nature of the relationship? – You bet your ass.

The Long Halloween is a meaty text. But it’s a worthwhile one. As a limited series featuring only the most recognizable figures of the Batman mythos, The Long Halloween is accessible to even the most casual of fans.

For the sake of OCTOBERFEAST, and to make yourself a better human being, give it a read.

Just one of the many scenes from which "The Dark Knight" & "Batman Begins" took a cue.

Just one of the many scenes from which "The Dark Knight" & "Batman Begins" took a cue.