By Will Barber Taylor
This compelling look into The Dark Knight’s early career features some of the most deadly and cunning members of Batman’s rogues’ gallery and a dramatic retelling of the origin of the tragic Two Face.
The Long Halloween is one of Batman’s most well-known and well regarded graphic novels. It spans a full year and sees The Dark Knight hunt a mysterious holiday killer who strikes every holiday. The killer seems to be attacking various members of the Falcone family, the head of which, Carmine “The Roman” Falcone is someone who wants to take down Batman and the District Attorney Harvey Dent. This basis should result in a fantastic book which blends together the superhero comics and the noir films of the forties. However, The Long Halloween doesn’t “live up to the hype” as some people might say.
The problem with The Long Halloween is how it pans out. It starts off very well, showing off the duplicity of Carmine Falcone and the triumvirate of Batman, Gordon and Dent; However, it is not long before things begin to fall about. Batman, the world’s greatest detective bumbles through the story like Nigel Bruce from the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films. While this is set at the beginning of Batman’s career when he is still finding his feet as Gotham’s protector it comes off as ridiculous that someone who has spent years of training can be this incompetent. He flaps around continually asking people who the killer is, finally deduces who it might be (Dent) and then decides he doesn’t want to believe it because he “believes in Harvey Dent”.
Something which in The Dark Knight film worked; Dent was a fairly nice guy, here however he is a half mad, narcissistic ass hole who throughout the story contemplates murder, robbery and several other crimes. The problem with this version of Dent is that though it is trying to show Dent as a flawed human being who is trying to do good, it instead makes him come across as a complete jerk. The “tragic” part of Two Face is that he is a generally nice guy who is turned bad by tragedy. It is meant to show that in the right circumstances anyone can be driven to doing things that they would under normal circumstances hate to even contemplate. Loeb’s hard handed approach to the character wrecks any hope of him making Dent a fallen angel instead he makes him seem like Lucifer’s son.
The final and most critical problem with the story is the messy ending. The great mystery that is the main point of the plot is given a confusing, problematic ending which doesn’t really explain who the actual killer was.
All in all, The Long Halloween has some good bits, mainly towards the beginning, but it also has a lot of bad bits and eventually the bad outweighs the good.