Who was the first victim of the Holiday Killer in Long Halloween?
In his 10/25/50/75 year comic book review, CSBG looks back at the 25th anniversary of the start of Batman: The Long Halloween
Today we watch the launch of the classic by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale Batman: Along Halloween, 25 years ago this month.
This is “Look Back”, where every four weeks of a month, I will highlight a single issue of a comic book that has appeared in the past and talk about this problem (often on a larger scale, like the series as a whole, etc.). Each spotlight will be a look at a comic book from a different year that was released in the same month X years ago. The first spotlight of the month takes a look at a book released this month ten years ago. The second spotlight looks at a book that appeared this month 25 years ago. The third spotlight looks at a book that appeared this month 50 years ago. The fourth spotlight looks at a book that appeared this month 75 years ago. The occasional fifth week (we’re looking at weeks in a broad sense, so if a month has five Sundays or five Saturdays, that counts as a fifth week) looks at books from 20/30/40/60/70/80 years.
Today, heading to October 1996 for the first issue of Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale, Gregory Wright and Richard Starkings.
He sometimes gets lost in WHAT business Batman: The Long Halloween was, but it was actually the FOURTH Batman Halloween project that Loeb and Sale had worked on for DC. As you may or may not know, before Loeb started writing comics in addition to all of his TV work, Loeb was a successful screenwriter, writing the blockbuster movies. Teen wolf and Commando. An old friend of Loeb’s since childhood of Loeb, the editor-in-chief of DC Elliot S! Maggin (who had actually used an idea that young Loeb had given him for a story very early in Maggin’s career, when Maggin was still a student and had met Loeb through Loeb’s stepfather, who was vice -president at Brandeis University) was Loeb’s first editor in DC (after DC editor Jenette Kahn asked Loeb if he was interested in writing comics for DC after a Flash movie Loeb was writing collapsed). This first mission was a The challengers of the unknown maxiseries in 1991 drawn by an artist named Tim Sale. The Loeb / Sale partnership is therefore THIRTY YEARS OLD.
Loeb and Sale went on to make a Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Special in 1993. It was such a success that they did two more in 1994 and 1995 before deciding to throw a gigantic final Halloween story for Halloween. 1996 rightly called Along Halloween.
The comic book is a compelling love letter to Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s “Batman: Year One” as well as film noir, period. The issue opens with a riff on Francis Ford Coppola’s classic opening The Godfather, only with Mafia boss Carmine Falcone in place of Vito Corleone, sporting the scars he received from Catwoman in this story from the first year …
While “Year One” is clearly the most notable inspiration for The Long Halloween, I especially liked how willing Loeb and Sale were to experiment with other influences, like the use of a modern Catwoman design that didn’t look at all like the way Catwoman was in “An One”, but much better. Sale’s vibrant artwork virtually rises off the page as Batman and Catwoman have a savage chase across the skies as Catwoman and Batman both show up at Falcone’s house to steal his safe (Batman for information who could shoot Falcone and Catwoman down for jewelry).
Loeb and Sale’s Catwoman is such a more dynamic character than “Year One ”’s Catwoman, as they’ve taken on other influences beyond Miller’s rather narrow portrayal of Selina Kyle. Loeb and Sale brought more electricity to the Golden Age Catwoman series.
One of the great things Loeb has done throughout this first issue is really to work on the power of repetition. The problem opens with Bruce Wayne explaining how he believes in Gotham City. He also notes that he believes in Harvey Dent and that he believes in Jim Gordon and the pairing between these three men is really powerful, because they all honestly believe that they are about to break something big here, in working together, not knowing that Gotham City was about to get much weirder …
And of course, we can’t talk about Long Halloween without talking about the introduction of the holiday-themed serial killer known as Holiday, the central mystery of this series. His first victim is Carmine Falcone’s nephew who is seen getting married at the start of the show …
Hell, Gregory Wright’s colors really made everything POP, didn’t they? This is truly one of the finest Batman comics ever and Loeb’s story luckily gives the whole thing more meat than just “Wow, look at this amazing piece of art” (not just that) would not have been enough on its own). The couple recently returned for a 25th anniversary reunion.
If you have any suggestions for November (or any subsequent months) 2011, 1996, 1971, and 1946 comics to highlight, drop me a line at [email protected]! Here is the guide, however, to the book cover dates so that you can make suggestions for which books actually came out in the correct month. Typically, the traditional time lag between a comic book cover date and a comic release date throughout most of comic book history has been two months (sometimes it was three months, but not during the times we are discussing here). So the comics will have a cover date two months before the actual release date (so October for a book released in August). Obviously, it’s easier to tell when a book from 10 years ago came out because there was internet coverage of the books back then.
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