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Why You Should Read: Batman the Long Halloween

One of the Dark Knight's greatest mysteries is also one of his absolute best reads.

Batman is many things to many people: ninja master, brutal vigilante, father figure, brilliant scientist, but one of his most neglected faces is that of detective. Plenty of writers have him solve a mystery, but he does it with the use of his Batcomputer (or whatever it’s called these days) rather than investigating crime scenes, examining motive, working alongside the police, and actually solving crimes rather than just punching criminals and letting a computer do the thinking for him. Jeph Loeb never forgets this and while one of his best-known forays into the Dark Knight has already been covered on this site, I want to highlight his take on Batman at his most Sherlockiest. Which is totally a word, I looked it up and everything.

Gotham truly does deserve a better class of villain.

Batman's side job as a coat checker didn't last

I bring up Hush as more than a shameless plug of a fellow Comic Vine writer, I also bring it up because it has a few direct parallels to the subject of this article: The Long Halloween is a 13 issue, self-contained series that takes place after, but is not directly tied to, Batman: Year One. Each issue takes place around a holiday of a different month, beginning with, of course, Halloween, with each holiday marked by a prominent murder (with the apropos exception of April 1st). Dubbed the Holiday Killer, the killer’s motives are difficult to ascertain, but their method is always the same: close-range execution with a low-caliber handgun (occasionally more than one gun is used). Batman is on the case alongside then-Captain James Gordon and a young, up and coming hotshot DA by the name of Harvey Dent, who eventually becomes a prime suspect for the murders. Catwoman also plays dual roles as a substantial supporting player, and on-again off-again love interest for Batman, while Selina Kyle gets cozy with Bruce Wayne.

Beyond being one of the main influences for The Dark Knight, the story is notable for filling out Two-Face’s origin as well as being a transitional period for Batman’s rogues, shifting from gangsters and mundane criminals to bizarre, costumed villains. This is also the first modern appearance of Calender Man, of all people. One of Batman's absolute goofiest, least menacing villains is given the all-star treatment as a kind of Hannibal Lecter character, a villain helping the police and Batman catch a criminal he feels is stealing his thunder (though he doesn't help them TOO much, of course). Tim Sale’s art strikes this balance with great subtlety, all the gangsters are drawn with relatively realistic features and proportions, while the “freaks” are drawn with bizarre, larger-than-life styles. Even Bruce and Selina are drawn relatively mundane, but when they slip into costume, suddenly they’re outrageous caricatures. At its heart, though, the story focuses on Batman as a crime-solver first and foremost and while there is plenty of action, it never gets in the way of a solid, brain-bending mystery.

Harvey Dent has a very, very bad day

It would’ve been enough to simply have the mystery and the various Arkham inmates, but the characters at the core of the story are just as compelling, often getting more attention than the strange denizens of Gotham. Harvey and Gilda Dent are trying to have a child, but Harvey’s attention is on his work, the Gordons are going through rough patches with Jim being away so much, and Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle just can’t seem to find five minutes to themselves. The way Loeb writes the characters in and out of costume (neither knows the others’ identity at this point) is one of the most fascinating things about the story, particularly when Poison Ivy is hired to get Bruce Wayne to sign off on a questionable deal involving the Falcone crime family and it’s up to Catwoman to get him seeing straight again. Selina knows she’s saving Bruce but has no idea she’s ALSO saving Batman and the fact that she cares for both men makes the scene all the more surreal.

Bruce Wayne also gets an usual amount of on-panel time, another strength of Loeb’s, as we see him tangle with the crime families, the Arkham inmates, and even the Gotham police force as he becomes a prime suspect. The issue that takes place in April where the key players, and the Riddler, run down the entire list of suspects is one of the absolute crowning achievements of the book as it shows precisely how perfectly executed the crimes have been and just how many people make perfect sense as the killer. This is also THE prime scene that shows Batman working through the conundrum with his brain rather than simply running all the variables through a computer like a math problem. The incredible mystery, the subtle themes, and the monumental impact on both the Batman universe and storytelling, there’s absolutely no reason for any fan of the Dark Knight Detective to skip this story.

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Posted by ULTRAstarkiller

I'll pick it up.

Posted by Gotham331

I've read Hush and from what I've been told Loeb's stories typically follow the same format. I haven't read Long Halloween, but maybe I'll give it a shot

Posted by StMichalofWilson

Great story

Posted by Hawkguy

Such an amazing story. And the art... unbelievable. A must read for Batman fans!

Edited by Breadspread

Love it!

Could we see Holiday in Arkham Origins? It does take place early in Batman's career, and on Christmas Eve, plus there is the mob connection.

Posted by K3vinkha0S

Ive been putting it off to long

Posted by Bigwalt

It's an amazing story. I love the cadence of Loeb's writing through out the story.

Edited by Lone_Wolf_and_Cub

For as much as people hate on Loeb(usually for a good reason) this is one of his best works. I love this story. I highly recommend this even if you hate Loeb give it a shot.

Edited by csantilli27

One of my favorite Batman stories. The sequel Dark Victory is a good read too

Edited by iceslick

I absolutely LOVE this book! Thanks for posting this one Corey @undeadpool. I have this book and you're right it is a pleasure to read. What's great about it was the characteritics of the villains and it did really well especially with Calendar Man! I kind of hate the way Calendar Man is being written in DC comic books now. They make into a goof pathetic villain. Even with recently Channel 52 news (Why the hell is he in there?! *face-palm*) and Arkham Unhinged books (which I do love but they can't see to his character right in those books.) it's not doing much. I hope he gets some respect in the future.

Edited by spidermonkey2099

Definitely a must-read for Batman fans.

Edited by nightwingnerd

Haven't read it yet really need to get from library!

Edited by SavageDragon

I cant believe there are Batman fans who havnt read this. Its truly a must read part of Batman lore. In my oppinion this is one of the best Batman stories as is it;s sequel Dark Vitory by the same creative team. Amazing story, awesome art by Sale. This gothic/noir story is really a classic. Corey brings up some great plot points but really this story cant be summarized because reading it gives you an awesome experience. One of my first Batman Graphic Novels and still to this day only Year One and The Black Mirror stand up to its story. Cant recommend it enough for any Batman or Gotham city fan. @undeadpool thanks for writing this article, more people should know and read about this classic (and Dark Victory!)

Posted by manwithoutshame

One of the best comics ever, Tim Sale was born to draw Batman!

Posted by gotwillpower

Favorite mystery story ever. I also really like the art in this book. The faces all look a little bit like the Mafia or something, but Batman's great.

Posted by CrashBang

The Long Halloween is easily my favourite comic book of all time. Probably always will be.

Although, I did just get through reading 'Blankets'. That was something special. OMG THAT'S WHAT YOU GUYS SHOULD COVER NEXT.

Posted by LyraFay

This is my favourite Batman story!! So clever and so twisty!! And Catwoman/Selina Kyle is awesome in this. And you're right, its surreal seeing her and Bruce/Batman have no idea who each other is but are building this slow romantic relationship! And I loved Two-Face in this and Dark Victory. He's so creepy and insane.

Posted by marvelftw

I love this story. It may be my favorite Batman story, but Dark Victory may just edge it out (The Long Halloween is basically required to read Dark Victory).

Posted by Cavemold

This was best story trilogy Loeb wrote. Eveeything else sort of went downhill

Edited by Novemberx2

its by jeph loeb... so i'd rather pull out my teeth and then go place my head on railway line then read anything that has ever come out of that hack.

Edited by kilomac29

Those silent black and white panels from Tim Sale, amazing! My second favorite Batman story.

Posted by FiveLetters

A true classic

Posted by CalebTheSpy

Favorite comic of all time. This is the book that got me hooked on comics! Picked it up randomly at a Half-Priced Books, thought it looked neat. Sat down to read it. Read it in one sitting as was blown away! If you haven't read this, go get it now!

Posted by The_Vein

This comic made my girlfriend, who'd never even thought to read comics before in her life, start reading comics. It's really good.

Edited by Watcherg6


Posted by shadowpdf1

This was one of the worst Batman tales. It was too long, too drawn out, with a pretty poor mystery. Not in love with the artwork, either. Never understood its appeal, or the appeal of the creative team.

Posted by tupiaz

A good read and probably Jeph Loebs best story ever. However I don't remember too much of it anymore. Have a lot of stories I need to reread. However the pile of stories that I haven't even read is pretty high at this point.

Posted by IgiMancer

I need a paperback edition of this.

Posted by Lurkero

I remember enjoying Long Halloween, but at the same time I don't remember much from it. It's not as memorable of a detective story as I was hoping it would be.

Posted by kaiklown

weird I just bought the 13 issues on ebay 15 minutes before reading this. Must be a sign. Im stoked.

Posted by Queso6p4

its by jeph loeb... so i'd rather pull out my teeth and then go place my head on railway line then read anything that has ever come out of that hack.

Normally, I'd have to agree but he can actually write Batman well. :-)

I have the absolute version of this and love it. It smells and feels so great.

Posted by SergeStorms

This story has a huge reputations but I found it boring. From what I remember, the action is very protracted, the plot is very contrived to fit the holiday theme, and I didn't get much sense of any of the characters. I am not saying don't read it, it is just that it may not be for everyone.

Posted by Foxdye

Long Halloween, Dark Victory and Catwoman: When in Rome. Classic stories and a must read for any Bat -Fan.

Posted by Veshark

It's a good story with fantastic art - but it does have some flaws with its storytelling. That being said, as whole, it reads as an entertaining mystery and remains one of Batman's most iconic tales.

Posted by mcbean

Why you should read it hmmm well it's AWESOME

Posted by sabracadabra

Already read it.Definitely one of the best Batman stories.

Posted by MrVoo

The Long Halloween is my most favorite batman story of all time. Everyone should read this jewel.

Posted by andy_117

I just ordered it this week! Good timing. Can't wait for this one to arrive in the mail.

Edited by xtremekidx

My favourite batman story ever

Edited by _Marc_74

On my list ofs but something else has always been bought. Black mirror last buy this next. I see a nice new re print

Edited by saoakden

I need to read this.

Posted by Phaedrusgr

@foxdye: Well said. If you love Batman comic books, you have to read these.

Edited by Arkhamc1tizen

i like these

Edited by Shallbecomeabattoo

A frikking MUST READ in absolute format! Everyone who consider shimself a Batman fan, who hasn't read this, has to hang his ead in shame and walk this way to the nearest comicbook store.

Again... buy this in absolute edition! So much better than reading it in normal trade or single issues.

Posted by Billy Batson

Bleh, such a crappy "mystery".


Posted by Saren

Recommend real Batman classics like Prey.

Posted by TDK_1997

I like the story and I have read it a lot of times but it's not such a great story.It's a little bit overrated but it's a must read for Batman fans.

Edited by kfhrfdu_89_76k

Already read it ( Twice. I also own it. ). Its pretty good.

Bleh, such a crappy "mystery".


I dunno about that. I couldn`t figure out who the culprit is. Then again, I almost never can. But anyhow, I liked the mystery in it.

Besides, the main reason to read this is the art. Loeb does many things fine, others greatly...but still, THE ART.

Posted by Billy Batson

Recommend real Batman classics like Prey.

Venom wouldn't be bad either.

Already read it ( Twice. I also own it. ). Its pretty good.

@billy_batson said:

Bleh, such a crappy "mystery".


I dunno about that. I couldn`t figure out who the culprit is. Then again, I almost never can. But anyhow, I liked the mystery in it.

Besides, the main reason to read this is the art. Loeb does many things fine, others greatly...but still, THE ART.

Neither did Loeb :p

This article explains what's wrong with it


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