And we’re back with your Halloween edition of Visions of Horror. Rather than focusing on an artist and single piece of their work, we decided to change things up for this round and showcase an entire series. Writing is, after all, just as much an art as drawing. So Farah and I are proud to feature Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb’s “Batman: The Long Halloween”, one of the most celebrated Bat-books of all time. “The Long Halloween” is a masterful run, with an intricate, mystery-driven plot, and exceptional artwork. This is a book that helped to define the modern day Bat-mythos, and, for that, we love it endlessly.
“Batman: The Long Halloween” is a brilliantly orchestrated mindbender, and a faultless example of how the right approach to storytelling can strengthen a comic book series. It’s a murder-mystery that keeps its secret until the very last page, and functions like an enigmatic puzzle whose pieces fit more securely with each impassioned read-through. The series sees the fall of Gotham’s most powerful mobsters, as they’re preyed upon by the elusive serial killer named Holiday, over the course of a year; from one Halloween to the next. Batman, D.A. Harvey Dent and Commissioner Gordon must figure out Holiday’s true identity and motives, while dealing with a plethora of notorious Batman Family adversaries, who’ve come out of the woodwork to join in on the chaos.
The series came out during the late 90s, a time we all know was not the best for cape and cowl books. Loeb’s crime-driver plot helped to rear back some of the ridiculousness that was going on in other books of that era, to deliver a serious, complex story that continues to shock readers to this day. The current detective-style Batman that we all know and love owes a lot to this series. We get to witness Batman’s intricate sleuth work as he uncovers the mystery of the Holiday Killer. This is a gritty Batman (not Frank Miller gritty), yet it also shows Bruce’s sensitive side as he deals with the tragedy of losing his longtime friend, Harvey Dent.
What’s so impressive about the book is how Sale and Loeb manage to bring in all important characters of Batman’s Rogues Gallery. It’s not just Joker and Two Face, but Solomon Grundy and Calendar Man that play pivotal roles as the mystery unravels. Loeb creates a believable serial killer plot, yet finds a way to include the villains we know so well. The tension continues to build with every issue, as Batman spends the entire year trying to crack the case. But what makes the book stand above all others is the unbelievably satisfying, and shocking conclusion. Loeb brings you on a wild goose chase, only to reveal that sometimes the most heinous of criminals aren’t the ones who have been locked up in Arkham.
For anyone not versed in the Batman mythology, this book functions as a perfect introduction. Though some may say “Year One” is a better start, “The Long Halloween” is often the first book I think of when people tell me they want to start reading comics. It’s entertaining, thrilling, and, of course, downright gorgeous.
Fueled by Eisner Award winner Tim Sale’s indelible illustrations, the book’s gritty, neo-noir-ish atmosphere really submerges readers into Jeph Loeb’s dark Gotham City universe. The striking use of light and shadow, along with Sale’s propensity to utilize perspective drawing techniques throughout this series, is stylistically perfect for the noir-esque setting; and really works to Batman’s advantage. There’s a simplicity behind Sale’s character designs, and Gregory Wright’s darkened colour palette, that really emphasizes the overall tonal style of the book. Sale’s take on the villains is pretty much second to none in terms of how sinister they appear.
If you want Bloody Disgusting to cover one of your favourite horror artists, or a fantastic piece of horror-related comic book art, head down to the comment section, or hit up Farah or Lonnie on Twitter.