The Long Halloween

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"I believe in Jim Gordon. I believe in Harvey Dent. I believe in Gotham City."

The Long Halloween is a Batman mini-series that ran from 1996 to 1997, produced by the creative team of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. The mini-series came out of the duo's semi-regular yearly Batman Halloween Specials that they did for DC Comics.

The series, which is a pseudo-sequel to Batman: Year One, involves a number of intertwining plotlines. To begin with, a serial killer is targeting members of Gotham's crime families. Due to the killer striking once a month, each time on some holiday, and leaving a holiday-related trinket as a Calling Card, the press quickly dubs them The Holiday Killer (the title refers to the first murder, which was on Halloween).

For Carmine "The Roman" Falcone, the head of Gotham's largest remaining crime family, Holiday is just the latest in a long series of problems. The Batman has been a thorn in his side and Catwoman has been robbing him (prompting Falcone to put a bounty on both their heads), District Attorney Harvey Dent is crusading to shut him down, and he's facing competition both from other mobsters and from a new breed of criminals--the costumed supervillains.

Batman, Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Dent meet on Halloween to discuss an alliance to bring down Falcone. They promise to "bend the law but not break it", but as the stakes grow higher, they begin to distrust each other. Batman suspects that Harvey Dent is Holiday, and Dent becomes convinced that Bruce Wayne is secretly allied with the Falcone family. It doesn't help Bruce's case that Falcone is pressuring Wayne Industries into joining his money-laundering scheme.

Eventually, the Mob resorts to trying to catch the Holiday Killer by hiring supervillains. And Hilarity Ensues.

Everything leads up to two events: First, the acid being tossed onto Harvey Dent's pretty little face, leading to his transformation into the villainous Two-Face. Second, the downfall of Falcone's criminal empire.

The mini-series was extremely popular, in large part because it came out at the time that DC was overtly whoring out the main Batman books with cross-overs after cross-overs, meaning that fans were happy to have a compelling and well-written Batman book to read that didn't require them to buy four books and spin-off books to understand. It had a great deal of impact on later Batman books, most notably its exploration of the idea of the crime-fighting alliance between Harvey Dent[1], Batman, and Commissioner Gordon, as well as the subtext of the conflict between traditional organized crime and the up-and-coming supervillains. This was also a major influence on Nolan's Batman films: The Dark Knight copies the alliance between Batman, Gordon, and Dent straight from here, and homages this series in a number of other scenes--even the slogan "I believe in Harvey Dent" came from here.

Spawned two sequels, the less critically acclaimed (but still considered excellent) Batman: Dark Victory, and was concluded in Catwoman: When in Rome.


Tropes used in The Long Halloween include:
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Solomon Grundy's "hideout".
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Maroni offers to testify against Falcone, an offer that Harvey, being District Attorney and all, jumps at.
    • Falcone uses strongarm tactics to get the bank's board members on his side. His bodyguard Milos even offers to "convince" Bruce Wayne, but Falcone employs a much more subtle tactic against Gotham's favorite son.
  • April Fools' Day: The seventh chapter, in which Holiday commits a fake-out killing.
  • Asshole Victim: "Two shots to the head. If you ask me, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy".
  • Back for the Dead: Used somewhat in The Long Halloween - Most of the mobsters from Year One return with the ultimate purpose of being killed, although it's not a straight example due to them being alive for most of the story] Dark Victory contains far more Egregious examples - Various cop characters from Year One - pretty much anyone who was named, and even including characters who had retired such as Loeb - return briefly to serve as victims of the Hang Man.
  • Bald of Evil: Calendar Man.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Well, straw rope ladder if you want to get technical.
  • The Big Girl: A villanous example, Sofia Vitti Gigante, the Roman's daughter.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Organized crime in Gotham is in ruins, but through little effectual effort on the part of the heroes. In the process, Dent's life and reputation were completely destroyed.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Did you know that, when one is firing a .22 in such a way as to leave a bullet outline around the Riddler, you can fire about fifty or sixty bullets without giving the Riddler a chance to run away?
  • Bulletproof Vest: Batman employs one at one point, though not as part of his standard attire.
  • Butt Monkey: The Riddler, which carries over to Dark Victory as well.
  • By-The-Book Cop: Gordon will tolerate Bats and Harvey bending the laws, but not breaking them.
  • Calling Card: Holiday leaves one at the site of each of the killings. A jack-o-lantern for Halloween, a cornucopia for Thanksgiving, etc.
  • Consulting a Convicted Killer: Batman visits Calendar Man in his cell at Arkham Asylum to ask him where he might find the killer known as "Holiday". Calendar Man suggests that, the day Batman is paying this visit being a holiday, Holiday is likely looking to commit a murder.
  • Dating Catwoman: Literally, in this case.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Whenever Holiday is on the prowl.
  • End of an Age: In many ways, the story chronicles the transformation of Gotham City from a town controlled by traditional criminals like the Mafia into a city overrun by the "freaks" that make up Batman's rogue's galley. The weakening of the Falcone empire due to the Holiday killer allows characters like Two-Face, the Joker, Scarecrows and others to fill the power vacuum.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Johnny Vitti and his mother, Carla. A gender-reversed version is also present in Sofia and Carmine Falcone.
  • Evil Matriarch: Carla Vitti, Falcone's sister and Mob Boss.
  • Expy: Loeb's portrayal and use of Calendar Man is basically Hannibal Lecter without the cannibalism.
  • Face Heel Turn: One of the main subplots is Harvey Dent's transformation into Two-Face.
  • Femme Fatale: Catwoman, naturally.
  • Foe Yay:

Joker: Quick question. When the clock strikes midnight... do I get a little kiss?
[Batman strangles him]
Joker: I guess that's a no...
[ Batman punches him]

  • Gayngster: Possibly Alberto. Falcone is always advising his effete son to go "chase girls", but Alberto is markedly disinterested in anything but business.
  • Good Cop, Bad Cop: Gordon and Batman take on the respective roles when interrogating Mickey Sullivan.
  • The Grinch: The Joker
  • Hand Cannon: The Joker threatens Maroni with one in the Christmas chapter.
    • Mad hatter is also seen one with in the climax.
    • Subverted by Holiday's .22. The .22 is the peashooter of rounds, but in very capable hands it brought a city to its knees. To quote Clapton, "It's in the way you use it".
  • Hero of Another Story: Catwoman's entire motive is not revealed and is not resolved until Batman: Dark Victory.
  • Hollywood Silencer: A baby's bottle nipple. How it silences anything past the first shot is never explained.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Holiday strikes on Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Independence Day, a birthday, then Halloween again, notably not killing the Riddler (deliberately) on April Fool's Day.
  • How the Character Stole Christmas: The Joker
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each issue corresponds with a month, and is named for a holiday that falls in that month. The only exceptions are the first and last (each correspond with October, with the Holiday killings each falling on Halloween) which are named "Crime" and "Punishment".
    • August is also a slight aversion: the "holiday" is the Roman's birthday, and the chapter is appropriately titled "Roman Holiday".
  • Ironic Echo: "I believe in Harvey Dent".
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Practically all of Scarecrow's lines are nursery rhymes. Not to mention "Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday." The Mad Hatter also only talks in lines from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
  • Knife Outline: April Fool's. Riddler. Bullet outline.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Jim Gordon implies to Batman that the Rogues have appeared because he is in Gotham now.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Gilda Dent, if her internal monologue is to be believed.
  • The Mafia
  • Mob War: Holiday's killings place the Falcone and Maroni crime families at each other's throats. In Harvey's words: "They all want to do our job for us".
  • Money to Burn: Ever wonder where The Dark Knight got the inspiration for that scene?
  • Monster Clown: Joker, Joker, Joker.
  • More Teeth Than the Osmond Family: Joker, Joker, Joker.
  • Nice Hat: Mad Hatter & Scarecrow (the former's hat is about three feet tall).
  • Noir
  • Not So Harmless: Calendar Man, although Dark Victory shows this better.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: When Batman goesbatshit when he finally gets his hands on Holiday, breaking both of the killer's arms.
  • No Longer with Us: No, the Almost-Dead Guy meant Dent escaped the operating chamber, not that he died.
  • Pet the Dog: Batman giving Solomon Grundy (this is BEFORE Grundy became a super-villain again) a Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Organized crime has been almost completely neutralized, only to be replaced by the arguably worse supervillain element. And of course, Gotham's DA was a casualty of the conflict.
  • Rats in a Box: The interrogation of the Irish Gang.
  • The Resenter: Harvey.
  • The Reveal
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside An Enigma:

The Riddler: It's a mystery. Broken into a jigsaw puzzle. Wrapped in a conundrum. Hidden in a Chinese box. A riddle.

Batman: The promise that we made to bring down the Roman. What it cost us. Harvey...
Gordon: If you're asking me "Did the good guys win?" Yes, the good guys won, Batman. But, I won't know if it was worth it for a very long time...

  1. Whose pre-Two-Face self had not received much focus prior to this series