Throughout various media, Batman is regarded as being a highly-skilled detective capable of solving complex crimes in a matter of minutes. Of course, these conflicts are solved swiftly to keep the plot moving but most investigations can’t be solved so quickly. They take time and patience, much like in Batman: The Long Halloween.
Taking place over a year, a mysterious serial killer known as Holiday targets the Falcone and Maroni crime families on certain holidays with Batman tasked to uncover the culprit with Captain Gordon and Harvey Dent. Since this takes place during his formative years as Batman his rogues’ gallery is still developing and he has much to learn about being Gotham’s protector. While many fans consider this to be a timeless tale and one of the Dark Knight’s greatest adventures some aspects haven’t aged as well.
10 Timeless: A Fresh Take on Gotham
If not for Tim Sale’s artwork in this mini-series, The Long Halloween wouldn’t be as memorable as it is today. His usage of dark colors and shadows truly makes Gotham all the more mysterious and somber, reflecting the inner darkness in characters like Harvey Dent. Gotham itself is well-designed with each location standing out from Arkham Asylum’s dungeon-like layout to Harvey’s Dent’s shadowy office. The characters receive a touch-up with Poison Ivy’s hair actually made of ivy to Joker’s cartoonish over-sized smile, to Calendar Man’s chilling, eerie redesign removing the tacky calendar cape.
9 Not Aged Well: Obvious Inspirations
There’s a difference between paying homage to legendary films and ripping them off. Even if you haven’t seen The Godfather the similarities are obvious between Don Vito Corleone and Carmine Falcone as well as Michael Corleone and Antonio Falcone. Appearances aside, they both run notorious crime families and have sons that they don’t want involved in the family business, but turn out to be vicious criminals.
Then you have Calendar Man, who is a blatant Hannibal Lector wannabe. He’s incarcerated criminal who helps the police catch a killer while behind a glass cell providing vague hints about the killer. Granted his new design makes him less of a joke villain but the inspiration is too easy to see. The two of them should be in Arkham just for identity theft.
8 Timeless: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Part of what makes Batman’s enemies so special is their relationship with the Dark Knight. The series points out the parallels drawn between Batman and his rogues like Solomon Grundy, Falcone, Scarecrow, and many more. Like Grundy, Batman is a victim that has been forgotten by the people of Gotham that has no family to call their own. Bruce and Harvey want to protect the city through unorthodox methods much like Falcone. Batman is just as obsessed with finding Holiday as Joker is and is willing to control people as Batman much like Ivy and Scarecrow do with their pheromones and fear toxins. It’s fascinating seeing how the characters mirror each other and frightening to think how close Batman is from falling from grace like Harvey.
7 Not Aged Well: Batman’s Illegal Activities
For the most part, Batman’s unorthodox method of stopping crime has been permissible. He’s gone over the line a few times but he usually never goes beyond beating up goons and interrogating criminals. In this series, he tends to abuse his powers as Batman. When Bruce fails to convince his bank’s board members not to take the Falcone family has a client, he terrorizes the manager as Batman into stepping down.
Later on, when Batman and Harvey find the stockpiles of Falcone’s money, they set fire to the millions rather than report it. While this is all done to weaken the Falcone family, Batman is acting above the law for his own goals. Even if it’s a better alternative to murder, it’s morally questionable.
6 Timeless: Thomas and Martha Wayne’s Legacy
Everything Batman does is to honor his late parents. For better or worse, Thomas and Martha Wayne are indirectly responsible for making Bruce the way he is and this series proves it. As a child, Bruce was inspired by his father’s altruism when he saved Carmine Falcone’s life convincing him to never take a life, no matter how awful a person is. At the same time, Bruce blames himself for talking his mother into wearing her special pearls the night they were murdered, believing that she would have lived without them. By revealing this, the readers receive insight into Batman’s mentality and explain his actions.
5 Not Aged Well: Scarecrow and Mad Hatter’s Bank Heist
Out of all the villains Falcone could have broken out for a bank heist, he could have done worse than Scarecrow and Mad Hatter. Scarecrow’s fear toxin proved effective in taking out the guards but what about the rest of their plan? Make their getaway in a conspicuous, horse-drawn carriage with money bags labeled with dollar signs? With no back-up in case they encounter the police, Batman, or Catwoman? Hatter doesn’t even contribute with his mind control cards and is essentially useless to the operation. It’s a neat aesthetic but this isn’t the Victorian Era. That’s in a completely different mini-series.
4 Timeless: Catalyst For Two-Face
For the longest time Two-Face had a simple origin and motive. He was Gotham’s D.A. until a mobster threw acid in his face during a trial that scarred his face and drove him mad. Then The Long Halloween dared to ask what if the acid wasn’t what changed Harvey.
Throughout the mini-series, Harvey discovers how broken the justice system is in Gotham and it is hinted that Harvey has an unstable relationship with his father. In this series its posited that Harvey’s transformation has been building up as he loses faith in right and wrong and that the world is dictated by chance. Two-Face becomes a much more complex character that puts him above the C-list criminals in Gotham.
3 Not Aged Well: Shoe-Horned Villains
No one can deny that Batman’s enemies are among the most popular villains DC has to offer. Yet just because you can use them doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Certain characters feel like natural additions like Joker, Solomon Grundy, and Catwoman. Yet having Scarecrow escape on Mother’s Day because he strangled his mother on the same day feels a bit heavy-handed. As cool as it is having the super-villains show up in Falcone’s office with Two-Face, Batman takes them out far too easily and they don’t add much to the climax. For crying out loud the Penguin makes his debut in the final issue appearing in two panels with no lines.
2 Timeless: Things Never Change
It seems that for all the work Batman does to protect Gotham, nothing really changes. Batman, Gordon, and Harvey work tirelessly to bring down the crime families and catch the Holiday killer but in the end Falcone gets usurped by “freaks” like Two-Face and Scarecrow. All that work to remove a great evil in the city only for a new threat to rise up and replace it. As disheartening as this is, there is a silver lining. If nothing ever changes, then by that logic evil will never win.
Before Batman came into being, Bruce’s father was a doctor helping those in need out of the goodness of his heart. Gordon gives his all to clean up corruption at the police force, and even Catwoman goes out of her way to save Bruce from Poison Ivy. In a way, this story is uplifting because no matter how bad things get, there will always be a Catwoman to leap into the fray, there will always be a Jim Gordon working hard, and there will be a Batman to watch over Gotham.
1 Not Aged Well: Batman Fails To Catch Holiday
While Batman was able to catch Alberto Falcone, the alleged Holiday Killer, but he didn’t catch the original: Gilda Dent. The mini-series does a fine job misleading the readers into overlooking Gilda as a suspect. However this was also set decades ago where technology wasn’t as advanced, even for Batman. If the Arkham Asylum games indicate anything, Batman has the tech needed to not only recreate the crime scenes perfectly but also track down which store the killer bought the trinkets they left behind. Or at the very least, he would consider her as one of the suspects.
'The Long Halloween' is one of the most influential Batman stories ever. While some elements remain timeless, others haven't aged as well.