Monday, August 15, 2011

Jeph, Jeph, Jeph, Jeph, Jeph. That better be intentional.

Okay, fine. I did it!
First review of some of my Melbourne spoils, and dear oh dear it's complicated. For those that haven't read The Long Halloween (widely considered some of Jeph Loeb's best work), it picks up after Frank Miller's Year One, and from there it's a roller coaster of quality and (dubious) whodunnit excitement. At 368 pages, it's not exactly short, but then it doesn't really cost too much either (currently US $11 at Amazon). The art is Tim Sale covering Frank Miller (I haven't read enough of Sale's work to say if it's par for the course or not) and does a pretty good job of it.

The story is fairly simple: While Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and Harvey Dent try and take down the Falcone Crime Family, Someone (or is it someones) else is busily doing it from a much more murderous angle. Each chapter of the book deals with another "Holiday" on the calendar (some of these aren't even Holidays, but just dates of note), and another grisly killing. For those that haven't read the book, no Julian Day (The Calendar Man) is not the core villain, though he does get a couple cameos.

Unlike the June weather,
Selina isn't looking so hot here.
At the end of the story, there are three possible candidates for the Holiday Killer, and for all the internet debate, you can really take your pick of "who killed who" and mix and match however you like between Alberto, Harvey, and Glinda. But it wasn't Batman. Batman doesn't kill. There are various implausibilities that go with each candidate, and each killing, and the disappointing thing is that there's no definitive answer. You can take Glinda's admission at face value, but what of her mental state? She's clearly past the beginnings of a breakdown. Alberto also confessed, but Harvey says there were two killers. Finally Harvey could have done them all (And we're lead to believe that for much of the story), but had no motive for some (such as the coroner). The best theory is that all three had a go at some point, but hey, given that it's never been finally settled, it's really a choose your own adventure (which is as the book seemingly would have it be). There's also the idea that identity of the Holiday Killer was changed as the story was being produced solely because internet chatter had determined who it was. I personally think that's one of the bigger pats on the back the online comics community has incorrectly awarded itself.

The story itself is solid, and not tied to continuity (though it does portray Harvey becoming Two Face), though it's sometimes a bit stilted, and.. seems to have.. ellipsis all over... the place. Sale's art is serviceable, though it'd be nice to have women that looked, y'know, feminine. On the other hand, adding further detail would likely have given away key elements of the story that weren't meant to be revealed. Some times less gives the story more.

Overall it's a decent read, and one that is definitely enjoyable. If you manage to snag it cheap, I'd definitely grab it. It goes well with Year One after all, and fills in an afternoon fairly nicely.

Next week I'll delve into the Melbourne haul again, this time for something I enjoyed immensely when it was coming out, and couldn't help but grab in Omnibus format.

From before Fraction's writing seemed to fall in on itself.

As a late inclusion, for those that love a collected edition, are interested in the DC reboot, and want a decent price on the lot, how about killing all of the above birds with this ominously large tome.


  1. Good review Westy. I have this in trade and it is indeed a whopper!

    I agree with your point about the females in this - they aren't purty. However, I think it's part of the style.

    Great stuff mate!

  2. I wasn't blown away by this, but then I've never been blown away by anything Jeph Loeb writes. It's a nie read if someone doesn't follow Batman and you want to give them a contained story. Nice write-up Westy.