From 1996 to 1997, writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale embarked on a dark adventure that spawned one of the greatest Batman stories in comic book history. Serving as the follow-up to the duo’s BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT Halloween specials, BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN comprises thirteen issues that traverse the early years of Batman’s career as he hunts down a serial killer terrorizing Gotham’s citizens once a month during a major holiday. Additionally. the story depicts the origins of one of Batman’s most notorious villains: Two-Face.

The series is often noted for its dark tone, exemplified through Sale’s art, in addition to its intricate narrative full of mystery and unexpected twists. These and various other aspects of the series result in a definitive, gritty Batman tale that pushes its titular hero to his limits.

So, let’s look back on not only one of the greatest Batman stories of all-time but one of the greatest comic book stories ever created!

Two Faces to Every Crime

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 8. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

“I made a promise to my parents that I would rid the city of the evil that took their lives.”

These are the lines written on the first few pages of THE LONG HALLOWEEN, and they establish the overarching objective of the work as well as Batman’s ultimate goal. Yes, the Holiday Killer and Two-Face exist as the primary enemies of Batman throughout this story. However, Batman’s greatest foe lies in the near-impossible ambition he’s set for himself: exterminating the evil that flows through Gotham City.

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THE LONG HALLOWEEN’s opening chapter, “Crime,” begins with Bruce Wayne saying, “I believe in Gotham City.” This story, along with a multitude of other Batman comics, have established the concept of Gotham City operating as a cesspool of crime that engulfs the innocent. As a result of this portrayal of Gotham, Batman’s greatest flaw arguably lies in his belief in his city. Perhaps his hope that Gotham City’s stillsalvageablee is actually blind.

Evil isn’t objective nor is it tangible, a theme THE LONG HALLOWEEN exemplifies through Harvey Dent’s corruption. Now, although this hope might be a point of vulnerability in Batman, it’s ultimately required of him in order to truly be the hero Gotham City needs.

Family Matters

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

One of the most distinct aspects of BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN lies in its eclectic aesthetic. It balances gothic vibes with parallels to film noir, elevating the dark and mysterious nature of the narrative. Most recognizably though, the work’s imagery exudes similarities to notable crime films. Specifically, it shares parallels with THE GODFATHER film series.

Gotham crimelord Carmine “The Roman” Falcone’s appearance is nearly identical to that of Marlon Brando’s portrayal of Don Corleone. Also, sequences such as Johnny Viti’s wedding and Holiday’s murder of Johnny in a bathtub were clearly inspired by scenes from the famous crime saga. Now, though these parallels add to the aesthetic intricacies of the work, it also provides it with a cinematic quality that broadens the narrative’s scale.

THE LONG HALLOWEEN is abundant with depth. It doesn’t only focus on Batman’s rogues’ gallery. In fact, it arguably focuses more on the “less theatrical” characters who become the most significant representations of evil, as THE GODFATHER portrays through the corruption of Michael Corleone and descent of his family.

Bad Dad, Prodigal Son

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 9. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Thus, in regard to the events of the first chapter, they establish the pawns of the story. These pawns come in the form of the Falcone family. Loeb presents Carmine as your typical mob boss, but he introduces Carmine’s opposite in the form of his own son, Alberto Falcone. Carmine refers to Alberto as “the good son.”

Why?

Well, Alberto maintains a persistent desire to be seen and heard by his father, who excludes him from his illegal affairs. In Carmine’s own words, he believes Alberto should, “Not [be] worrying about things that don’t concern [him]” despite Alberto’s desire to help.

Law and Order

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Top: Frankie Pentangeli meets his fate in THE GODFATHER PART II. (Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures). Bottom: Johnny Viti meets his fate in BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN. (Image courtesy of DC Entertainment).

Ironically, Carmine doesn’t truly know his son. He’s immersed in his work, driven by it. He’s arguably obsessed with it. So, Carmine cannot know his son because his son isn’t a part of his world, a world he created himself.

Interestingly though, Carmine isn’t the only one in this tale who makes sacrifices in the name of work.

“Crime” explores the sacrifices an individual makes for what they perceive to be their duty. Carmine sacrifices his son out of his duty to crime while Dent and Gordon sacrifice time with their own families for their duty to the law. Thus, Carmine opposite Dent and Gordon reside on different sides of the same coin. They act on what they believe is right, even if what they believe hurts those they may have once maintained a duty to.

The Cat Strikes

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Of course, one of the most recognizable faces of Batman’s rogues’ gallery is Catwoman. In THE LONG HALLOWEEN, Bruce Wayne is actually in a relationship with her alter ego, Selina Kyle. Her role throughout the series is actually much larger than one might anticipate. As Catwoman, she pursues a personal mission: trying to confirm if Carmine Falcone is her father.

This quest continues in Loeb and Sale’s six-issue miniseries titled CATWOMAN: WHEN IN ROME, published in 2004. Unfortunately for Catwoman though, she never learns the truth.

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Therefore, one of BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN’s many thematic elements comprises the role a parent can or cannot play in their child’s life as well as the consequences that ensue as a result of the role the parent chooses. This story sheds light on the imperfections of parents, an aspect a son or daughter may not accept until they are old enough to acknowledge their parents’ faults. It also sheds light on the concept that at times, answers are unattainable. Catwoman’s personal narrative ends without a resolution. She doesn’t find the answers she seeks and her journey ends just as it began, in the dark.

However, this conclusion may be one of the most realistic aspects of the entire LONG HALLOWEEN saga.

The Thin Line

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Despite being the beginning of a thirteen issue series, “Crime” maintains quite the shocking ending for an introduction. Two men are murdered; including Johnny Viti, who meets his death by the hand of the Holiday Killer, marking Holiday’s first kill.

As Loeb brings Holiday to life, he also begins alluding to Dent’s eventual descent into evil.

To complement Loeb’s portrayal, Sale continuously implements duality into his depiction of Dent. He uses shadows to obscure one side of Dent’s face, most notably in the sequence where Dent expresses his opinion that sometimes the line between the law and crime should be crossed. Dent hints that he wishes to instill his own form of justice in the world, he just hasn’t attained the means to do so.

Now, perhaps the most shocking aspect of the first chapter’s conclusion is the explosion that takes place at Harvey and his wife Gilda’s home. To accompany Sale’s image of the destruction, Batman narrates, “I believe in Jim Gordon. I believe in Harvey Dent. I believe in Gotham City.”

Despite all the loss he’s witnessed and the darkness Gotham is willing to succumb to, Batman maintains belief in his broken city and its broken people.

Thanksgiving for None

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

THE LONG HALLOWEEN presents Gotham City as its own character. Its vices can be witnessed in the mafia that controls the city. Its hopes can be witnessed in Batman, who serves as an uplifting symbol of justice to Gotham’s citizens. Now, its darkness can be witnessed in something else entirely. This darkness can be found in, as Batman puts it, “Gotham’s lost souls.”

Chapter two, titled “Thanksgiving,” introduces Solomon Grundy to the fray. Grundy spends his days within the sewers of the Gotham, being forgotten by those living above. Most unfortunate for Grundy though, he lives his life totally alone. Yet, on Thanksgiving Day, Batman spends his holiday meal with Grundy. Two of Gotham’s most lost souls somehow find kinship in each other. They are both symbols of Gotham City, whether light or dark.

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Thus, the second chapter of THE LONG HALLOWEEN circulates the façade of family. The Falcones present themselves as a close-knit group of loving relatives when, in reality, they’re shattered from within. Alberto resents his father just as his father’s sister, Carla, resents him. She feels as though Carmine is failing to do enough to get justice for her murdered son, Johnny Viti.

Therefore, their family is a mirage, one that’s fragile and breaking before their eyes, facilitating the concept that sometimes the family one is given isn’t as strong as the family one may choose.

Winner Takes All

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The opening pages of “Christmas,” THE LONG HALLOWEEN’s third chapter, depict Captain Jim Gordon and Batman investigating the Holiday murders. They travel to Arkham Asylum to interview Julian Day, also known as the Calendar Man. Due to the nature of his alter ego, the two believe Day can provide them with some insight into the identity of the elusive Holiday killer.

At Arkham, Gordon states that the asylum’s population has nearly doubled since Batman first began his crimefighting career. Batman doesn’t believe in the correlation, but it’s an interesting statistic to ponder. One can argue that Batman’s presence provokes challenge, one that comes in the form of his opposite. For a hero to be a hero, they need a villain to counter them, forcing them to save the world and embark on the challenging, sacrificial journey of a hero.

Additionally, several characters in THE LONG HALLOWEEN believe balance requires duality.

What better duality is there than the contrast between good and evil?

So, it’s not totally outlandish to believe that Batman’s presence has led to a rise in villains who wish to defeat the hero and reap the rewards in the form of Gotham City.

Introducing the Heir to The Roman

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

On the surface, the New Year’s Eve segment of THE LONG HALLOWEEN is simple. The main narrative is Batman’s battle against the Clown Prince of Crime. As this fight ensues though, something terrible occurs. Holiday determines their next victim: Alberto Falcone, the good son. Despite his father’s refusal to involve him in business matters, Alberto still becomes embroiled in Gotham’s crime saga.

The chapter also continues scrutinizing Batman’s vulnerability. In his narration, he refers to Harvey Dent as a friend. For a lonely individual, it’s interesting to see Batman express sentiments towards someone. These sentiments will eventually contribute to Batman’s guilt regarding the birth of Two-Face. He’ll wonder if he could’ve done more, but even Batman can’t stop fate.

Mad World

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 6. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

“New Year’s Eve” introduces Carmine’s daughter, Sofia Gigante, to the story. She serves as a significant character of THE LONG HALLOWEEN and its sequel, DARK VICTORY. In chapter seven, Sofia and her father interrogate the Riddler, hoping to have the villain solve the mystery of Holiday’s identity. Now, despite the fact that both the Falcones and the Riddler are criminals, they perceive each other as opposites.

The Falcones, who speak for Gotham City’s mobsters in this sequence, believe themselves to be distinct from Batman’s notorious rogues’ gallery. In fact, they’re disgusted by individuals like the Riddler and are only seeking help from him out of desperation.

Interestingly, Falcone and his criminal family dominate the first few chapters of the series’ narrative. They maintain control of Gotham City as well as the primary narrative of THE LONG HALLOWEEN. As the story progresses though, the more “theatrical” villains take over until Two-Face reigns supreme.

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The more “ordinary” criminals cannot possibly hold onto their control of Gotham City. Their perception of control is blind because they believe their hold is strong enough and will persist. No.

The true prizewinners of Gotham City are those willing to go a little mad.

Sins of the Father

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 9. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Chapters eight and nine break the form of THE LONG HALLOWEEN as they dig deep into the past, specifically that of the Wayne family. Specific moments from the past include the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents, a memory that persists within his subconscious.

As a result, when Scarecrow blasts him with his notorious fear toxin in this chapter, that tragic moment is the first memory that consumes Batman. He remembers the pearls scattering across the ground of Crime Alley as his mother took her last breath. Of course, Bruce could never forget this moment not only due to its tragic nature but also because it’s a tether to Batman’s identity. As long as Bruce is operating as Batman, he must hold onto that memory and never let go.

As aforementioned, THE LONG HALLOWEEN is a story about parents and their children. Chapter nine digs further into that theme when it’s revealed that Bruce’s father, Thomas Wayne, once saved Carmine Falcone’s life. Thus, one can only wonder who would have possessed Gotham City had Thomas not saved Carmine. Perhaps Thomas did the most human thing he could’ve done by saving the future crime lord. Perhaps he was too human and sympathetic. Either way, it’s likely that another crime lord or supervillain would have taken over the city in Carmine’s place.

Thus, perhaps Gotham City truly is immutable.

Sins of the Son

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 9. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Despite the perception of Thomas’ actions, he was fulfilling his duty as a doctor as well as a human being. Additionally, his intentions were genuine because he was a good man and a good father. Through this perception, Bruce does indeed parallel Thomas.

On the other side of this story, we see Carmine as a father. He’s the opposite of Thomas in every way possible. He continuously expresses indifference towards his children, particularly when it comes to their involvement in his business affairs. When Sofia gives him a Father’s Day present, he reacts with apathy. Carmine likely isn’t happy with her involvement in his business. He also probably doesn’t understand how to act with those who don’t live directly within his criminal world.

Interestingly, despite the fractured state of the Falcones, there are still those who would do anything to have even a semblance of family. During the sequence where Carmine reacts oddly to Sofia’s gift, we see that Catwoman was witnessing the entire exchange. She almost appears envious of the father-daughter interaction despite its awkwardness. Catwoman most likely doesn’t envy the relationship between Carmine and Sofia. However, what she does want is an affirmation of her identity so that she knows she comes from somewhere and isn’t alone in this world.

Gilda Dent’s Sorrow

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 11. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Gilda Dent is the center-point of BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN not only because of the story’s conclusion, which I’ll discuss later, but because she’s the only one who notices and understands Dent’s descent into darkness. She expresses her concerns about Harvey to Gordon’s wife, Barbara, in chapter ten.

She believes Gotham City consumes people, good people, and turns them into something unrecognizable. Specifically, Gilda believes Dent’s involvement in bringing down Carmine Falcone has transformed him. She wonders if the Harvey Dent she fell in love with will ever return to her or if his duties have changed from maintaining loyalty to his family to what he believes to be justice.

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Considering the way Gilda speaks though, she seems to believe that day will never come. Gotham City has sucked all the hope out of her. To Gilda, Harvey has fallen too far into the abyss. So, the only way to get him back is to follow him in the dark and accept the consequences.

The Birth of Two-Face

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 11. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

“Roman Holiday,” the eleventh chapter of THE LONG HALLOWEEN, features the most iconic moment of the series and comic book history: the birth of Two-Face. Before that moment takes place though, Gilda confronts her husband after she finds a .22 caliber pistol in their basement, the same weapon Holiday has been using to commit their murders. In this moment, she actually believes that her husband could be capable of being a serial killer.

Of course, he denies the claims and rushes to court where Carmine’s rival mob boss Sal Maroni is waiting to splash acid across the left side of his face, the tragic event that changes everything.

This catastrophic moment is ultimately the trigger that catalyzes Dent’s complete descent into villainy. When he’s transported to the hospital, he actually stabs a doctor in an effort to escape. He no longer feels the need to suppress the violence from within as his duality is now exposed. It gives him the balance he’s been seeking and validates the perception of justice he’s struggled to come to terms with.

One may have doubted Gilda’s confrontation of Harvey, believing her claims to be outlandish.

She knew. She knew what her husband was capable of, and she knew that all he needed was a little push.

A Life Lost 

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 12. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Harvey Dent is dead. He’s now amongst the lost souls of Gotham City with Solomon Grundy.

Chapter twelve depicts a scarred Dent escaping into the sewers of the city. He meets Grundy, who surprisingly inspires him. Dent asks himself:

“Can a man live two lives?”

The answer is he can and he has. In this chapter, the Calendar Man describes Dent as “Har v. Dent. The Gemini.” Dent has always been at odds with himself and who he was expected to be as a man of the law. He was reduced to one persona. Now, he’s free to be whoever he desires.

The loss of Dent is one that strikes a chord with Batman. In a confrontation with Gordon, Batman refuses to believe that Dent could be capable of the Holiday killings. Gordon believes Batman has been too close to the situation and too close to Dent. Batman reached out to Dent. He believed Dent to be an ally and a friend. Now, the man once known as Harvey Dent will become one of his greatest enemies.

Thus, Batman is experiencing a tragedy. His faith in Gotham and its people has been struck. As a result, Batman enters a state of limbo in which he must determine how to be a hero when his faith has been compromised and not go down the same path Dent did.

Let Justice Reign

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 13. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The final chapter of THE LONG HALLOWEEN features a grand reveal. After shooting and killing Sal Maroni, Alberto reveals himself to be Holiday. Batman nearly beats Alberto to death but stops when Gordon reminds him that’s not the type of hero he is. Batman’s rage ultimately stems from his guilt in his failure to solve the Holiday mystery. The World’s Greatest Detective couldn’t solve this crime, and that shortcoming haunts Batman. He feels as though the blood is on his hands.

However, Batman ultimately escapes his limbo when Gordon reminds him of his identity. Batman remains a symbol of hope despite his shortcomings.

Later, we come to discover that Alberto claimed to be Holiday to spite his father. Falcone never allowed him to be a part of his business affairs, but now Alberto is more notorious than his father will ever be. Thus, Alberto decides notoriety is better than invisibility.

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Despite this reveal, the story is far from over. A grand fight takes place in Carmine’s apartment between a multitude of characters including Batman, Catwoman, Solomon Grundy, Joker, and Two-Face. All members of the Falcones Family have either been killed or defeated. Now, Gotham’s most infamous villains are taking over, claiming their spot in Batman’s tale.

At the climax of the fight, Two-Face kills Carmine, taking matters into his own hands.

In this moment, he decides Carmine’s fate by the flip of a coin. Now, he perceives randomness as order. To Two-Face, randomness is the only way in which true justice can be served. Chaos brought upon by criminals is often random; therefore, the punishment to chaos should be like so.

The Unmasking of The Holidays

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 13. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Upon Carmine’s death, Two-Face declares Gotham City is his. Now, we’ve reached the pinnacle of the battle between Gotham’s mafia and Batman’s rogues’ gallery. The mafia never had a chance. Gotham City belongs to the costumed villains who have nothing to lose.

Following this though, Two-Face turns himself in, believing he’s fulfilled his duty to justice and order. During his arrest, he claims that there were, in fact, two Holiday killers. Batman responds that Alberto and Dent were both Holiday in the end, since Dent killed Carmine Falcone.

What Batman doesn’t know though is that he’s completely wrong.

Now, despite his shortcomings in the Holiday killings and the fact that no one won in the end, Batman still maintains hope upon the end of the story. Batman vows to continue upholding his promise to his parents because he believes there are still good people in Gotham City. Despite the darkness that consumes the city, he believes there is still a light waiting to break through it, and he is its herald.

The Real Holidays

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 13. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

I mentioned previously that Gilda understood Harvey’s darkness. That’s because she was right there in it with him the whole time. In fact, she didn’t have to follow him in because she was there before him.

Alberto was never Holiday.

He only assumed the title to spite his father and die in notoriety. The true Holiday Killer of this story is Gilda Dent. In order to have the life she wanted with her husband, she decided to take matters into her own hands. By killing off the Falcones, she believed Harvey wouldn’t have to spend so much time out of the house and neglect his duty to his family.

Ironically though, Harvey had the same idea as his wife. He too is Holiday. He attempted to kill Alberto on New Year’s Eve and ultimately murdered Carmine in the final chapter. Thus, he and Gilda are two sides of the same coin. They had always been in the darkness together. Gotham City had taken them both because Holiday is an idea, deeper than the mob or Batman’s rogues’ gallery.

Holiday is an exemplification of Gotham City pushing its citizens to the edge.

Still, Gilda didn’t win. Yes, she got away with her crimes, but she lost Harvey. Yet, her final words affirm her belief in him. She believes that one day her crimes will be justified because she did her duty to her family.

What Lies Beyond BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN

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BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN chapter 13. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN would spawn a sequel titled BATMAN: DARK VICTORY, a series that ran from 1999 to 2000. Though the sequel doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor, it’s a solid series that revisits the setting Loeb and Sale expertly established.

This setting that Loeb and Sale created is wonderfully unique. It’s brutal, opposing Batman in every way.

THE LONG HALLOWEEN remains one of Batman’s most popular stories because of Loeb and Sale’s originality. Holiday isn’t your ordinary villain, and the narrative structure certainly isn’t ordinary either. Thus, Loeb and Sale brought down plenty of risks in composing this unorthodox story.

However, these risks, among others, prevail.

The saga is one that every Batman fan and even every comic book fan should read, because it’s just that phenomenal.

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