Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

#104 in my book challenge for 2005 was Batman: The Long Halloween, written by Loeb and illustrated by Sale. This was Loeb and Sale’s first multi-issue collaboration, and it has much to recommend it. It is rooted in the characters from Frank Miller’s Year One, but expands on them in this noir tale of mafia and corruption in Gotham City. A killer is loose and taking out members of the Falcone family business. Batman, police commissioner Jim Gordon and DA Harvey Dent are trying to catch the killer and collect enough evidence on Falcone to put him in jail. Each member of Batman’s rogues’ gallery is introduced over the course of thirteen chapters, interpreted through Sale’s distinctive and striking artistic style. There is excellent characterization here, and great chemistry between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, and their alter-egos Batman and Catwoman. The story falls flat at the end, though. When the killer is purportedly revealed in one of the penultimate chapters, it is satisfying and makes sense. Yet the book goes on to finger not just one but two other characters. It’s a surprise ending that was set up in advance, so I have no quibbles there. But it’s murky–it’s not clear who murdered whom, and this feels cheap after the earlier, more satisfying reveal.

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