28 October 2015

Faster than a DC Bullet: Project Gotham, Part XIII: Absolute Batman: The Long Halloween

Comic hardcover, 399 pages
Published 2007 (contents: 1996-97)

Borrowed from the library
Read December 2014
Absolute Batman: The Long Halloween

Storytellers: Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale
Colors: Gregory Wright
Letters: Richard Starkings

Year Two, June - October
I've reviewed this one before, but man, was I in a bad day then or what? Or maybe I was just in the wrong mode. This is Batman at his best: a vehicle for madcap adventures in darkness. Tim Sale's artwork captures the grotesque nature of Batman's villains so well; I just love that scene of Batman battling the Joker in a biplane on Christmas, made even better by the dimensions and quality of the oversized Absolute Edition. My old review decries Batman's lack of characterization, but that's utterly untrue; this is a Batman in love with Gotham, doing what he has to to save the soul of his precious city. Of three men doing that, actually: I really like the Batman, Gordon, and Harvey Dent team, three honest men in a city of crooks. I don't really get how the mystery is supposed to work here, but that doesn't bother me, what matters is the exceptional beauty of the journey.

I do have one criticism, but it's more of the other books I've read so far than this one per se. The whole point of Harvey Dent is that he's Batman's friend and colleague who went bad... but we almost never see him good. He plays a decent role in Year One, but there's been a good ten Batman stories chronologically between that one and this one in which, if Harvey's been in them at all, he's done so little I don't remember it (with the exception of Snow). Why does no one take advantage of this aspect of Batman's early days? It seems a wasted opportunity to make what happens in The Long Halloween even more poignant.

Next Week: Sure, we've already read the origins of Scarecrow and Two-Face... but why not read them again!?

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