Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Tim Sale
Our year-long, holiday review of The Long Halloween continues today with the third chapter of the series: “Christmas”.
It’s everything but Happy Holidays in Gotham, following the second round of murders on Thanksgiving. Citizens are paranoid, the police are confused, and the city’s mob is at each other’s throats. Even Batman is okay with the thought of Calendar Man being released from Arkham, IF he helps them catch the killer. These here are rough times.
However, this issue belongs to Gotham’s Grinch: The Joker. He is evil, poetic, and perfect. His opening is pure terror, tying up a family and stealing their Christmas. Oh yeah, and he’s reciting The Grinch along the way. It’s a terrible moment, but fans of the Clown Prince of Crime can’t help but cheer him on. It seems this Holiday business is stealing his thunder, and he wants to put an end to it. He visits Harvey Dent (who has just surprised Gilda with a new home), Salvatore Maroni (killing a goon at his restaurant), and invades The Roman’s penthouse (with an excellent nod to A Christmas Carol). He’s on the hunt, and he’s eerily jolly about it. It’s fantastic.
Lest we forget, this is a Batman story. The Dark Knight, though he doesn’t appear as much as his arch nemesis, is still hunting. It’s not that he didn’t take the Holiday killings seriously in the first 2 issues, it’s just here it’s demanded his attention. The opening pages have him accompanying Gordon to negotiate a release with the Calendar Man, proving he’s desperate. I also love the planting of guilt felt in this issue. When Gordon implies the number of inmates has doubled since Batman began fighting crime in Gotham, it bugs him. It’s subtle, but it’s bothered him. We’ll see this build throughout the story.
Another scene I love in this book is Harvey surprising Gilda. After the traumatic events they’ve been through thus far, it’s a sweet moment of a husband providing for his wife. Their feelings for each other are captured in one page by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, and I can’t say enough about it. Little moments like this are needed for the tragedy ahead to be as effective as intended. The Dents are a loving couple, and are both unknowingly going to pay the price for fighting crime in the months ahead.
A really solid issue here. Nothing beats Christmas in Gotham City, and The Long Halloween capitalizes on that. While the art from Sale is gorgeous and fitting, there’s a dread haunting every page thanks to Loeb. The Holiday killer is starting to get under everyone’s skin: cops, the mob, the Joker and Batman. This issue adds to the complex story in a seamless and exciting way, and serves as a wonderful gift for the Holiday.
To check out our previous reviews on The Long Halloween chapter, click here.