Originally published as a series of comics in 1996-7, Batman: The Long Halloween, written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Tim Sale, is well respected in the comics community. It doesn’t hold as much constant high praise as Batman: Year One or The Dark Knight Returns, yet it stands apart from those other tales extremely well.
The Long Halloween is aptly named. It focuses on Bruce Wayne’s early days as the Caped Crusader, dealing with a crime that sees various citizens of Gotham picked off one by one on a specific holiday.
The mystery killer, dubbed Holiday, weaves their way in and out of crime overlords, Gotham’s rising tide of super-villains and the trio of Batman, Jim Gordon and a pre-Two-Face Harvey Dent, killing the victims with ease while staying one step ahead of Batman and co, all building towards an immensely gripping climax.
Perhaps the one big reason why The Long Halloween is held in such high regard is that, in all technicality, it isn’t a superhero story at all – it’s a genuine detective story, and is more similar to the works of Rex Stout than Guardians of the Galaxy. The story spans a year’s worth of holidays, allowing Loeb’s story to move at a pace that’s as slow-burning as Sale’s artwork. Its little wonder why The Long Halloween never recieved some form of adaptation in Nolan’s recent Batman films – the story is too coiled, too character-driven, and too noir-like to receive a bish-bash-bosh Hollywood execution.
The Long Halloween‘s tension is almost frightening, its pace nearly makes you tear the pages when turning in anticipation to find out who Holiday might be, and its climax sends one right back to the beginning, not just to piece the mystery back together in a clearer fashion, but to re-indulge in a truly terrific graphic novel.