|Batman: The Long Halloween|
|First Published:||1996 and 1997|
|Previous Issue:||Batman: The Man Who Laughs|
|Next Issue:||Batman: Dark Victory|
Batman: The Long Halloween is a 13-issue limited series written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale. It was originally published by DC Comics in 1996 and 1997. It was inspired by the three Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Specials, by the same creative team. The entire series has been collected in both trade paperback, and as part of the DC Comics Absolute Editions. The series' success led to Loeb and Sale to reteam for the sequel, Batman: Dark Victory and Catwoman: When in Rome, which pararells the events of Dark Victory.
Taking place during Batman's early days of crime-fighting, The Long Halloween tells the story of a mysterious killer named Holiday, who murders people on holidays, one each month. Working with District Attorney Harvey Dent and Lieutenant James Gordon, Batman races across the calender as he tries to catch Holiday, before he claims his next victim each month. The story also ties into the events that transform Harvey Dent into Batman's deadly enemy, Two-Face. In continuity terms, The Long Halloween continues the story of Batman: Year One. It also revolves around the transition of Batman's rogues gallery from simple mob goons to full-fledged supervillains. It also tells the origin of Two-Face, adding along to the story in Batman: Annual #14.
Jeph Loeb has stated that the genesis of the story was influenced by writer Mark Waid, who, when told that Loeb was working on a story set in the Year One continuity, suggested focusing on Harvey Dent's years prior to becoming Two-Face, as that had not been depicted in depth since the original Year One story.
Carmine "The Roman" Falcone and his mafia family hold Gotham City in an iron grip. However, the Falcone mob is in desperate need of a means to launder their ill-gotten gains, and the Roman sees the Gotham City Bank as a likely source. To that end, he has used his influence on several members of the bank's board of directors, including bank president Richard Daniel, to persuade them to accept his family's business. Falcone takes advantage of the occasion of his nephew's wedding to similarly convince Bruce Wayne, but Bruce refuses. Bruce is eager to leave and pursue his regular night activities, until he meets up with Selina Kyle, who convinces him to stay. Meanwhile Gotham district attorney Harvey Dent has been in the basement parking garage of the Roman's home, copying down the license plate numbers of various cars. The Roman's goons beat him to a pulp, warning him to lay off for his own sake. Luckily, Bruce and Selina soon arrive, on their way home for the evening, and help him to his feet. Harvey brushes himself off and curtly walks away. Although Selina asks Bruce if he has further plans for the evening, Bruce claims he is tired and leaves.
Dent meets up with Captain Jim Gordon of the Gotham City Police Department later that night and the two discuss possible means of bringing the Roman down, including involving Batman. Similarly, Bruce and Selina meet again in the Roman's penthouse, this time in their costumed guises of Batman and Catwoman. The Roman puts a million dollar bounty on their heads. Batman chases Catwoman through the city but she eludes him even as she dodges questions regarding her motivations against the Roman. Batman gives up the chase to answer the Bat-Signal beamed out by Dent and Gordon. The three enter a pact to bend the rules if necessary, but never break them. Batman then disappears, but he leaves behind the Roman's ledger, an incriminating piece of evidence from the penthouse. Soon, Bruce is in a meeting of the board of Gotham City Bank, protesting the position of the other members in favor of accepting the money. When he proves unable to sway them, Batman pays a visit to Richard Daniel, the bank president, warning him to keep the Falcone money out. Daniel subsequently resigns from his position and Bruce steps in. In August, Falcone orders his nephew Johnny to come home from his honeymoon to take care of the problem. In September, Johnny kills Daniel, gunning him down as he steps out of a theatre.
On Halloween, Johnny Viti is shot twice in the head by an unknown assailant while taking a bath. The perpetrator leaves behind the murder weapon, a .22 caliber pistol with the nipple of a baby bottle used as a crude silencer, as well as a jack-o-lantern. That night Dent, Gordon and Batman discuss the murder, and Dent lets it be known that he couldn't care less about the death of a mafia hitman. The three discuss the particulars of the murder and toss about possible suspects, when Batman notices that their conversation is being eavesdropped upon. Catwoman, listening in from the rooftop, offers to help Batman hit the Roman where it hurts the most: his money. Catwoman's information leads Batman and Dent to a warehouse on Gotham Harbor, where they discover that the Roman has stockpiled over $20 million. Dent contemplates stealing some of it, but Batman dissuades him, and they together set fire to the warehouse and destroy the money to strike a blow that Falcone cannot ignore. Dent cheerfully returns home to help his wife Gilda Dent give out candy to trick-or-treaters. As he is rummaging through his mail, a bomb hidden inside a package goes off and blows the house sky high, with Dent and Gilda barely surviving. For months afterward, the killings continue.
On New Year's Eve, the Joker intends to release his Joker venom gas on Gotham Square at midnight, killing the crowd and hopefully Holiday. To that end the Joker has hijacked a plane and killed the flight crew. Batman arrives just as the Joker is taking off and hitches onto the plane. As Batman fights with the Joker in mid-air, Harvey Dent is working late on the Holiday case. Just as he is leaving, his new assistant, Vernon Fields, comes in with new information on the Roman case. He has searched old police files and discovered a connection between Carmine Falcone and Bruce Wayne. On Falcone's yacht in Gotham Harbor, the Roman is talking with rival Sal Maroni during the former's New Year's party. Maroni says that the Holiday killings have been bad for business and that they should put aside their differences to put an end to it. Falcone subtly suggests that Maroni might be behind Holiday, using as evidence the fact that the hits have all been on members of the Falcone family. Just then, Falcone's son Alberto falls overboard, shot by Holiday.
Dent arrives home, apologizing to Gilda for his lateness. She notes his hair is wet despite the fact that he was wearing a hat. He enters the living room to find Gordon and his wife Barbara there to celebrate New Year's with them, but he heads off for the kitchen. Gordon follows, leaving Gilda and Barbara to discuss the possibility of the Dents having children. Gilda however feels like it's a lost cause, since Harvey is always working. Barbara tells Gilda that business is a taboo subject that evening, but in the kitchen Dent and Gordon are discussing Harvey's recent discovery about Bruce Wayne.
Above the city, just as the clock strikes midnight, Batman battles the Joker and aims the plane toward the harbor. At the last possible moment he grabs the Joker and leaps to the nearby clock atop a skyscraper. The plane harmlessly splashes down into the water and Gotham is saved. The murders continue, and soon it is August 2, Falcone's birthday, and the date on which Maroni is going to trial to testify against him. Before Dent can head for court, however, Gilda stops him, disturbed by something she has found in the basement: a .22, just like one of Holiday’s guns. Dent claims that it’s simply evidence he brought home from work. Batman has other things on his mind than the trial, namely finding the Riddler, whom Holiday let live on April Fool’s Day. Batman tracks him down and challenges his connection to Holiday. Riddler explains that the Roman hired him to find out who Holiday was but kicked him out when the solutions he gave were less than satisfactory. This information leads Batman to posit that maybe Riddler was left alive to spread the word that the Roman was looking for Holiday.
On the day of Maroni's trial, Fields surreptitiously hands him a bottle of what appears to be heartburn medicine. When Dent inquires if the Roman ordered the attempt on his life, Maroni fakes a coughing fit and reaches for the bottle — which is actually acid. Maroni hurls it at Dent, hideously disfiguring half of his face. Dent is rushed to the hospital but, once there, he stabs a doctor and escapes. Meanwhile, Viti's widow Carla, investigating the coroner’s files on the Holiday victims, becomes one herself.
As of Labor Day, Dent has been hiding out in Gotham’s sewers for a month, and crosses paths with Solomon Grundy. At first Grundy attacks him, but when Dent begins reciting the nursery rhyme from which Grundy received his name, he stops and calms down. Gordon, meanwhile, has come to the conclusion that Dent is Holiday. Batman refuses to acknowledge it, but Gordon demands to hear the truth from Dent himself. Batman first searches at Falcone’s penthouse, asking him if he knows where Falcone is. The Roman accuses him of knowing that Dent was Holiday but standing aside while he killed, because criminals were the only victims. Batman departs and seeks out Catwoman, demanding to know why she is so interested in Falcone. She refuses to answer, and runs away. Batman confronts Gilda next about her husband’s whereabouts, inquiring about the .22 they found. Batman tells her that he found gun metal shavings on Dent's workbench, as if he had filed away the serial numbers there, but Gilda can provide no explanation. Batman finally ends up at Arkham Asylum, talking to Calendar Man. Batman tells him that they know Dent is Holiday but not how to find him. Calendar Man suggests that, it being a holiday, there is only one option as to the location of Holiday.
That night Gordon, at Batman’s request, moves Maroni to a new cell. The Calendar Man tells Batman that Maroni is most likely destined to be Holiday’s next victim. Sure enough, the Calendar Man's prediction comes true when Holiday surfaces to shoot Maroni twice in the head during the prisoner transfer, and his bodyguard several times in the chest. Holiday turns his gun on Gordon, who can only helplessly stare up into the face of the man about to kill him: Alberto Falcone. The bodyguard leaps up. It is Batman, who was wearing a kevlar vest. Batman beats Alberto so severely it almost kills him, but Gordon stops him. Alberto is placed under arrest and jailed. A few days later his father comes to visit in jail and offers his assistance. He tells Alberto that he can get him out if he will plead guilty to Maroni’s murder alone and drop any notion of being “Holiday.”
Alberto spurns his father, saying that Gotham now belongs to the "freaks", and he is one of them. On Halloween, Jim and Barbara Gordon go to visit Gilda, who is left wondering where her husband is and if he is even still alive. Meanwhile, there has been a breakout at Arkham. All of the inmates have been set free by a solitary figure who, after flipping a coin, decides to leave Calendar Man in his cell. Falcone is furious over Alberto’s unwillingness to accept his help, which has subsequently led to his impending execution for the Holiday murders. As he is ranting in the kitchen to Sofia, the lights cut out suddenly. The two explore the house with their guns drawn, finding guards dead all around. They burst into the Roman’s office to find all of the Arkham escapees there, along with Solomon Grundy, Scarecrow, the Mad Hatter, Penguin, Catwoman, and their mysterious leader, who reveals himself to be Harvey Dent.
Dent is about to kill Falcone when Batman drops in, taking down the villains one by one under the cover of a smokescreen. The distraction allows Dent the opportunity to grab Falcone, and he faces down Batman with a gun to the mobster's head. When Batman appeals to Dent to let Carmine go, Harvey tells him that his name is now "Two-Face". He then flips his coin, which lands scarred side up. Two-Face shoots Falcone twice in the head. Sofia screams and rushes forward to attack Two-Face, but Catwoman stops her. The two wrestle and fall through a glass window. Outside, Catwoman grabs onto a ledge, but Sofia plunges to the ground many stories below. Two-Face knocks Batman out and goes to take revenge upon Fields for helping Maroni scar him. Batman finds Fields' dead body later and, following the Bat-signal to the police department, then discovers Two-Face on the roof ready to turn himself in. Two-Face says that justice has been done now that he has killed the Roman. As Gordon slaps the cuffs on him, Two-Face drops one final bombshell as they take him away; he tells them that there were two Holiday killers.
Later Gordon and Batman discuss what Two-Face might have meant with his final statement, since Alberto has confessed to all the Holiday murders. Batman postulates that, since Two-Face killed the Roman on Halloween, he was the second killer. Gordon goes home to his wife and says that he has to keep fighting for the good of Gotham, despite what it has cost. Batman similarly says to himself that he must keep up his work, for the sake of the promise he made to his parents on the night of their deaths. In the extended edition of the story it is revealed that Alberto avoids the gas chamber and that after being declared insane, is sent to Arkham Asylum, where he occupies a cell across from the Calendar Man's.
On Christmas Eve, Gilda is packing up boxes for her move away from Gotham, but before she leaves, she takes a box down the basement furnace. She describes aloud to herself how she read in Dent's case files about the removal of the serial numbers of guns and how baby bottle nipples could be used as silencers. She then removes from the box a .22 pistol and drops it into the flames of the heater, along with a familiar-looking hat and coat. And she claims that she took it upon herself to start the Holiday killings, in an attempt to end the Roman’s hold on Gotham and thus lighten Dent's caseload so that they could have a child. Her belief is that Dent took up the killings on New Year’s Eve and that Alberto is lying to the police with his confession. She also says that she knows Dent will eventually be cured and that they will reconcile, because she believes in him.