Home > Weekend Asides > Weekend Aside: A little bit of Halloween content…

Weekend Aside: A little bit of Halloween content…

October 31, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Since today’s normally taken up by the celebration of a parental birthday, there’s no real time to do a new episode review (I did update the schedule page), but a bit of Halloween content is appropos:

Batman_Haunted_Knight

Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale are practically joined at the hip in terms of their contribution to Batman Lore, most famously via The Long Halloween, the miniseries which played a large role in the development of Chris Nolan’s Batman movies. However, before that series, Loeb and Sale produced three well-received Batman Halloween specials which are collected in Batman: Haunted Knight.

The first special, Choices, deals with the Batman villain most associated with the holiday, Scarecrow. Scarecrow’s fear routine fits in well with the theme, but the core of the story is a classic Batman tale – namely, what happens when Bruce Wayne falls for a woman, and whether he can ever give up Batman to be with her. This one’s more the result of a gassing by Scarecrow than anything else – it’s doubtful that Jillian would have gotten as close as she did to a more sober Bruce – but for it’s cliche status, it does play out well in a longer format such as this one.

The 1995 special, Ghosts, plays out more like a Batman take on A Christmas Carol, with Batman dealing with a trio of ghosts.  This one’s my favourite of the bunch, because the quicker “chapters” give the story a much better flow, and because rather than treading on oft-repeated territory, Loeb instead delves into something that we haven’t seen explored all that often – namely, the creation of the Wayne Foundation and how Bruce came to know the comics version of Lucius Fox. Even if it’s ultimately a take on how, by devoting his family’s entire fortune to the Batman quest and not being a public citizen Bruce is hurting his overall well-being and ability to be effective in Gotham, the story works well – and Sale’s art is at its peak here, with a version of the bichromatic style that would later be used to such great effect during Greg Rucka’s incredible Detective Comics run. My only gripe is that Poison Ivy’s appearance doesn’t bring much to the story, but that’s not enough to bring this down much.

The final entry, Madness, places Batman up against the Mad Hatter, with a subplot dealing with James Gordon and his newly-adopted daughter Barbara (which places this after Long Halloween). Although it goes back to the well of re-living the night Bruce’s parents were shot, complete with yet another riff on Miller’s dropping-pearls sequence from Year One, it does do an effective job with making Hatter a bit creepier than his usual m.o. would suggest. I think we’re done enough variants on the “Bruce is somehow responsible for the death of his parents because he was something of a brat” routine by now – Loeb is especially fond of going to that well – and this is probably the weakest of the three stories as a result.

But as a way to celebrate a holiday that’s intrinsically linked with a guy who likes to dress up… as a bat… and fight villains dressed as clowns, scarecrows and the occasional immortal “Demon”, this is as good as it gets. Pick it up if you feel like a good read next Halloween.

There’s actually a Batman Adventures Annual that takes place on Halloween and is something of a “lost episode” in that it’s entirely the product of the TV team rather than Templeton and Burchett, but that’s more appropriately examined later in the Justice League season.

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Categories: Weekend Asides
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