BY MATT TUCK
After part one of Batman: the Long Halloween, the epic is proving to be as much a suspenseful mystery as it is a love letter to Batman: the Animated Series.
BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN PART ONE
When it comes to gritty, action-packed superhero adaptations, the DC Animated Universe is on a different level. The mature cartoons are so well done that it is a wonder why WB doesn’t hire the DC Animated crews to put together the DCEU.
That being said, the bar was understandably high for the first half of Long Halloween. For the most part, it met all expectations. Part One fits the mold and continues the DC Animated tradition of excellence.
Fans of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s original modern classic from 1996-1997 will appreciate how closely the adaptation follows the comics. Of course, this is standard operating procedure for DC Animated. The last Batman two parter, The Dark Knight Returns, was so faithful to its comic origins that it drew criticism. Those critics will likely find the same issues with Long Halloween, which follows the script very closely. While I understand the need for a few twists and turns even for comic fans, it’s hard to improve on what was already near perfection to start with.
One change that caught me by surprise was the stylized look and feel of Gotham City pulled straight from Batman: the Animated Series. Like BTAS, Long Halloween’s Gotham appears to exist in a time warp. Everything about it is like perpetual 1940s. The cars - specifically the Batmobile - the buildings, the guns, and even Batman’s grappling gun are pure BTAS. There is so much taken from the revered cartoon that Long Halloween could easily be an extension of BTAS.
The similarities to BTAS are both a plus and a minus. As much as fans adore the original run of BTAS, including myself, it was a delight to see the cues taken from the show. On the other hand, it may have been better served for Long Halloween to have stood on its own, especially if the movie is intended to connect to the larger DCAU. Having the 1940s BTAS look and feel wouldn’t necessarily fit with the other animated movies that are clearly set in the modern world.
Speaking of the greater DCAU, the art style matched what we last saw in Superman: the Man of Tomorrow. Some of the character models were inspired by Tim Sale’s artwork from the Long Halloween comics, most notably the Joker. If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn that Mark Hamill was doing the voice acting. Instead, Troy Baker did his best Hamill impression, and it fit perfectly with the BTAS theme.
While I am glad the DCAU in its newest incarnation is moving away from the anime feel, I am not sure the more cartoony art style is the way to go. Considering the massive BTAS inspiration, it would have been more fitting to follow that model. And for some reason, Bruce Wayne appeared to be drawn with black eyeliner, which I found distracting.
It is not directly stated in Long Halloween, but this takes place in the early days of Batman’s crime fighting career. Several times, characters in the movie mention that the Caped Crusader is not adept at sleuth work. In fact, Batman himself acknowledges that he did not realize that being a costumed superhero would require him to also be a detective. In light of that, it is a refreshing look at the early days of the Dark Knight in a similar vein as Batman: Year One.
All in all, it was a satisfying adaptation and a great addition to the DCAU. I’ll be looking forward to reviewing Part Two.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.