While I’m not much of a comics fan, I did enjoy the faux Bruce Wayne/Bruce Lee team up Batman: Soul of the Dragon enough that when I saw Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One pop up I decided to check it out. Director Chris Palmer (Voltron: Legendary Defender, Superman: Man of Tomorrow) and writer Tim Sheridan (The Death and Return of Superman, Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost) have adapted the 13 part story by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale into two films with the second part out at the end of July.
When a mobster is killed on Halloween Eve, the night before he was going to testify, a young Batman (Jensen Ackles, Supernatural, My Bloody Valentine) makes a deal with the only two men in Gotham City’s legal system he can trust Captain Gordon (Billy Burke, Komodo, Twilight) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel, Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.) to take down the crime family involved.
But when the killings continue, holiday after holiday, it becomes obvious that there’s something very different going on. And the killer may be closer than they know.
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One is set in a Gotham City that looks like the 1930s. But Dent tells his wife to pick out an old black and white movie to watch. Commissioner Gordon is still only a Captain and has a rotary phone on his wall. But Dent follows Batman with what looks like a GPS cell phone app and there are computers in the Bat Cave and the Batmobile. I haven’t read the original story, however, I’m assuming it’s set in one of DC’s many alternate universes. Regardless, it makes for an interesting, if at times confusing, setting for the story.
As I mentioned this is a story from early in Bruce Wayne’s career as a crime fighter and it’s a transformative one. He learns that being big and scary won’t be enough if he wants to take on more than just street thugs. He’s going to have to learn to think not only like a criminal but like a detective as well. It’s a nice change seeing a Batman that isn’t infallible, and even takes a beating courtesy of some of Chinatown’s Triad enforcers.
Along the way we also meet early incarnations of The Joker (Troy Baker, Baki, Amphibia) and Catwoman, voiced by Naya Rivera in her last role. She actually has a fairly important role and gets to be more than just a potential playmate for The Caped Crusader. Another character we get a different look at is Harvey Dent. Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One is a rather grim film, but he has plenty of lines that are amusing given what would eventually become of him. Combined with a look at his marital issues and mental state he’s actually a credible suspect.
There’s also a villain I’m unfamiliar with, The Calendar Man (David Dastmalchian, Ant Man, Bird Box). He’s a creepy individual who has a Hannibal Lecter type exchange with Batman and Captain Gordon in Arkham Asylum. Hopefully, he’ll play a larger role in Part Two.
A dark and compelling mystery, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One ends on a near perfect cliffhanger. There’s also a post credits teaser for Part Two which managed to raise my level of anticipation even more. If it’s as good as Part One I may end up becoming a regular viewer of these films.
Batman: The Long Halloween Part One is available today, June 22nd on Blu-ray & Digital from DC Entertainment & Warner Bros. Entertainment. You can check their website for more information.