Fan Retrospectives: Batman: The Long Halloween: Valentine's Day
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Tim Sale
Color Artist: Gregory Wright
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Review by Eric Lee
It is Valentine's Day in Gotham City and Batman is besieged by multiple threats.
|Tim Sale's cover is full of symbolism.|
Let's take a moment to examine the cover. It heavily features a heart motif, which is an obvious signifier of Valentine's Day. The cat is a symbol for Catwoman and the scratch on Batman's face represents an injury Batman sustains in the issue. Furthermore, there is a ton of shrubbery around Batman, which is a subtle hint to what will happen at the end of the chapter.
Moving onto the actual comic, Alfred is confronted at the door by Commissioner Gordon and DA Harvey Dent. You can spy some bats floating in the ceiling behind Alfred in the opening splash page.
|The bats in the background don't make literal sense, but are a hint to Bruce's alter ego.|
This is an example of artist Tim Sale's expressionist style. It does not really make literal sense for the interior of Wayne Manor to have bats, since Alfred probably cleans the mansion routinely. It is better to interpret some of Sale's art as non-literal. The best example is Sale's Joker, who has inhumanly large teeth.
While Dent and Gordon inspect Wayne Manor's gigantic foyer, Dent makes a comment about not being someone "Who likes dressing up". This is an ironic statement given how Dent will eventually become Two-Face.
On the other hand, Alfred makes a subtle and biting comment about how the two men are wasting their time, by implying their wives will be waiting for them on Valentine's Day.
In a cemetery, Batman confronts The Roman at the grave-site of Alberto Falcone. Look at Batman's cape in this splash page.
|Batman's cape wraps around the whole panel|
This is another demonstration of Sale's non-literal style. The cape is a visual metaphor that Batman has the Roman within his grasp throughout their conversation.
"Is it worth it?" Batman asks, implying that the Roman's criminal activities are starting to cost him his family.
The Roman argues that Alberto had nothing to do with his seedy dealings, but Batman knows the truth; the Roman's sins are finally catching up to him. Initially, Batman described the Roman as "Gotham City's untouchable crime lord". However, seeing the Roman broken up over his son's death, he can see how vulnerable and "Touchable" he has become.
Interestingly, according to the gravestone, Alberto's birthday is Valentine's Day. This explains why the Roman is visiting his grave-site now and also becomes a plot point later in the series.
Before the Roman and Batman can get too far, Catwoman interferes, by wrapping the Roman's arm in a bola. Once again, Catwoman seems to only appear around the Roman. When Batman attempts to address this with her, she pricks his face.
Writer Jeph Loeb makes a cool visual transition from Batman holding onto Catwoman's claws to Bruce Wayne holding Selina Kyle's hand lovingly. One can fret about a lack of resolution in the Batman and Catwoman melee, but clearly Loeb prefers to write the scene in a non-literal, almost-lyrical sense. Loeb is trusting that readers can fill in the dots and assume that Catwoman escaped somehow.
|The scene transition is done with only its visuals.|
|A stranger scratches Bruce Wayne with a rose thorn.|
|Dent's assistant Vernon unknowingly exploits Maroni's pride, telling him how he is the weak link in the Falcone crime empire.|
|Holiday's Valentine Day attack is the most brazen.|
While all this was going on, Gordon and Dent both see their respective wives, who were waiting for them on Valentine's Day. The shot of Dent handing Gilda a box of chocolates has great visual composition.
|Harvey and Gilda Dents' wedding rings are highlighted with some well-placed coloring and shadows.|
Finally, Bruce Wayne returns home in thrall. He ignores Alfred as he sniffs the rose he got earlier. He opens the balcony doors to reveal that he has been possessed by Poison Ivy.
|Poison Ivy's imp-ish look evokes a siren role in the story.|