I took a break last week from American Gods to read some Halloween fare: The Gates By John Connolly and The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. The Gates is an entertaining story about a young boy named Samuel who stumbles upon a demonic plot to overthrow Earth while trick-or-treating three days before Halloween. (He feels his early attempts will be admired for his “initiative.”) A portal to the gates of Hell is opened when a “bit” out of the Large Hadron Collider flies off and winds up in the basement of bored suburbanites performing strange rituals, you know, just to liven things up a bit. Samuel spends the next three days trying to warn the town about the oncoming disaster and ultimately turns to his friends, his small dog, a misplaced minor demon named Nurd, and the CERN team in Switzerland to help vanquish his monstrous foes. This is is a fun, lighthearted, read that’s great for Halloween or any pleasant fall weekend.
The Long Halloween is a Batman graphic novel that takes place shortly after the events of Batman: Year One. A mysterious serial killer shows up on the scene who murders mob members and corrupt officials on major holidays, starting with Halloween night. The Holiday Killer eludes Gotham police, DA Harvey Dent, and Batman himself for nearly a year as they struggle through each calendar month, anticipating the next strike.
This novel explores Batman’s rogues gallery of madmen and supervillains as Gotham’s criminal element moves away from organized crime and more into the chaotic crime sprees of Joker, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, and others more typically associated with Batman’s canon. Gordon remarks to Batman, as they walk through Arkham Asylum, “So many are here. Nearly double from when you first appeared. Not that there is a direct correlation, but…do you give it any thought?” To which Batman, guided so intensely by his desire to rid Gotham of the evil that runs through the city’s veins, simply answers, “No.” The idea that Batman has created his own most diabolical enemies is a long-running one, and such a dark implication in Batman’s pursuit of justice only deepens the complexity of his character. The illustrations are mind-bogglingly stylized, and I especially love the massive foliage design of Poison Ivy. Batman fans, either new to the world or dyed-in-the-wool, must read this story.