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  Batman: The Long Halloween Part One The Definitive Dark Knight Serial Killer Tale
Year: 2021
Director: Chris Palmer
Stars: Jensen Ackles, Josh Duhamel, Naya Rivera, Troy Baker, Titus Welliver, Billy Burke, Alastair Duncan, Jack Quaid, Jim Pirri, Alyssa Diaz, Amy Landecker, David Dastmalchian, Fred Tatasciore, Greg Chun, Julie Nathanson, Gary LeRoi Gray
Genre: Action, Thriller, Animated, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: It's Halloween in Gotham City where the presence of masked vigilante Batman (voiced by Jensen Ackles) is keeping the increasingly maniacal criminal fraternity in check, but he needs the help of the justice department to do so, and that means an alliance with Captain Gordon (Billy Burke), a cop rising steadily through the ranks, and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel), who has in his sights the crime family boss Roman Falcone (Titus Welliver), another reason the more crazed lawbreakers are not dominating. But that will not be the case as the year draws on, for one killer is ensuring Falcone's influence is diminishing as each month goes by, chipping away at his command and his troops - who is this conniver?

As the nineteen-nineties wore on, in comics, superhero comics at least, there was a lucrative trend in the writing where they would cram as many of the recognisable characters into a major storyline as possible, maybe because there was a chance many reader's favourites would be included therefore they would purchase copies, but mainly thanks to everything in the medium that made mainstream profit having to be an event. So you had the death of Superman, Batman overwhelmed in Knightfall, and graphic novels like Hush and this, The Long Halloween, which capitalised on the hero's premise of being a detective, therefore implementing a devious mystery for him to solve, along with as many of his rogue's gallery as they could include.

This was part one of the story in cartoon form, part of DC and Warner Bros' dedication to quality retellings of fan favourite storylines in that style which had a record of selling well to those fans who liked to see comic book movies and series looking like they were actual animated comics. Voiced by top talent - maybe not the most famous names around, but very good at what they did - some preferred them to the live action incarnations DC were conjuring up, on the big screen at least (though many of the toons had big screen debuts to drum up publicity). The Long Halloween had been created by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale as, if not a Batman: Year One saga, then nevertheless a story from the hero's earlier days, as a way of explaining how he got here from there, so while all the pieces were around, they were not completely in place yet.

The book had the benefit of some highly distinctive, almost stylised artwork that made it stand out and compelling to read, as after all a lot of the appeal of these multi-villain yarns would be to see how the artist rendered those bad guys, and in this first part alone we were served up The Joker (Troy Baker), Catwoman (the last work of Naya Rivera released, she having met an untimely death while in production), Solomon Grundy (Fred Tatasciore - now there's an easy gig!) and for aficionados of the more obscure antagonists, Calendar Man (a great, creepy turn from David Dastmalchian), who obviously has to be brought in for his opinion on a killer who strikes on holidays given his love of committing crimes on specific dates. If this was a shade self-serious, then The Joker added a few laughs, and as on the page it was a cracking mystery that director Chris Palmer and writer Tim Sheridan adapted with the economy that the source had enjoyed. Some would say this was one of the best of these DC cartoons, and it was assuredly up there. Music by Michael Gatt (also pleasingly spare and atmospheric).

[Warner release this on Blu-ray, with Part 2 to follow, with these special features:

Justice Society: World War II - Consumer Trailer HD
Batman: Soul of the Dragon - Consumer Trailer HD
Batman: Death in the Family - Consumer Trailer HD
A Sneak Peek at the Next Animated DC Universe Movie, Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two - The saga continues as Batman desperately hunts the Holiday killer and Harvey Dent comes face to face with his worst nightmare.
DC Showcase: The Loser
From the DC Vault: Batman The Animated Series: "Christmas With The Joker" - After escaping Arkham Asylum on Christmas Eve, the Joker takes over Gotham's airwaves and terrorizes the city for a crime. He challenges Batman and Robin to find his hidden TV studio and free his hostages - Commissioner Gordon, Detective Bullock and Summer Gleeson - before midnight.
From the DC Vault: Batman The Animated Series: "It's Never Too Late" - A mob war between crime bosses Rupert Thorne and Arnold Stromwell is nearing its end when Batman saves Stromwell and tries to persuade him to give up his life of crime and help the police bring Thorne down by testifying against him.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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