From Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. Collecting issues 1-13. Published by DC Comics.
This series was collected in 1998 and it has taken me that long to read it. I’m shocked. If I had to guess, I would have thought the series was 10 years old. Not almost 25 years. And that I finally sat down to read it this week. My son and I have been watching the DC comics animated movies lately and there is a two part adaptation of this story. I knew there was a mystery involved and decided I should read the comic before watching an adaptation. That’s what it finally took for me to sit down and read this series. I waited far too long. Not only is this a great Batman story, one of the best. It is also now on my list of books to give to someone who has never read comics before and wants to know where to start. There is no knowledge needed other than what is in this comic and what the general public already knows. Batman, costume, fights crime, lots of bad guys, go. And go they do.
I’m not a big reader of mysteries, too many comics and genre fiction are already dominating my reading pile. But I respect them and have enjoyed the few I’ve read over the years. This comic is an incredible murder mystery and I never saw the reveals coming. Maybe those more versed in the format will put it together quickly but I was blown away by every twist and turn.
In Batman’s early years a murderer who calls himself Holiday is killing off one person a month on a celebratory day. Batman, along with Captain James Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent agree to team up with each other for the unified goal of capturing Holiday. Holiday’s murders first affect the Falcone crime family but without a suspect the Maroni family is blamed and all of Gotham nearly falls into a gang war. The classic rogues gallery appears as Gotham City transitions from gangsters to supervillains.
This is a bookshelf comic. The bookshelf in the living room that everyone sees, not a secret comic one. This is a read again every year kind of book. This is what I’ve been telling people for years about comics. No one has to read 30, 50, 70 years of stories. As long as the base for the main character remains the same – parents killed, fights crime, has lots of insane villains – go ahead and read any story you want. The Holiday mystery is amazing, the villains are terrifying, Batman is awesome and also not perfect, the supporting characters add so much to the story. I can already think of moments I need to go back and check again because I didn’t know who Holiday would end up being. Moments where comics do what only comics can, and tell a story that text nor art can do on their own.
I’ll be talking way too much about this comic for a while. Catwoman and Joker are great here. This might be the best Falcone story ever, probably is, and really gives him a moment to shine as an underappreciated Batman villain.
Don’t make my 25 year old mistake and go read this comic now. Your local library, online, comic shop, whatever your resources may be. If you’ve enjoyed any recent Batman movie, see where those creators got their inspiration for the Bat and read this comic.