Open Mike Night: Batman: The Long Halloween & The X-Files: Season 10 #1

Batman: The Long Halloween

Written by: Jeph Loeb
Art by: Tim Sale
Colored by: Gregory Wright
Lettered by: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Published by: DC

Maillaro: When we last spoke about this book, you seemed to be tearing through it pretty quickly, and enjoying it. Now that you’ve had a chance to finish it, I am curious what your impressions were.

Weaver: I liked it a lot. It had some issues, but none that really diminished the quality. I think stretching it over a year was done specifically for comic-selling reasons and felt like too much time in the story, and I also question a few of the decisions about what to use…for instance, in April, they go with April Fool’s Day and Calendar Man et al are focused on April Fool’s Day being a likely time for Holiday to kill…but I feel that Easter might have been a better choice, since it’s in April during most years and it’s certainly a bigger holiday than April Fool’s. It wasn’t even mentioned as a possibility. Like, “Today’s April Fool’s Day, and maybe he’ll strike, but he also might wait for Easter.” I’m wondering if this was either a March Easter year or if Loeb/Sale wanted it to be able to be set in absolutely any year. The other weak one was “Roman Holiday”, because I’m sure that something else could be found in August. Although certainly, Holiday would have a reason to use that day.

I’m going to engage in some spoilers here. I realize some people won’t like the ending, specifically the multi-killer part of it, and I agree, it doesn’t completely fit. It is, however, in the spirit of noir, and this was intended to be a noir book.

I’m also going to say that Tim Sale has a very stylized art style, and sometimes it really works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I also feel that shoehorning all the expected big Batman villains into it may have been a poor choice, but probably had to happen.

Maillaro: Just a quick summary for people who have never read it. Soon after Batman: Year One, Gotham finds itself in the middle of what seems to be a year long mob war. Someone is killing members and associates of the Falcone crime family. All of these killings happen on holidays, so the murdered is nicknamed Holiday by the Gotham police and press. In the end, Falcone’s “good boy” son Alberto (who was believed to be one of the earliest victims of Holiday) confesses to all the crimes. But the end of the book suggests that Harvey Dent and his wife Gilda may have committed some (if not all) of the murders.

My biggest problem with the ending was that it is just so out of character for Gilda Dent…uhm…at least I assume it is…I just realized I haven’t read a lot of comics with her. Maybe she was Jean Loring long before Identity Crisis… And it’s never really clear why Alberto would have confessed to all the murders if he didn’t do the first few. It would have been better if they spelled out exactly who killed who. I don’t mind ambiguous stories sometimes, but for a murder mystery, it’s kind of brutal…

One thing I did love was the foreshadowing when I knew to look for it. Calendar Man kept referring to Holiday as He and She in alternating fashion…

And there is a great shot of the Dent workbench earlier which is where Holiday was modifying his guns.

I also loved how Loeb and Sale did Riddler, Joker, and Catwoman. Joker’s solution to stop Holiday by killing a ton of random people and figuring that odds were Holiday would be one of them made me laugh…probably more than it should have.

Weaver: Alberto wanted to make a name for himself and make his father pay attention, so he wanted to BE Holiday, and take credit for all the Holiday killings. That made sense to me.

My favorite bit of foreshadowing was Harvey in the basement with the silver dollar. I knew it was the one that he would have as Two Face, and he was talking about coin flips…at that point I didn’t realize that he would be Two Face by the end of it, and it was still awesome to me. Those couple of pages were chilling.

I liked Joker, Riddler, and Catwoman…but Ivy, Mad Hatter, and Scarecrow really didn’t belong. I also wasn’t sure what the Solomon Grundy sideplot was all about. Was that a callback to something in Year One or was it just wholly random?

Maillaro: I actually think the Ivy story would have worked better over a shorter period of time (which really is probably true for the entire comic). It seems like she had Bruce under her control for about a month…and you think someone would have noticed.

The Solomon Grundy thing was odd to me too. I always think of him as more of a Green Lantern bad guy, but the Arkham Asylum games have used him as a Batman villain too. I did like how they used Grundy, but he seemed kind of random there to me.

But despite a lot of little things that bother me, I still this adds up to one solid Batman story. It has a great noir feel to it, and really spotlights a lot of characters in some cool ways.

Weaver: Yeah, Ivy had him from Valentine’s to St. Patrick’s Day, so that’s just over a month. It does seem like someone, anyone, would notice Bruce Wayne being weird. Catwoman was still shocked by it when she figured it out via the opening the shirt method.

However, yes, this is a great Batman story, and the noir feel is fantastic. It has its problems, but in the end, I think it’s going to stand up for a long time as one of the definitive Batman stories. I’m going to go 4.5/5 on the writing.

Maillaro: I am going to go a little lower with the writer a 4/5, though I suspect I will be a little higher than you on the art.

I LOVE Tim Sale. All the characters have very individualized looks, some of them don’t even seem to be from the same book as each other, and I kind of dig that. I also think the palette works so well for this book. It’s dark…but still bright, if that makes any sense at all (spoiler-alert…I often don’t make much sense). I am not sure if Sale is the right choice for just anything, but for a book like this or Superman For All Seasons or Daredevil Yellow, I think he’s perfect.

Weaver: At times, I absolutely loved the art. There’s no question that the colors and letters were phenomenal. However, I didn’t like all the design choices. Riddler felt too old and decrepit to me, and while Sale’s Ivy was fantastic, it’s just not what I want to see for her. His Two Face was great, and he also packs a ton of detail into the frames…so…hm.

I loved the art…except for the moments that I disliked it. But those were few and far between, and you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, so I’ll give Sale still a 4.5.

Maillaro: ::Uhm…well…okay then. I loved the art all the way through and have none of those complaints…and would also give it a 4.5/5. This business really needs some kind of unifying standard for scoring….

Maillaro: I haven’t started reading X-Files yet (well, that’s a lie, I did read the first two pages), but I did want to vent about something between reviews. You mind?

Weaver: Let’s vent! I haven’t read it yet either.

Maillaro: So over the last few weeks both DC and Archie have silently switched their digital policy to “drop the price of a book after 8 weeks instead of 4.” The only reason people found out was by sending Tweets to Comixology customer service to ask why a book hadn’t been price dropped.

Mike Maillaro ?@SkitchNM 12 Jun
@cmxsupport Any idea why Mega Man 25 didn’t price drop this week?

comiXology Support ?@cmxsupport 12 Jun
@SkitchNM Hey Mike. Archie recently moved to a 8 week price drop schedule.

The odd part is that I find this MUCH MORE vile than Marvel’s policy not to price drop at all. At least they were upfront with it. DC made such a big deal about price dropping after 4 weeks, which a lot of companies followed suit on. And then they quietly changed the policy. I actually have dropped all my DC and Archie digital purchases because of this policy, and I am very concerned that IDW, Valiant, Image, Dark Horse, etc will be following. I got no response from any of them on Twitter when I asked.

Weaver: I wonder if the market will correct back? Sometimes they’ll experiment with a variety of price points and timelines until they find the best fit.

Maillaro: I really hope so….how about you? Anything to rant about this week?

Weaver: Shockingly rant-free this week. Alright. No. Not rant free. How is it that we can have a story devoted to Ultron, long the last bastion of heroics by Henry Pym, and end up with not just Wolverine heroics, but ULTRA WOLVERINE HEROICS.

Maillaro: Yeah, but those heroics ended up completely fucking up time and space. So you take the good with the bad. I guess….

Weaver: A smarter writer would have let Pym be the one to screw up time and space. They could call him Acheron or something.

Maillaro: Yeah! ::waves to Grey::

The X-Files Season 10 #1

Written by: Joe Harris with Chris Carter
Art by: Michael Walsh
Colored by: Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by: Robbie Robbins
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

Maillaro: All right, back to work. X-Files, as I said last week, I was never a huge fan of the show. My sister and mother in law loved it, and every time I watched it, I thought it was entertaining, but I just never got into it. I did see the first movie in theaters and really enjoyed it.

But I have really been impressed with the quality of some of the comic series following up on TV shows and movies. IDW has done a great job with their Star Trek ongoing; DC’s Smallville Season Eleven and Zenescope’s Charmed Season Whatever have been great, and I have heard a lot of good things about Buffy and Angel. So I figured, what the hell, let’s check out X-Files.

Weaver: Unlike you, I actually enjoyed X-Files quite a bit…at least when it was Mulder and Scully. It’s been years since I watched it, though. Also, I actually enjoyed the second X-Files movie, which I think makes me one of like ten people in existence.

That said, I’m not wholly comfortable with the set-up here. I don’t like Mulder and Scully living out life as normals, and together. It doesn’t mesh with what I think the characters would do post-X-Files. That said, the plot was pretty solid and has me interested.

Maillaro: One thing that kind of threw me was I didn’t realize at first that the character in the beginning was Scully. Just from watching X-Files (and NCIS and Hawaii Five-0), my rule of thumb is that any character who shows up in the cold opening is either going to be murdered, kidnapped, or find a dead body. Instead we get Scully (now under the name Dr Blake) on the run from creepy cloaked figures. The whole opening sequence was done kind of odd, with all the things about “they have done something to my phone” and from the start, I was concerned I just wasn’t not going to enjoy this book.

Thankfully, after this opening sequence, when the story flashbacks to a few days earlier, things take on a much better pace and start to make a lot more sense. I loved the characterizations of Mulder, Scully, and Skinner. And there was a lot of real good build up revolving around the child that Scully gave up for adoption years ago, and people who might or might not be looking for this child.

Weaver: I, also, thought the character in the first sequence was going to be the sacrificial victim of the cold opening, and it became a bit messy and confusing for me when it wasn’t, but once things started making sense it was definitely a plot I could go along with. I know that the cold openings of X-Files are intended to bring you more questions than answers, but this one didn’t give me the right questions, even. Also, I thought Dr. Blake was going to be a Thor reference.

I believe Mulder, Scully, and Skinner were all characterized consistent with what made X-Files a great show, and that really helped out here, but unlike Mulder and Scully, I didn’t recognize Skinner at first (although I was clearly meant to). Even looking at his design now, he’s much further away than the other two.

As for the child that Scully gave up for adoption…do you figure that might be the mysterious little girl we see here? That would be intense.

Maillaro: I had considered it, but figured that Mulder and Scully had to be right about them looking for Scully’s kid, they wouldn’t have had to go through all this trouble.

And now it just occurred to me why that could not possibly have made sense. Scully says “Are they looking for him?” Her kid is a boy…duh…

I recognized Skinner immediately, though I couldn’t remember his name (I remember actor names far better than character names).

By the way, reoccurring theme in our reviews, CHILDREN ARE CREEPY!!! When Scully’s patient showed back up as a zombie later on, I said out loud, “I KNEW THAT KID WOULD BE EVIL!” Even more amusing is that I said that on a bus sitting next to a woman and her young kid. I quickly felt it was important to show her what I was reading so she didn’t think I was talking about her kid.

Weaver: Oh come on, like a social construct like gender can’t be stood on its head in the X-Files…

Although it does bring up the possibility that there’s some wacky “fated marriage between minors” creepiness going on here. In fact, I almost guarantee that.

It’s funny you recognized Skinner when I didn’t. I wonder if Cancer Man is going to show up at any point, that would complete the classic X-Files group.

All in all, this issue got off to a rough start, but then picked up steam. I’m going to give the writing a 3.5, docking it heavily for the beginning sequences but giving it good marks for pulling it together.

Maillaro: To be honest, I am not sure what X-Files characters are even still alive to say who can show up or not. The cover of the next issue shows the Lone Gunmen, which I thought was kind of cool. Always liked those characters.

I think I would go 3/5 for the writing. The beginning really bugged me. I did like the “Magician” stuff which I thought was a very fitting way to go with Mulder’s character, but I still had a bad taste in my mouth.

Probably 3/5 for the art too. The characters looked pretty true to the actors, and it set a great tone, but I didn’t particularly like the art style used.

Weaver: Death is only a minor inconvenience for the Cancer Man.

I dunno…I like the Lone Gunmen in small doses. Them getting the cover scares me, since any time they become the focus rather than the helpers it has about a 90% chance of sucking. Sorry, X-Files fans, but look in your heart, you know it to be true. There are exceptions, which is why I say 90%, but I’m not holding out a lot of hope.

I’m going to go 2.5 on the art. It was serviceable, but uneven. I have no huge marks against it, but it sort of canceled itself out to an average at best score.

Maillaro: All right, that pretty much does it. I might be wrong about this, but I think next week’s Age of Ultron 10 A.I. is all about Pym, so I was thinking about doing that. Any thoughts on a back issue?

Weaver: I THINK I have Man in the Ant Hill in some kind of collection somewhere, I should. We can look at that. Otherwise…do you have the first Yellowjacket? I have it in trade.

Maillaro: Avengers 59? It’s on Marvel Digital Unlimited, so I can definitely review it! And Man in Ant Hill is short, so we might be able to do a threefer… So next week is Pym week…Wow…those are words I never thought I’d say. I think you owe me a Starman week soon…

Weaver: Can do. Starman is something I like too.


Maillaro: So, before we close, I wanted to point out that my brother in law (and former Nexus writer) Chris Delloiacono & my friend and former editor, Daron Kappauff, has put up a Kickstarter for a graphic novel project they are working on called Horizon’s End. They have a great creative team working with them. Ron Marz, Darryl Banks, Moose Baumann, Troy Peteri, Stephane Roux & Dave Lanphear. And there are a lot of great rewards including original sketches by Mike Grell, Todd Nauck, and a bunch of other big names.

Check it out over here.

And there is a great interview by John Babos over here.

And here is some teaser art!

Final Scores

Maillaro – Story Weaver – Story Maillaro – Art Weaver – Art
Batman: The Long Halloween 4 4.5 4.5 4.5
The X-Files: Season 10 #1 3 3.5 3 2.5

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