Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Read Andrew Robertson's film review of Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two
Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two
"" | Photo: Warner Bros Pictures

The menu title screen is dominated by Two-Face, with Batman relegated to the third row of the background behind Poison Ivy and Scarecrow. A big saggy pumpkin with a distorted bat symbol for a mouth continues the holiday air. There's the usual bumpf of scene selection and subtitles. Those last were particularly handy as some parts of the feature are hard to parse without.

As with part one there are a number of DVD extras. These include an animated short ("DC presents"). These have the same opening sequence, going through a comic book shop to a rotary stand. This time it's the Blue Beetle.

Copy picture

The cover says "Who Is The Question?" and intermittent Blue Beetle buddy The Question appears. Given to asserting things like "moral truths exist independently of human knowledge" The Question's impact is perhaps less as a character himself, nor of creator Steve Ditko's legacy, but as one of the Charlton Comics antecedents to Rorschach of the Watchmen.

Blue Beetle "in Color" is quite entertaining, influenced by other adult animations. It's got Hanna Barbera feeling sound-effects, and statements like "that is a question for your urologist". 1970s inflected, to the extent that CCTV is described as 'new'. The Beetle's secret identity is not particularly well kept to good comic effect. That Charlton Comics reference becomes important later. Not the first time that it'll feel like things are repeated, as most of the animated opening is repurposed from later sequences. Shades of the A-Team rather than the animated Spider-Man there, but nerds must.

The George Carlin who in the throes of sadness says "what if jazz is... the biggest sell-out of all" comes at the end of a sequence that feels like a hastily pencilled double-page spread in a deadline skirting. Which is, at least, era appropriate. I laughed a few times, and not always because I was being pandered to as a comics fan. It did have a touch of the Adult Swim to it though, and despite enjoying the new Harley Quinn series I'm not convinced it's something that could be sustained. Admittedly, for one shots like this it works more than well enough.

Milo Neuman directs a story by Jeremy Adams and screenplay by Jennifer Keene, with Robert J Kral's music providing a degree of jaunt behind everything. Matt Lanter (TK/BB) and David Kaye (Q) have scores of superhero voices to their credits, though Lanter's face might be familiar from stuff like Jupiter's Legacy and Timeless.

There's a sneak peak of forthcoming DC animated feature Injustice, based on the 2013 fighting game subtitled Gods Among Us. Set in one of those parallel universe so easily reached by turning the page, it's got a civil war with Batman and Superman on either side. These are not new conflicts, Marvel and DC live action have both wandered through it. The depth of characters in the game is reflected in the preview, and extended. Neither Mirror Man nor Plastic Man were playable in the console or mobile versions, but they look to be well deployed here. The Elseworlds or equivalent gives them greater freedom to create peril for characters, and it looks as well animated as the rest. That it's a movie adaptation of a videogame of a comic starts to shade us into Free Guy level metacommentary, but I don't know that it'll share the same sense of humour. For decades now DC has a tendency to the grim and dark, and Lynn Varley's colour work cannot be held solely responsible.

There's a preview for The Dark Knight Returns Part 2, but that "preview" is coloured by the fact that the animated version came out in 2013 and the parent work is from 1986. The Dark Knight Strikes Again (the sequel) was a decade old by that point, and while DC Animated saviour Bruce Timm is/was involved the intent was to closely reflect Frank Miller's style. That's the "bold lines and black spaces" and not "whores whores whores whores", but one does sometimes wonder.

Michael Emerson's done only a couple of voice roles, but as The Joker he manages to hold his own with Peter Weller's Bat-Man. There's a preview of 2019's 'Hush' which is based on the 2002/3 comic series, and there are strong thematic similarities between Hush and The Long Hallowe'en. Not just in their willingness to use the depth of the Rogue's Gallery but also in how characters like Poison Ivy and Catwoman are used. That's not too much of a surprise, since Jeph Loeb wrote both. Jim Lee's art for Hush is distinct from Tim Sale's but seeing this preview after The Long Hallowe'en some of that differentiation is lost. Indeed, in assembly-line animation many of the details that distinguish are of character design rather than subtler things like line weight or colour. DREDD served as a visual translation of the styles of the hundreds who've drawn Mega-City One and its judges, it had similar weight and heft without having to engineer improbable kneepads or chins. This is counter to a homogenity seen in latter DC universe animation.

The extras are rounded out with two episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, Two-Face Part 1 and (unsurprisingly) Two-Face Part 2. First aired in September 1992 they still hold up. I am a child again, watching them on FOX channel 26. Kevin Conroy is my Bat-Man in a way that Michael Keaton couldn't manage. I blame the BBFC. The animation has dated, but it adds to the retro-modern Art Deco feel of it all. The first season (1992/93) is further from us now than Adam West's was from it. Batman's first appearance was fifty-three years before, we're now seven years past the Bat's Platinum (Batinum?) Jubilee. This Two-Face origin differs from the comics in a number of ways, perhaps more closely following that of The Joker than others. That lack of reverence for canon and the addition of a faultline for Two-Face's fracture helps pace it across two 22 minute episodes. The changes to Batman's place in it all help keep things moving, but it's still striking that a "previously" is immediately followed by a coin-toss and twins robbing a bookmakers.

Reviewed on: 17 Aug 2021
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Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two packshot
Second part of the animated adventure sees Batman search for a serial killer.

Region: 2

Ratio: 16:9

Sound: Dobly Digital 5.1

Extras: DC Showcase – Blue Beetle, An advanced look at Injustice, DC Universe Movies Flashback, Batman: The Animated Series – Two-Face, Parts 1 and 2

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