It’s a bit pointless reviewing something that has already been read by just about everyone in comics. Still, I felt compelled to read it again in preparation for the new movie and thought I should put my two cents up here anyway. If nothing else, perhaps you could all get a little bit nostalgic seeing the beautifully crafted work of Tim Sale decorating the cover of a very well praised book.
I know there are a lot of people who look down on Jeph Loeb. To a lot of people, his once promising career has been sullied by many of his later books. Still, that shouldn’t and doesn’t detract from the quality of this book. It had been a while since I had read this. Like most mystery stories, they don’t really demand to be reread often once the mystery has been solved. However, even though the story and the outcome were familiar, it was still one hell of a ride.
I’m sure most of you know the plot. It’s a “who done it” that revolves around holidays. You may even be able to guess what they call the killer. Loeb makes everyone a subject. The story has been seen before, a few things don’t make much sense, and sometimes Loeb uses cheap gimmicks to get himself out of the corners he’s written. But there is a lot of gold in here. Something that impressed me when I reread it was that, as I mentioned in my review of Haunted Knight, it feels like the Ultimate Batman Universe.
It takes characters and concepts from Batman Year One, but it is in no way a sequel of that classic. No, it’s more of an amalgam of different Batman concoctions mixed together to tell a story set in the early years of Batman. Much like Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, it’s technically an elseworlds tale, yet it feels as though it could exist within the character’s continuity. Also, I think a big help in making this book a modern classic was the art of Tim Sale. Even though this book was produced over a decade ago, it still stands the test of time due to Sale’s prowess. He gives each and every character a unique style that makes them seem new and fresh.
As I mentioned earlier, nostalgia does come into play here. Personally, this was one of the first Batman comics I ever read. That makes it near impossible to give it a negative review. I tried to look at it at the most critical angle I could and it still seems to be a tale worthy of its praise. It’s not flawless, but it is still a lot of fun. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and go slam down twenty bucks for this trade. You’ll be in for a wild ride.