A murder on halloween kicks off a year of murders in the mafia family. It is a year where almost all well known batman characters are instantiated; the killings continue every subsequent holiday. Batman is trying to catch the killer, but as in all the best batman-stories he is really just the path that the mystery walks upon.
The story is well drawn, and incredibly well crafted. Loeb and Sale play with story telling techniques brilliantly executing some of the best themes throughout Batman; the trope of the father figure and the constant trust issues that appear when every new lead in the case points to someone else. Sometimes the holidays are an exploration into an obvious theme. I especially enjoyed Mother’s day where we get a rare glimpse into Bruce’s relationship with his mother. This was of course completely overshadowed by father’s day where Thomas Wayne is made out to be a central character, besides being heroic and handsome and rich and frankly a bit overplayed.
The book navigates swiftly between the darkness that is the broody batman and the brightness of the small happy moments that do exist in Gotham. The book never becomes too dark, while still playing with dark themes of love, betrayal, infertility and friendship; and while women are never prominently featured in Batman-comic Hilda and Barbera have a wonderful little friendship that plays its part in tying the book together.
The killer, clumsily named Holiday, weaves in and out of the story. I found my self eager to discover the next page where a new person would appear to divulge their troubles. I was kept constantly guessing following blind alleys and sometimes forgetting that a killer was even what we were trying to catch – as always it is the characters that make the bat verse worth visiting. And as immensely as I enjoyed the book, the most wonderful surprise was that the actual revelation of the killer was a surprise as well.
If you’ve never really read comics this is a great place to start.