BATMAN & JOKER
BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN (DC DIRECT)
“An epic tale of mystery and suspense that takes Batman deep into the underworld of Gotham City.”
Well, we’re firmly a week into November. Perfect timing for me to have *just* missed Halloween in order to properly theme what I’m about to review. Yes, I’m jumping into the world of Batman: The Long Halloween, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s year-long miniseries following an early in his career Batman as he tracks down Holiday, a serial killer who strikes once a month on a holiday. While on his quest to find the killer, Batman also manages to face down most of his major rogues gallery, making it a nice, all-encompassing Batman story, and certainly one of the best out there. It’s distinctive style, and the fact that it includes so many heavy hitters made it a perfect choice for a toy line. Today, I’m delving into the heaviest of hitters, Batman and the Joker.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Batman and The Joker were released as a special collector’s set from DC Direct in 2008, after they’d completed their main Long Halloween and Dark Victory lines. The set included the two figures and some stripped down accessories, as well as a trade paperback of The Long Halloween.
Tim Sale’s Batman is a rather distinctive piece, and the chance to own it in three dimensions was one of the primary selling points of the first Long Halloween line. It was so popular that it sold out the first time, so they just did a straight re-issue of it when it came time for the figures from Dark Victory…and then that one pretty much did the same thing. So, this guy was the third pretty much straight re-release of this figure, although this one did get a new head sculpt out of it. He’s almost 7 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation. It’s not a ton of posability, but it’s enough to get a few decent poses out of him. The real weakness of the joints, I’d say, is the shoulders, which don’t really have much up and down. This means he’s always just got them sort of jutting out to the sides like that. Given Sale’s tendency to draw Bruce in rather dynamic poses while in costume, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s somewhat limiting. In terms of the actual sculpt, Sale’s artwork proved a little difficult for DCD to translate into 3D. His style is somewhat impressionistic, and he likes to keep his characters fluid, so getting them really nailed down in a single sculpt is tricky. That’s definitely the case with Batman, who ends up looking close to Sale’s work to be sure, but there’s something…off. The face in particular seems a bit out of place. It’s a little bit pinched, I think, and almost too simian for the character. It’s not far off, and definitely a marked improvement over the two single releases, but it’s still not quite there. The other piece that seems to have given them trouble is the cape. Sale always had Bruce’s cape all over the place, and he liked for it to be really long. This figure aims to capture that, with a cape that trails behind and even lays on the ground at the back. It’s not terrible, but the shaping doesn’t quite seem right here. In this case, it’s really a matter of fighting with gravity, and it’s hard to fault DCD there. The paint work on this guy remains pretty much the same as the two prior releases. It’s black and grey, with just a touch of brown, which is to say it’s exactly what you’d expect from a standard Batman. It’s pretty cleanly handled, and there’s no notable issues with mine, so I’m calling it a win in my book. Batman includes a batarang with a line on it (which is the Dark Victory release) and a simple display stand with the book’s name printed on it. I do miss the cool sidewalk stands that came with the single releases, but it’s fairly minor.
Joker’s an interesting choice for inclusion here. I mean, yeah, he’s definitely Batman’s most distinctive foe and all, and his appearance in the book is a notable one, but beyond being the Joker, he’s not that prominent. Two-Face and Catwoman are both far more plot relevant, and would have made for a more sensible second. But, at the end of the day, DCD was hard pressed to say no to another Batman/Joker pairing, especially one the same year as The Dark Knight…which, of course, also had Two-Face in a prominent role, making his inclusion the more logical–nope, I’m spiraling again. Stop it, Ethan. What’s done is done. This figure stands again just shy of 7 inches tall and he has again 13 points of articulation. In terms of movement, Joker is even more static than Batman, largely because he’s far more pose-specific than Batman. He’s patterned on a specific visual from the comic, which was more important for the single release of the figure, since it more tied in with that figure’s accessories. Whatever the case, it’s got him in sort of a mid-stride appearance, which is a little tricky to work with, since it makes him rather hard to get standing. I was mentioning above how Sale’s characters are very fluid; well, going by that method, his Joker is fully liquified. He goes for the height of expressiveness, and that means he’s really hard to nail down in three dimensions. Because of this, his sculpt is probably the weakest of the whole set. It’s not bad, and when viewed from the right angle, it actually looks really cool. The profile in particular is really killer. It’s just not great for posing, and looking too closely at the internal proportions is bound to drive you batty, and not in the thematically appropriate way. Joker’s paint work marked quite a change from the prior release, with a few changes to the actual color palette. This is actually a case of DCD making good use of a second release of a mold, as Joker’s colors shift later in the series. His single release matches the earlier appearance, while this one’s more of an end of the series look. This release also cleans up the application a bit more, especially on the face, which is now a much cleaner end product. The accessories are where this guy really takes a hit compared to the single. He gets his gun and a display stand, but loses the santa hat and bag of gifts from the original. While I get why they were cut, it’s still a little sad that they aren’t here.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I hadn’t yet read Long Halloween when DCD first released figures from it. By the time I got around to reading it (and loving it, because boy do I love it), all of the figures, including this pack, had disappeared. I’ve had my eye out for a set of them for a bit, but never really went to the trouble of tracking them down. This pair came into All Time as part of a rather large collection a few months ago, and they were at the right price at the right time, so I was definitely on board. These two were probably the weakest of DCD’s Sale-based figures, but that doesn’t make either one of them a bad figure at all. In fact, I really quite like them, and I’m happy to finally be making my way through this set of figures.