Ian: Okay! New week, new column and right away there’s something to address. You would not BELIEVE the hate mail we received when Nuv was running the column solo. It’s crazy! So, I’m back with a vengeance, dear readers. Like last week we’re dry humping Loeb and Sale, but this time with a DC flavour.
Nuv: What Ian left out is that all of that hate-mail was from him under various nerd-ass pen names. Brave! Anyways, on to the important shit…
“I believe in Gotham City.” With those five words and the drowning-in-mood illustration that accompanies them, Batman: The Long Halloween begins. I was hooked. Immediately evoking the first scene in The Greatest Movie of All Time (aka ‘The Godfather‘), I knew this was right up my alley. (Coincidentally, as we speak, peens are right up Ian’s alley.) Combining two of my favourite subjects: superheroes and the Mafia, Loeb and Sale started an epic 13 part mini-series set in Batman’s early days. Not only did they inspire me, but as evidenced by the introduction in the Absolute Edition, they influenced Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer (the men responsible for the big screen exploits of Bruce Wayne) as well.
Ian: Yeah, it’s amazing how much of Nolan’s movies were lifted directly from Long Halloween and Year One. I was a little concerned after the first issue of Long Halloween that it was going to be a generic mob-movie redux, but it really is an insanely good story. Also, it’s fun to look back and see exactly where Tim Sale really put his foot in the door. Like that time I put my foot in Nuv’s ass; Sale really runs a clinic.
Nuv: By ‘foot’ Ian meant ‘mom’s tongue.’ The script is strong throughout, but with a lesser artist, it could’ve been a disaster. Sale totally plays the Coppola to Loeb’s Puzo. Some people have a problem with his odd, stylized faces. I have a problem with their odd, stylized faces.
Ian: Well, it’s kinda true that Sale still hadn’t perfected his faces at this point. Much like your face, they’re a little wonky at times and the bodies are somewhat inconsistent. Selina Kyle / Catwoman is drawn differently in just about every panel, and her overall design is not that great. It’s remarkable that Sale had almost every kink ironed out by the time Batman: Dark Victory came out two years later.
Nuv: I actually wasn’t dissing Sale’s faces. I was dissing the faces of the people dissing Sale’s faces. On cue: Ian disses Sale’s faces. Even he agrees with me that he is a vile, loathsome dick.
Ian: Let’s get to the controversial point here. Dark Victory is a million times better than Long Halloween. I said it in front of Tim Sale and the man agreed. That makes it two against the world! Where do you stand sir? I will be satisfied!
Nuv: Satisfy yourself, Creepshow! If we’re talking art, absolutely. Some of the greatest covers ever, each showcasing a different character. If we’re talking story, that’s Sophie’s Choice. Much like ‘The Dark Knight,’ this sequel is all about escalation. Basically involving the entire stable of villains, and bringing in Robin in a way that is actually pretty awesome instead of f@¢%ing irritating like other stories that revolve around children. (Instant street cred to any one that offs that puke-farm Jake Lloyd.) All of that is awesome. At its core though, TLH shared another similarity with ‘The Dark Knight’ that edges it ahead: it revolves around Harvey Dent. Both in the film and TLH, he has one of my personal favourite character arcs ever. Watching the heart of a story be ripped out, stomped on, and then brought back, scarred and twisted, is pretty damn riveting.
Ian: What the what? Everything about Dark Victory is better! The art goes without saying, but I really enjoyed the story a lot more too. It had so many great scenes! That crazy sequence in issue #4 where Batman and Solomon Grundy are fighting it out in the sewer, the Jim Gordon-led bust of Two-Face…hell! Even the Robin story is done so well that – possibly for the first time – readers could actually understand what Batman was thinking in taking him on as a partner. Unlike that time you took your Mom to the prom, everyone in THIS story comes off cooler than cool. (Also, did we just put a bounty on the head of Jake Lloyd?)
Nuv: Ha! We sure did. And I do love Dark Victory. The photo finish just shows Two-Face’s origin beating Robin’s by a nose. Your mom beats EVERYBODY by a nose. That shit is so big she can smell you through the internet…
Ian: Let’s take a page from everyone that gets to know Nuv and move on without warning. Catwoman: When in Rome is officially a sequel to Long Halloween and Dark Victory, but more importantly it’s a super foxy excuse for Tim Sale to show everyone how well he came to draw Ms. Selina Kyle (pin-up style, of course). And YOWZA! Does he ever kill it! The stuff beween Selina and The Riddler is laugh-out-loud funny. I honestly love everything about this super cute mini-series.
Nuv: …the f@¢k? “Super CUTE?” …Cut the shit, Hannah Montana, and talk about SuperMAN For All Seasons. I’m sure our readers can all guess where I stand on it, so before I chime in, let’s hear from someone who prefers blind-losers-who-keep-getting-their-girlfriends-murdered to the first/greatest superhero…
Ian: Superman For All Seasons is the perfect Christmas present for old folks who love Norman Rockwell and ol’ timey sarsaparilla from the malt shop. Just jokes! I think the most surprising thing about this series is that Nuv insists on reading it naked. it revolves around the most powerful superhero that has ever been, but Sale chose to draw him like a big lumbering farmboy. And what’s more, the book is packed with huge sky vistas and flowing capes and dresses all done in watercolour.
Nuv: Yeah. His skies are retardedly good. Some motherf@¢%ers prefer them to actual skylines. In fact, nature itself plays just as big a role in this as Supes. Each of the four chapters takes place during a season (spring, summer, fall, winter) and the elements are in full force here. The tornado sequence (directly lifted by ‘Smallville‘) is just bananas! Pa Kent’s narration in that sequence has one of my two favourite lines in the book: “But, I believe, in the wild trouble of that moment… our son… became a man.” F@¢k yeah, Loeb! Each of the four books is narrated by someone key in Clark’s life. Pa does Book One, and the other three are covered by all of the important LL’s (except Cool J) – Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Lana Lang. My…
Ian: Holy Christ! It has never occurred to me that the main characters in Superman’s life all have the initials L.L. How did I miss something like that?! Like your facial hair at the best of times, ridiculous!
Nuv: I wish your mom had interrupted the pregnancy the way you just interrupted me. My second favourite line comes when Superman rescues a kid from falling to his death. The kid says: “Wow! Cool costume.” Supes replies: “Thanks. (Page turn to splash of Supes floating over the kid, with a whimsical, knowing look on his face) My mom made it for me.” I’ve seen that look before. On Christopher Reeves’ face.
Ian: it’s hard to read or watch anything involving Superman without thinking of Christopher Reeves, but I suppose it’s all part of a bigger picture. I guess what I’m saying is that The Man of Steel really has become a genre unto himself. It’s hard to read or watch anything involving Nuv without nausea.
Nuv: Another moment reminiscent of ‘Superman: The Movie‘ is early in Book One, when he races the train. Train moment two comes in Book Three when he stops a train head-on in a full-page splash. Sale silently showcases his power in a majestic, humbling way throughout this book, but nowhere as perfectly as in that one image. The way the train’s metal nose crumples and recoils at his touch shows precisely how powerful he is in a poster-worthy manner. Train moment three comes every Thursday at Mama Explosivo’s house…
Ian: Well old dick, you’ve really gone and done it! You’ve filled up the whole internet with your words and now our article must come to an end out of necessity. There are few universal truths in this life and they are as follows: Death, taxes, the fact that Loeb & Sale are goddamn geniuses, Nuv is a dong-hole, and I am awesome. That is all you need to know.
Nuv: You’re a former hooker.
Put two in the air…
– The Big Two
[Editor's note: for completists, Loeb/Sale's other DC collaborations are Batman: Haunted Knight, Challengers of the Unknown Must Die! and one of the shorts in Solo #1.]
NEXT ISSUE: WHEN WIVES ATTACK! IAN AND NUV ARE SENT TO THEIR RESPECTIVE COUCHES, AND THE BIG FOUR TAKEOVER!
TUNE IN: SAME VENUS-TIME, SAME MISS-TEEN-USSR-CHANNEL!