Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.
This is a reread for me, I like to pull it out every Halloween despite the fact that, well, it's not very good. Let me rephrase that: it's not as good as it should be. Sale's artwork's is wonderfully Gothic, strange and so evocative, with Gotham's seasonally stormy night skies consistently dumping rain on three different Halloween stories.
The first tale is "Fears," and it's sort of a mess. For absolutely no reason, the Scarecrow recites nursery rhymes as he lobs his fear gas at the unsuspecting citizens of Gotham. Meanwhile, Bruce falls for a mysterious stranger who winds up being a black widow and something of a red herring, and though it's supposed to say something about Bruce's personal state of mind, his fears of having a wife or family, I suppose, there's no emotional connection or weight to it. And it only vaguely relates to Halloween--Bruce keeps referring to it as 'Halloween Weekend,' as if that's a thing. Hey, let's make it a thing! I'm going to start campaigning for Halloweekend!
The second story is "Madness," and features the Mad Hatter doing... stuff? Barbara gets kidnapped by him on Halloween, after sneaking out to do... I don't know, that's never necessarily clear. You'd think a teenager who desperately wanted to go out on Halloween would at least have friends or a destination in mind. Instead, she hangs out in the park until she's grabbed and made to play Alice, where she behaves stupidly obstinate with a madman. Meanwhile, Bruce waxes about how the Hatter is ruining childhood memories of his mother reading him Carroll's original novel. And the whole thing features the idea that Babs is Jim and Barbara's nice and adopted daughter, one of the stupidest retcons that has ever been made, and I'm glad it's gone again.
By far the best tale is the last, "Ghosts." Who doesn't love a Christmas Carol retelling, and one using both Batman and Halloween seems strange correct. It's also the shortest, consisting of only one part/issue, and while that might give it an advantage over the others, I can't help but feel disappointed that the one I enjoyed the most is the most rushed.
So, it's fun, and worth it for the art alone. And if you like Batman, it can, like it has for me, become an annual tradition. But held up against other Sale/Loeb collaborations, it stumbles terribly.