I’d been hearing great things about this the past few years (I’m a late comer to the game, what can I say?) The story is broken up by different holidays, some major and some I basically forget exist until they pop up during the year.
All the stories connect as Batman works with Gordon and attorney Dent to try and figure out who the killer is, as he strikes during the holiday season, setting forth a solid detective battle. They investigate, contemplate, interrogate, make wrong guesses, get shown right ones, and – even better – the reader leaves the series knowing something Batman doesn’t. Not something that happens often. Usually the ‘great detective’ doesn’t get led astray.
The writing is simple and direct, the story working because it shows the background political machinations of Gotham’s crime bosses and their twisted families who go from suspecting each other, fighting each other, to aiding each other. Throw in Batman’s well known villains like The Riddler with his side story that ties into the main one, Joker of course in his crafty goals to ruin holidays for the innocent, Poison Ivy using her seductive charms to reel in victims, and catwoman hopping around never revealing all the cards in her deck. We even get an appearance from Solomon Grundy, who I always had a draw toward since seeing him in animated series.
Truth told, Joker’s story was one of the least impressive and is gotten out of the way early on. Poison Ivy had a starring role at times and ended up surprised me. The Riddler showed himself as a strong villain like always, but as a flawed one too. The story works to show the evolution of Dent as a main character from hero to wacked villain.
The artwork is pulpy and fresh, fitting into the story well. Batman is menacing and a force to be reckoned with. Some of the deaths were surprising, many of them startlingly violent for this type of comic collection. Some of the holiday stories worked better than others, as I mentioned with Joker being weaker, and Mother's Day was particularly brutal - the grimmest of the group on a depressing level with Bruce and his mother memories.
I’m noob level with comics and their stories, so my opinions shouldn’t weigh as much for this stuff as some of my fellow reviewers who have read more of these and know the faithfulness of the character’s stories, but as an outsider looking in I have to say this was a fun read and impressive. It lived up to the hype in my eyes and will be something I’ll re-read in the coming years.