Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for the graphic novel Batman: The Long Halloween and the film Batman: The Long Halloween Part One.
Considered by many to be one of the greatest Batman stories of all time, The Long Halloween is based around a single question: Who Is Holiday, aka The Holiday Killer? The plot of the graphic novel centers around a series of murders targeting associates of the Godfather of the Gotham City mobs, Carmine “The Roman” Falcone. Each of the murders takes place on a major American holiday, leading to the killer being dubbed Holiday by the local press.
The mystery of Holiday’s identity drives the plot of The Long Halloween, which is the nickname Gotham City’s underworld gives to the year in which the story takes place. Batman: The Long Halloween Part One takes its story from the first four chapters of the original 13- part comic book miniseries and details four specific Holiday killings. The first occurred on Halloween, targeting Johnny Viti, Carmine Falcone’s nephew. The second killing, which claimed the lives of the San Ho Hui Triad, occurred on Thanksgiving. The third killing found Carmine Falcone’s personal bodyguard Milos Grapa shot to death on Christmas. The final killing, which took place before Batman and Selina Kyle on New Year’s Eve, saw Alberto Falcone, Carmine Falcone’s son, shot in the chest several times before falling over the side of his father’s yacht and into the freezing waters of Gotham City’s bay.
Fans of the original graphic novel should not be certain they know how the animated adaptation will end with Batman: The Long Halloween Part Two. Warner Bros. Animation has made dramatic changes in adapting other classic Batman stories (most notably in the animated version of Batman: Hush) so there’s a good chance the Holiday Killer might be someone entirely different than in the book. Here’s a rundown of all the major suspects in Batman: The Long Halloween Part One.
Carmine “The Roman” Falcone
Despite most of the Holiday killings being directed towards members of the Falcone mob, there is ample reason to think that Carmine “The Roman” Falcone might have committed the Holiday killings himself as a way of cleaning up his own affairs while throwing suspicion onto his enemies. The first of Holiday’s victims, Johnny Viti, was about to turn State’s Evidence against his uncle and was secretly the star witness of Harvey Dent’s case against Falcone. Similarly, Falcone employed the San Ho Hui Triad, who blew up Harvey Dent’s house on Halloween night. The Triad was killed by Holiday shortly after their leader, Mickey Chen, was questioned by the GCPD.
While Falcone had proven himself more than capable of killing and had ample motive to silence Johnny Viti and the San Ho Hui Triad, it made no sense for him to have been involved with the other two Holiday killings. In the case of the Christmas killing, there was no apparent reason why Falcone might execute his own bodyguard — a fact that Batman noted specifically. It made even less sense for him to target his own son, Alberto, on New Year’s Eve. Beyond that, the events of the movie showed Holiday making his escape from Falcone’s yacht on an inflatable raft, and Falcone was later shown to still be on board when the yacht returned to Gotham Harbor and the police began questioning his guests.
Salvatore “Sal” Maroni
The second-biggest gangster in Gotham City and the chief rival of Carmine “The Roman” Falcone, Salvatore “Sal” Maroni had ample motive to see the Falcone family suffer and was more than capable of killing in cold blood. Batman dismissed him as a suspect, however, saying that while Maroni was certainly ambitious enough to make a play against Falcone, it was more his style to fight directly. Batman also noted that Maroni had already killed many of Falcone’s men in broad daylight and that he was unlikely to utilize the cloak-and-dagger methods Holiday employed. Beyond that, it made little sense for Maroni to kill Johnny Viti, who was about to help Harvey Dent bring down his main competitor.
Carmine Falcone’s sister and the head of the Falcone family’s operations in Chicago, Carla Viti was rumored to be making a play to become the head of the family. Batman believed her to be ruthless enough to commit the Holiday killings. However, as Alfred Pennyworth pointed out while discussing the case with his employer, it beggared belief that a mother, even a criminal one, would begin her power play by killing her own son on Halloween. Additionally, Carla was by her brother’s side when the GCPD were questioning the guests at Falcone’s New Year’s Eve party, which Holiday escaped on a rubber raft. It should also be noted that Holiday appeared to be a tall, skinny man, while Carla Viti was shorter than average and quite curvaceous.
The Clown Prince of Crime was certainly capable of committing the Holiday murders and, unlike the other suspects, Batman considered, did not require any particular motive for carrying them out. However, it is dramatically out of character for The Joker not to take credit for a successful crime once he has committed it — and the Joker is a notorious killer, so it doesn’t make sense for him to adopt another identity to kill people in secret. The Joker himself offered the best argument for his innocence when he pointed out to Batman, who accused The Joker of being Holiday while he was in the middle of his own New Year’s Eve murder spree, “If I were him, why would I be trying to kill him?” Additionally, Joker was presumably still in police custody at the time of the fourth Holiday killing on New Year’s Eve, having been subdued by Batman earlier in the evening.
The fifth and final suspect Batman considered (while admitting he didn’t want to consider him) was District Attorney Harvey Dent, who was obsessed with taking down Carmine Falcone at any cost. The DA even admitted to Batman in private that he was pondering how easy it would be to cross all the lines that separated them from the bad guys. Batman also discovered that Dent had applied for a gun license the previous year, but had been rejected after his mandatory psychiatric evaluation found some “wild aberrations.” Dent also fits the physical profile of the Holiday Killer and was not among the guests of Carmine Falcone’s New Year’s Eve party. However, it makes little sense for Dent to have kicked off Holiday’s reign of terror by killing his own star witness, Johnny Viti.
Alberto Falcone became Batman’s prime suspect in the climax of Batman: The Long Halloween Part One. Batman theorized that Alberto, who had been sent off to study business at Oxford but never brought in to manage the family affairs, had grown resentful of his status as “the good son” and started killing off his father’s allies in a bid to take over the Falcone family. However, as Alberto had told Selina Kyle earlier on New Year’s Eve, he had no interest in his family’s money or power and would gladly have given up any connection to the Falcone name for a chance at a normal life. However, Alberto had apparently lost the only woman who ever loved him because of his father’s efforts to control every aspect of his life, giving him another reason to want to ruin his father’s business affairs as Holiday.
While Alberto was apparently the fourth Holiday victim in Batman: The Long Halloween Part One, it should be noted that his body was still being searched for in the film’s closing moments. The original graphic novel featured a twist that revealed that there were two Holiday killers, with it being suggested that Alberto Falcone had committed the first three killings before being shot by a second party and faking his death, with the second Holiday going on to commit the rest of the killings. This could be changed for the film adaptation, but in any case, Batman will have his hands full unraveling the mystery of The Long Halloween.