On New Year's Eve the Joker intends to release his gas on Gotham Square at midnight, killing the crowd and hopefully Holiday. To that end the Joker has hijacked a plane and killed the flight crew. Batman arrives just as the Joker is taking off and hitches onto the plane.
As Batman fights with the Joker in mid-air, Harvey Dent is working late on the Holiday case. Just as he is leaving, his new assistant Vernon comes in with new information on the Roman case. He has searched old police files and discovered a connection between Carmine Falcone and Bruce Wayne
On Carmine's yacht in Gotham Harbor, the Roman is talking with Maroni during the New Year's party Carmine is hosting. Sal says that the Holiday killings have been bad for business and that they should put aside their differences to put an end to it. But Carmine subtly suggests that Maroni might be behind Holiday, using as evidence the fact that the hits have all been on members of the Falcone family. Then while Carmine is talking with Carla, she points out his tendency to surround himself with enemies. Carmine's response implies that she too could be counted among that number. Carla stomps off to go out on deck, just in time to see Alberto fall overboard, shot by Holiday.
Harvey arrives home, apologizing to Gilda for his lateness. She notes his hair is wet despite the fact that he was wearing a hat. Harvey enters the living room to find the Gordons there to celebrate New Year's with them, but Harvey heads off for the kitchen. Jim follows, leaving Gilda and Barbara to discuss the possibility of the Dents having children. Gilda however feels like it's a lost cause, since Harvey is always working. Barbara tells Gilda that business is a taboo subject that evening, but in the kitchen Harvey and Jim are discussing Harvey's recent discovery about Bruce Wayne.
And high above the city, just as the clock strikes midnight, Batman pummels the Joker and aims the plane toward the harbor. At the last possible moment he grabs the Joker and leaps to the nearby clock atop a skyscraper. The plane harmlessly splashes down into the water and Gotham is saved.
Page 3--Batman must be really tired. He only arrives after Joker has taken off already. But the Joker, once he had the plane and had killed the crew, had to take the time to attach the tanks full of his deadly gas to the bottom of the plane, but also paint the front of it too. Both of those things must have taken him quite a while to do, so either Batman's informant led him on a wild goose chase first or Batman needs to eat his Wheaties. (And since when have you heard of a crop duster having a flight crew?)
Page 4, panel 4--Batman tells us here that the Joker has proclaimed: "The town isn't big enough for two homicidal maniacs." Since last issue (last week for Batman) the Joker said these words to Harvey when the two of them fought in his new house, Harvey must have told Batman about the break-in. Seems a little uncharacteristic to me that Harvey would do that, since it would have to include him coming out and saying that the Joker accused him of being Holiday.
First of all, when does this scene take place? Logically Batman's fight with Joker in mid-air must take place a short time before midnight, and it must also be a rather brief exchange. Here we see Harvey in his office working, and in later pages of this issue he'll have time to make it home to Gilda (and the Gordons) long before midnight. So this scene must take place BEFORE the previous few pages.
Numerous references to Harvey's duality here. In panel two, he makes mention of only having half a brain. (Two-Face has the other half and together they make a whole.) In panel five, he explains to Vernon that there are "two ways of looking at everything." We call this foreshadowing.
I love that our introduction to Vernon on this page occurs in shadow. In panel three we see his shadow on the wall and in panel four we see him in silhouette. But we never really see him on this page, just shadows, thus reminding us that he does not walk on the side of the angels.
Page 6--About the evidence that Vernon uncovers here... Harvey later in issue eight asks Alfred on the witness stand why Thomas Wayne didn't file a report about the incident that led to his connection with Falcone. So we know that this report Vernon has given Harvey must not come from the police reports like Vernon says here on panel three. So where did it come from? Most likely, this info came from Vernon's real boss Maroni. For what purpose? Either to force Bruce into helping with the money situation (which Carmine will take care of on his own in the next two issues) or to instigate problems for Falcone. I like to believe the latter. Since Maroni will later find out that he has been targeted as the weak link, maybe this was a way to redirect attention away from him and towards Falcone. (And yet another reference to two in Harvey's dialogue in the last panel, about him being the SECOND to know.)
Page 7--Panel one's caption tells us it's almost midnight, but the final panel gets more specific than that. The clock in the background shows six 'til. (On the next page it will have switched over to five 'til.)
Maroni's arm is in a cast here because Batman twisted it too hard just a week ago on Christmas Eve.
We should be able to see Carmine's ring on his middle finger of the right hand in panel three, but it's not there.
Page 13--As Alberto is being shot here, we see Carla come onto the deck lighting a cigarette in panel two, her hands showing (you can see her rings). In panel three, Holiday is wearing gloves. Therefore the theory Batman gives us in issue seven that Holiday might be Carla we know is not true.
Page 15 & 16--I love the way Tim gives us some information in these two pages. First look at the way Jim and Barbara are standing in panel three of page 15. They are right in front of the fireplace, holding their glasses of champagne with the bottle on the mantle. Then on page 16 in panel one, Jim has gone after Harvey. Apparently between panels both he and Barbara put their glasses down on the mantle and Barbara removed her hat. Then by panel three of that page Barbara has picked up the glasses and is handing one to Gilda. This technique is one Scott McCloud outlines in his excellent book Understanding Comics, calling it closure. The mind perceives the whole even though we've only been given brief glimpses. Jeph and Tim use this technique a lot in their work (another example I can think of is Selina's burnt hand in DV #1, which tells us that she had been listening in at Sofia's and got slightly electrocuted earlier). It really is a great piece of storytelling, as it trusts the readers to fill in all the gaps and puts the responsibility for the story in our laps.
(and did you notice that the stockings, which were hung over the fireplace in last issue, are already gone only a week later? Gilda sure is becoming a homebody!)
Jim's hat removal, like Barbara's on the previous page, happens between the gutters here.
Harvey's face half in shadow in the last panel is more foreshadowing. It shows Harvey's anger and betrayal at what he has learned about Bruce but that he will also act justly on what he has found (since it's the good half of his face that we can see)
Page 18--Between page 10 and page 18, Batman had time to climb back up from the tail of the plane to the middle.
Page 22--Some might feel Batman is a little premature in his final statement that the promise he made to his parents to rid Gotham of evil might be within reach. Holiay is still on the loose. But, Batman did just save the lives of half a million people. How would you feel after that? I'm betting you'd be a little cocky too.
In the back of the trade paperback of TLH, DC includes two sections of the mini (totaling four fully scripted and penciled pages) that were cut from the original issues. One section would have consisted of two pages that would have been pages 23 and 24 of this issue. They take place on Jan. 6, "Little Christmas," according to a caption. Here we would have seen Jaspar Dolan, the Gotham City Coroner, lead Carmine to a body he had found on the shore of the harbor. The face of the body had been eaten away by seagulls but the coroner identified it as Alberto. Carmine then collapsed to his knees next to the body and wept, holding the corpse.