In the 1990s, writer Paul Dini had a flourishing career penning the hugely popular "Batman: The Animated Series" and "Tiny Toon Adventures." It was a golden era of television screenwriting, and Dini and his fellow writers were at the forefront of the glittering Hollywood scene. In one night, everything would change.
Walking home one dark evening, Dini was jumped and viciously beaten. With several broken bones and a shattered face, Dini's recovery process was arduous, hampered by the imagined antics of the villains he was writing for television, including the Joker, Harley Quinn and the Penguin. But despite how bleak his circumstances were, or perhaps because of it, Dini also always imagined the Batman at his side, constantly chivvying him along during his darkest moments.
So reads the back cover blurb of the excellent new autobiographical graphic novel from celebrated Batman creator, Paul Dini.
Dini himself serves as his story's narrator, taking the reader from his earliest days of fandom to his time working as a screenwriter. He takes us inside his geek sanctuary. He tells us of his unsatisfactory love life. In short, he makes us care about Paul Dini, not as a character in his own story, but as a person.
Then Dini is attacked. The violent encounter is told from Dini's first person point of view. That's when the story goes from lightweight to achingly, painfully personal.
Dini's slow slide into despair, his shockingly intimate revelations and his road to recovery are all dealt with in a way that lets the reader feel as much of the writer's pain as possible at their remove.
Through it all Dini is plagued by the characters he writes. Each member of Batman's Rogues gallery appear to chastise, threaten and belittle Dini. Batman makes frequent appearances as he attempts to get Dini to pull himself up by his own bootstraps. Of course, these are just the voices in Dini's head, but they are given familiar faces because of Dini's work.
The artwork by Eduardo Russo (100 Bullets
) is a perfect compliment to Dini's harrowing storytelling. The villains are scarier when rendered by his pen. Then again, so is Batman.
Everyone has coping mechanisms. Dini's just happen to be pop culture canon. What Dark Night
does so ably is show the reader that no matter what happens, you can overcome if you harness that little piece of Batman that lives in us all.
I can't recommend Dark Night: A True Batman Story
Read this book!
Dark Night: A True Batman Story
is available now.