Title: Dark Night: A True Batman Story
Writer(s): Paul Dini
Illustrator(s): Eduardo Risso
Release Date: June 21st 2016
Genre(s): Comics, Non-Fiction
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
If there’s anything I’ll forever cherish about my childhood it would be Batman: The Animated Series. Waking up early in the morning to catch the latest episode of Batman’s adventures was my form of religion. Flawless, beautiful and riddled with life lessons, this animated series was the beginning of my love for the Dark Knight. You’d think that my love for that show couldn’t possibly get any bigger, but as the years passed by and a newfound love for comic books surged out of the depths of my heart, I’ve come to appreciate the series on an ever deeper level. From loving the voice actors (Mark Hamill as the Joker and Kevin Conroy as Batman; how could anyone surpass their talents?) to having the greatest respect to the creative crew behind the show, it’s safe to say that there’s nothing that could tarnish my love for this show.
But what does that animated series have anything to do with this graphic novel? I’ll tell you what. They both point straight at Paul Dini. This iconic Warner Bros. Animation producer and writer of shows like Batman: The Animated Series and Tiny Toon Adventures is the man who changed the game in ways only he could. Living the life during a golden era of television screenwriting, there was simply nothing that could stop his mind for pouring out brilliant stories. Known as well as the co-creator of Harley Quinn and the writer behind one of the best Arkham video games ever, Paul Dini was a talent beyond the world’s understanding. With Dark Night: A True Batman Story, he however brings us a personal and powerful autobiography that quickly reminds us about heroism, resilience and redemption.
In this story, Paul Dini offers us a glimpse at his life and career through the lens of a survivor of dark days. Recounting his inspirations and his coping mechanisms to his introverted lifestyle, he takes the time to recount the details of his most significant moments that all led to the unexpected and tragic night where he was savagely beaten and left to rot without any help within sight. Throughout his whole recovery process he is however visited by Batman’s rogues gallery. Their imagined presence isn’t however welcomed with open arms as they amplify the struggles of Paul Dini through a brilliant display of their own observations of what went wrong in his life. It’s how each of these villains subtlety refer to what they are known for (i.e. Scarecrow and his fascination of fear) that highlights the brilliance behind the writing. Paul Dini isn’t however without allies as Batman occasionally appears out of the shadows of his imagination to try and remind him to keep his chin up.
Accompanied by the artwork of Eduardo Risso, which greatly adapts to the storyline’s atmosphere, Paul Dini makes it his mission to deliver the truth with all of its raw strength. This is after all an innocent man who flirted with death when he had done absolutely nothing wrong in his life. For him to survive the tragedy was already a huge enough miracle to his eyes, but what really makes this special is how he came to terms with his past. Even in light of how justice wasn’t on his side, he found in Batman something much bigger than a dealer of fear and a protector of the innocent. What he finds is the power of an idea and its ability to save lives through inspiration and motivation. It’s this road to recovery that deals the greatest punch to the reader and turns this autobiographical graphic novel into such an exquisite story.
Going through all kinds of highs and lows, Paul Dini delivers one of the most chilling and beautiful true story to all fans out there. Showing great courage in even sharing this dark night with us, he easily shows us true resilience and how he found it in him, and in Batman, the answer to getting back up and to keep on moving forward. Dark Night: A True Batman Story is easily a powerful, beautiful and masterful tale of a survivor.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!