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Dark Night: A True Batman Story (DC Comics, 2016; OGN)

Dark Night.jpeg

In the early '90s—when he was working on Batman: The Animated Series—a couple of muggers beat up Paul Dini. In Dark Night, Dini tells the story of that night and his recovery.  As he processes the physical and emotional effects, he imagines the Batman and his rogues taunting him about the events of that night.

Working through trauma and anxiety is the crux of of Dark Night.  It’s not just about the night itself, though; as Dini tries to work through why such a random thing would happen to him, he begins to look at the reasons why he was in the place he was.  He relates it to pride, to self-destructive habits, to elements he could control.  It becomes about the difficulty of accepting random tragedy without blaming himself while also recognizing and addressing accumulated anxieties and even tendencies for self-harm that he has pushed down over the course of his life.  Dini’s narrative style is deceptively simple, but by the end of the story he has incorporated a number of complex, emotional ideas in a natural, relatable way.

Color, texture, and expression drive Eduardo Risso’s art in this book.  He employs a number of different looks and styles throughout the story to help track what happens in different points in time and what comes from Dini’s imagination.  Risso’s focus on expression helps to underscore a personal story about denial and processing emotion.

Dark Night is not your typical narrative-driven comic.  While it does tell a story, it reads more like a confession or testimony.  It is from one, real person’s perspective.  He serves as his own narrator from now, looking back on what happened with decades’ experience since.  While Dini’s tale seems pretty straightforward, it does cover some complicated territory.  In that, it’s not unlike It’s a Bird…, although Dark Night feels less fictionalized.  It’s a memoir-style comic with a focus on mental health, and if that sounds interesting to you, it’s worth reading.

Collected in

  • Dark Night: A True Batman Story (OGN)

Credits

Writer: Paul Dini | Artist: Eduardo Risso | Letterer: Todd Klein | Logo Designer: Chip Kidd

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