Alibi V.25 No.51 • Dec 22-28, 2016 

Comic Reviews

Dark Night

A true Batman story

Dark Night

Dark Night

Paul Dini
Vertigo
128 pages
$16.99

Reality is sometimes much darker then fantasy. Stories turn up all the time that illustrate that life can be so much more grim than we realize on a day-to-day basis. Paul Dini has certainly seen his share of darkness.

Dark Night is a slice-of-real-life comic that takes place during a period in writer Paul Dini's life. Dini is most famous for his writing work on “Batman: The Animated Series” and as being the co-creator of Harley Quinn. All of this information is not only given, but is essential knowledge, as the book takes place in the midst of Dini's work on “Batman.”

In the book, Dini is working for Warner Bros. in Los Angeles when he is viciously attacked. Dini is severely beaten and has to get reconstructive surgery on his face. The book deals not only with Dini's lingering issues—looming long before the attack—but also with the things that Dini is dealing with in the aftermath of the violence. The book is very honest and uncompromising—Dini doesn't try to only paint himself as a victim of violence, instead he makes a point to illustrate that he was no better to himself in a lot of ways than his attackers were.

As for the writing itself, Dini is nothing short of captivating. His honest look back on his life is refreshing and keeps the reader totally enthralled. He makes himself so accessible that it is hard not to relate to him. Also, throughout the book the Batman cast is incorporated into the story very effectively. Dini never loses focus of the voices of the characters he helped to define for a generation.

The art is a master class on panel work and emotion. Eduardo Risso, most famous for his work with Brian Azzarello on 100 Bullets, takes a very elegant approach to this novel. He uses every panel as an opportunity to engage the reader with pitch-perfect imagery, while still helping to move the story forward. He is stark when it is needed, and he is magnetic when it is necessary. Risso is no stranger to Batman, having drawn Broken City for DC years ago. The work here differs though; Risso relies more on depth of color than stark colors with this particular story. There are multiple pages that are painted in warm tones and are meant to feel calm and comfortable. This is in perfect juxtaposition to the pages of the attack, for example, which Risso does in his traditional manner full of heavy contrast and stark line and shadow work. The balance the book strikes in both tone and art may be its biggest triumph.

Dark Night is not just a personal tale of triumph over tragedy, but also an overall success as a narrative. It was a wise choice to make the title a Veritgo story due to its tone; it is yet another must-have in anyone's Vertigo library. Dini and Risso craft an amazing story together involving the Caped Crusader that may overshadow many in which Batman is the main character. All in all, Dark Night is a story that may end up as remembered and enjoyed as Dini's work on the Dark Knight himself.