Legendary writer Paul Dini—known for his work on Batman: The Animated Series, Tiny Toon Adventures, Justice League and countless other shows—is returning to DC to pen a whole new graphic novel for the Dark Knight. The twist, however, is that Batman isn’t the lead character: Dini is, as he recalls trauma from his own past.
Revealed today by The Hollywood Reporter, Dark Night: A True Batman Story (drawn by Eduardo Risso) will recall a night in 1993 where Dini was mugged and savagely assaulted by two men in Los Angeles while walking home. Dini suffered some severe injuries—the zygomatic arch in his skull was shattered—and was hospitalized after the attack.
Dark Night will retell the story of Dini’s mugging, but look forward to the weeks of recovery after it, imagining Batman and his Rogues’ Gallery as a sort of Greek chorus to his healing process. Dini describes Batman as “a blunt parental figure” who chides the young man for not fighting back and escaping from his assailants, while the Joker nudges him to retreat to his apartment and to avoid trying to reintegrate into the wider world:
What makes Batman and what makes other superheroes work is the myth that when life is at its lowest, and when you need a hero, a hero swings down and helps you. And I didn’t have that.
Here I am writing these stories for an audience that loves this form, in comics, in animation, but now I was saying to myself, ‘I can’t go on with this. I don’t believe in it anymore. There is no hero for me. Where is my hero?’
The answer is: you have to be your own hero.
It sounds like a remarkably personal book for Dini, and quite unlike your typical Batman book. But at the same time, it sounds like a fascinating exploration of how people interact with characters they admire and seek comfort from, and the thought of Risso and Dini exploring that together is definitely a tantalizing one.
Dark Night: A True Batman Story will be released through DC’s Vertigo imprint in June of next year.