(This review was also posted in my blog: Books and Lesser Evils
Dark Night: A True Batman Story by Paul Dini is a tour de force of one man’s journey from the depths of insecurity and depression to taking charge of his life again. Dini, known for his work as the creator of Harley Quinn and as a driving force behind Batman: The Animated Series, tells the harrowing tale of one night and the consequences that came from it.
Paul Dini, walking home one night is attacked and viciously beaten. As terrible as that night was, what came afterwards was perhaps the most difficult of all. The long and terrifying journey back to the life he once called his and the honest introspection of what had happened and his part in it. The recovery was as much mental as it was physical as Dini very often would listen more to the voices in his head than to those around. Voices that belong to the likes of the Joker, Harley Quinn and the Batman.
Dini tells this tale with brutal honesty. From his own life of sensing he had failed his parents to his loneliness and failed relationships. The one constant in his life has always been his imagination and it is there that he retreats to when times become their worst. As a young boy Dini was often bullied by other school kids. He admits to disliking sports due to all the abuse he took as a child. It was when he would get home and create characters to play with that he was most at peace. These characters in his mind became his true friends. Later as he grew he learned that his imagination and storytelling could support him and he became instrumental in the creation of the Batman: The Animated Series, his greatest claim to fame is perhaps being the creator of the character Harley Quinzel, known as Harley Quinn, the Joker’s girlfriend.
To the outside world, Dini was living a charmed life. A successor career, a beautiful young actress as a girlfriend and popular acclaim. But the reality was he had no girlfriend, the actress a young girl who was using him to move her own career along and after his attack, his storylines taking a much darker turn. As he began to withdraw from everyone, it was the voice of the Batman in his mind encouraging and in turn scolding Dini for his weakness. It was also the Joker taunting him and finally Harley herself, forcing him to look honestly at his life and relationships.
This is a dark but uplifting memoir. A tale of introspection and redemption. How in the worst moments of our lives, our inner strengths and demons battle one another for our souls. For Dini, it was the Batman and Joker.
A terrific and poignant read.