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Ten Moments that Mattered: Paul Dini's Dark Night: A True Batman Story

Ten Moments that Mattered: Paul Dini's Dark Night: A...

By Jamie S. Rich Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

To make your mark on the future, it helps to take stock of where you’ve been. 2017 promises to be an exciting year for DC and its fans, but before we celebrate the new year, we thought we’d look back on 2016 and consider some of the places we’ve been. DC made some bold choices in the worlds of comics, film and TV, and many of them set our course for the months and years ahead. The past year was full of memorable moments, but some of these moments held real significance. Some of them really mattered. So as we do every year at this time, we thought we’d discuss a few of them. These are DCComics.com’s “Ten Moments that Mattered” for 2016.
 

Super heroes have always been more than fantasy—they’ve been metaphor.

They represent what we wish we could be, and the power of making the right choice even though you have the ability to act more selfishly.

Like mythical warriors and champions before them, they also served as an example. Their struggles and triumphs provided a moral compass. If a young boy who lost his parents to a tragic crime could turn that tragedy around and help others from suffering the same, shouldn’t he?

There’s a lot to admire and much to praise about Paul Dini’s memoir, Dark Night: A True Batman Story, created with artist Eduardo Risso, but the way Paul brings together a real-life event and examines it through the prism of his work on Batman: The Animated Series melds fact and fiction to make all these philosophical and literary conceits tangible. It’s one thing to write stories about a caped crusader swooping in to help common people in peril, but another to have yourself be the person in peril and realize there is no flesh-and-blood equivalent to save you.

It’s a fascinating conundrum. As an author, Paul has created many things that have brought people joy, comfort, and even relief. Yet those things he created are fantasy. They aren’t real.

Through Dark Night, Paul breaks down his experience, the before and after, of being violently mugged and left for dead. The attack causes him to step back and examine his life, including everything he thought was important, such as reputation and material gain. At the same time, he begins to wonder what stories mean, how the fantastic adventures he writes matter in the real world. With characters from Batman: The Animated Series—including Paul’s own co-creation, Harley Quinn—acting as a sort of Greek chorus, Paul delves through his personal pain with a raw honesty rarely seen in comics, and in doing so finds truth and hope.

That act of self-examination alone takes a lot of bravery, but to share it with the world is something else. Dark Night: A True Batman Story leaves Paul Dini utterly exposed. He doesn’t hide his own failings, nor does he shy away from any of the more painful aspects of his situation. Without that kind of honesty, the book would not be as powerful. In reading Dark Night: A True Batman Story, others can find solace, whether they have a common experience of their own to contend with or simply need to find a little courage in an often-difficult world.

At the very least, you can walk away with a new appreciation for how modern myths affect our everyday lives and for how, by example, the fictional caped crusaders in our comics and cartoons might help us be better people in real life.
 

Be sure to check DCComics.com again tomorrow for another moment that mattered in 2016.