In June 2016, Vertigo Comics will publish Dark Night: A True Batman Story, a graphic novelby Dini and artist Eduardo Risso. In the style of the Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen Vertigo graphic novel It's a Bird, Dark Night will use the writer's creative relationship to one of DC's iconic characters to explore personal trauma.
In Dini's case, the trauma stems from a violent mugging in 1993. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the mugging left Dini "so bad that parts of his head were shattered – his zygomatic arch, for one — while parts of his skull 'powdered on impact,' according to the doctors."
"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," Dini tells THR. "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."
Dini has worked on Batman and his supporting characters – including his co-creation, Harley Quinn – in multiple incarnations, winning Emmys for his work on Batman: The Animated Series before moving on to writing Detective Comics.
Over the course of the 121-page Dark Night, the Caped Crusader's cast of characters will be featured as "a kind of Greek chorus," whispering in Dini's ears as he struggles to recover from his injuries. Batman becomes a parental figure, criticizing Dini for not escaping his attackers, while the Joker tempts Dini down the path of isolation.
"I'm not saying I talk to cartoon characters all the time, but the characters are very real to me," he explains. "In a very non-insane way."
Look for Dark Night: A True Batman Story from Vertigo in June 2016.