It's no secret that, before he came to comics, Paul Dini worked as a writer in animation on series including Batman: The Animated Series and, before that, Tiny Toon Adventures --- both from the then-resurgent Warner Bros Animation studio. Dark Night, his new graphic memoir detailing a traumatic event from that time in his life, is premised as the Dini of 2016 pitching the story as he might have pitched an animated episode, pinning sketched-out storyboards to a wall before an unseen audience that will have their say when his presentation is over.
The elaborate narrative set-up isn't the only unusual thing about Dini's Dark Night. Unlike the vast majority of comics memoirs, in which the memoirist is also a cartoonist and thus writes and draws the story, this one has the more traditional division of labor/creation of superhero comics, with Dini scripting and artist Eduardo Risso handling the art. And it's also got Batman in it. A lot.
There are few creators in the history of Batman who have had a greater impact on the character than Paul Dini. As one of the showrunners of Batman: The Animated Series, he shaped not only how a generation of television viewers would view Batman, the Joker, and Gotham City's other heroes and villains, but also how the comics would be influenced for decades after the show's launch.
Behind the scenes, though, it seems as though 1993 was a rough year for Dini's relationship with Batman, owing to a violent mugging that left him with a broken skull and his faith in the ideas behind superheroes shattered. Now, as revealed at The Hollywood Reporter, Dini is revisiting that trauma alongside artist Eduardo Risso in a new graphic novel from Vertigo, Dark Night: A True Batman Story.
This week on Comixology, DC has a modest sale built around Harley Quinn, dropping the price on collections for everyone's favorite lovestruck villainess down by a little more than half. It's a pretty weird bunch of comics, too, pulling in everything from her mid-2000s solo series to the more recent New 52 relaunch, and even the digital-first Ame-Comi Girls series.
But down at the very end of the list, there are two collections of comics based on Batman: The Animated Series listed at five bucks each, and folks, if you can find a better deal than paying less than $10 for sixteen of the best Batman stories of the decade, then I want to see it.
Many of comics’ most popular characters have been around for decades, and in the case of the big names from the publisher now known as DC Comics, some have been around for a sizable chunk of a century. As these characters passed through the different historical eras known in comics as the Golden Age (the late 1930s through the early 1950s), the Silver Age (the mid 1950s through the late 1960s), the Bronze Age (the early 1970s through the mid 1980s) and on into modern times, they have experienced considerable changes in tone and portrayal that reflect the zeitgeist of the time.
With this feature we’ll help you navigate the very best stories of DC Comics’ most significant characters decade by decade. This week, we’re taking a look at the best Joker comics.
Debuting in the pages of Hawkman #4 by Murphy Anderson and Gardner Fox this week in 1964, Zatanna is a magician in a science fiction world; a magic user in a shared universe built upon Superman's otherworldly power and Batman's human ingenuity. She is both a “real” magician and a performance magician, as much at home with a genuine mind-wipe as she is with a dove up her sleeve.
On August 3, 1993, a comic came out that would prove to mark a pretty important change for Batman's gallery of foes: Kelley Puckett and Mike Parobeck's Batman Adventures #12. The story within, "Batgirl: Day One" is notable for a lot of reasons --- not the least of which that it's one of the best issues of that original run --- but there's one reason in particular that it'll always be remembered, because that issue marked the first comic book appearance of Harley Quinn.
Originally created for Batman: The Animated Series, Harley would go on to become not just a fan favorite, but the kind of character who would take a tragic, engaging, and occasionally hilarious hook and eventually become one of the core characters of the DC Universe.
When San Diego rolls around next week, it'll be time once again for the Eisner Awards, the comics industry's second-most prestigious honor. The first, of course, is our own ComicsAlliance Memorial Awards, but for some reason, those don't get the press that the Eisners do. Go figure. Point is, DC is celebrating the occasion with a digital sale this week that seems like it's designed to remind you that they've put out a lot of award-winning comics over the past decade. But as always, that comes with an interesting problem, although it's not the one that we usually have when it comes to sifting through the dollar-book sales: In this case, it's pretty likely that you already have this stuff.
I mean, look, if you're the one person still waiting on a price drop to grab All Star Superman, then by all means, get over there, drop the twelve bucks and come back when you want to talk about how great that Jimmy Olsen issue is, but I suspect that if you're reading comics news online, then you probably already have Watchmen in one form or another. There is, however, one title, buried way at the end of the list, and if you don't have it already, it's one you need to pick up: 1994's Batman Adventures Holiday Special.
DC Collectibles has been on a tear as of late, and this year's Toy Fair offerings showed the company had no intentions of slowing down any time soon. From more Batman: The Animated Series figures (and vehicles!) and the all-new Icons series, to incredible prop replicas and a heaping helping of the dangerous Harley Quinn, DC Collectibles unleashed one of its strongest preview offerings in recent memory.
As a fan, I have a pretty complicated relationship with Paul Dini. On the one hand, he's one of the creators of what might be my single favorite thing in the entire world, Batman: The Animated Series, and he's written comics that I genuinely love. That run on Detective Comics, where the Riddler was a Private Eye, where he introduced new characters like the Carpenter? That thing's great. But at the same time, he wrote that story where Hush literally steals Catwoman's heart and holds it for ransom while keeping her alive with a giant heart machine that he built in his garage. I mean, I love "Harley's Holiday" more than most members of my own family, but I also paid good money for Madame Mirage and I'm never getting that back, you know? It's a complicated relationship.
As a result, I approached Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell, the new graphic novel he wrote with artwork by the always amazing Joe Quinones, with a certain amount of trepidation, because I wasn't really sure what I was going to get out of it.
Turns out, this much anticipated book might not be perfect, but it's definitely the kind of Paul Dini story I like and the kind I want to see more of.
Q: What do you think about Harley Quinn? --@Gavin4L
I'll be honest with you, Gavin: Harley Quinn is a tough character to write about. I've been struggling for a long time now trying to figure out how to get started, because there's so much there built around a single character that gets into a lot of tricky, complicated areas, from her almost accidental creation and often mystifying popularity to how much she's changed and been altered in a relatively short period of time, and how you can almost chart the changing aesthetic of the entire company just by looking at a single character. It's a lot to get through, even if you're someone who lived through every bit of it as a fan.
Really, I guess that's as good a starting point as any. What do I think? Well, I like the character a lot, but when you get right down to it, she's one of the most misunderstood and misused characters in all of superhero comics.
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