As one of the key writers, if not the main guy on Batman: the Animated Series, Paul Dini will always hold a revered place in the hearts of all Batman fans. With the TV show having been over for over a decade, Dini has been giving Bat-fans their fix in the pages of Detective Comics. The stories he’s been doing don’t break Batman’s back or kill him or even really effect the rest of the DCU, so it could slip under the radar for some, but rest assured these are some of the best Batman stories to come out in years. I guess solid, old fasion good story telling is just too hard to hype!
Here is a rundown of all of his work to date, which is handy since all of the tradepaperbacks are individually named and not numbered.
Dini’s run on Detective starts on issue 821 where he lays down a simple guideline to his work. He’ll be telling much shorter stories than most writers do these days and this is especially important to his run. The first six issues are collected into a book called simply; Batman: Detective. Within the book, the six issue run collects six separate stories that all tie up and are self contained. This is super rare nowadays when it’s really hard to tell a really good story in twenty-two pages. Not only does Dini achieve this, but many of the stories are mysteries and all are brilliant. Dini works with different artists throughout including J.H.Williams III. One of the book’s highlights is the last story; a Christmas tale of one night that Robin is out on patrol and is caught by the Joker, tied to the passenger seat of the Joker’s car and then forced to watch as he mows down random civilians. Classic! This book is a great starting point for everyone as is an easy recomendation since you get six stories for the price of one.
The second book; Batman: Death in the City follows much the same format and is just as good. The book collects eight issues, still telling sick stories. The artists are now narrowed down to two, Don Kramer and Andy Clarke who do an excellent job. He introduces a new ventriloquist for one of Batman’s old rogues; Scarface and tells a Harley Quinn story as well. Most of Dini’s stories delve deeply into Batman’s rich cast of characters and this is no different featuring Zatanna, Harley and the Joker as well as introducing new villains like the mad bomber Vox. Only two stories deviate here from his single issue strategem and even they are only two-parters.
As his run continues Dini is roped into a multi-title crossover collected in a book called “the Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul“. The trade paperback collects issues from Detective Comics as well as Batman, Robin and Nightwing. Each writer pens his own title even throuout this story which gives the book an uneven flow, the best parts are written by Dini and Morrison while the other chapters come across as more pedestrian. Even though “Resurrection” has some fun parts, it isn’t really indicative of the rest of Dini’s run.
“Batman: Private Casebook” is the next volume in Dini’s run. It has six issues and a Halloween short story within it’s pages and only one of the stories is a two-parter. This is the first book where it starts to feel like you might want to have read previous stories. There are still some good one-offs but it also continues the story of the new Ventriloquist and Batman’s relationship with Zatanna as well as an epilogue to “Resurrection” and a closing to “The Suit of Sorrows” story. Unlike previous books that feature multiple artists, this book only has one immaculate artist, the incomparable Dustin Nguyen who’s simple and clean lines are a perfect match for Dini’s words.
The last book in Dini’s Batman run on Detective is “Heart of Hush“, the long anticipated sequel to Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee‘s Hush story. There was another book that should have been the sequel entitled “Hush Returns” but it literally has no ending to it. It fits between the two but was nothing but a disapointment until Dini closed the book on the story. It is all one story but is well worth it.
Although “Heart of Hush” is indeed the last Batman book that will get collected from Dini’s “Detective Comics” run, he still continues to write in the Bat-world having started two new titles; “Gotham Sirens” and “Streets of Gotham“. Both take place after Batman’s death in current continuity. “Gotham Sirens” in particular is an interesting idea; the sirens in the title are none other than Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and Catwoman in a psuedo superteam of sorts. Neither title has enough issues out to be collected as of the publishing date of this article, but rest assured, if Dini’s name is on it, you’ll likely see it covered on the site.
For other recommended Paul Dini reading, check out Madame Mirage. The book has insanely great artwork and is complete in one book.