Simon Dark #12


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Simon Dark #12


  • Words: Steve Niles
  • Art: Scott Hampton
  • Inks: Scott Hampton
  • Colors: Daniel Vozzo
  • Story Title: Down the Rabbit Hole
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Sep 10, 2008

It all comes down to the wire and Simon must make a choice – save himself, save his friends, or save Gotham.

Steve Niles’ attempts to bring a lighter horror title to the mainstream DC Universe has been rather a mixed bag. Simon Dark is probably one of his most fully realized stories but that does not mean that it ends up making total sense.

Simon has reached the final confrontation with the "Mayor" of Gotham City. The Mayor offers Simon a devil’s bargain – Simon can go to work for him and preserve his own life and that of his friends… but Gotham will be destroyed, or he can save the lives of his friends and the neighborhood he has protected… but the rest of Gotham and Simon himself will die, or he can save Gotham as a whole but his friends, neighborhood, and himself will all perish. Does Simon have the power to instead forge another choice for himself?

It has taken 12 issues to really wrap this opening story arc up and, in the end, I’m still not sure I understood it all. Thinking back over the series it feels as though the story really could have been told in about half the time. The whole plot never seemed to quite gel together either as motive, means and opportunity of the cultists came across as rather a flimsy afterthought – merely an excuse for Niles to give his Pinocchio/Frankenstein’s Monster modern update character something to do. None of the rest of the cast ever seemed to move much beyond ciphers either. Overall, if the story had been shorter and perhaps a little less meandering it might have come into focus.

The art provided by Scott Hampton has probably been some of the saving grace for the series. His misty, sooty feeling, pencils have a kind of watercolor appearance to them. His landscapes truly feel Gothic – like Victorian London in a pea soup fog or like something out of an old vampire movie. He also blends the ordinary characters with extraordinary monsters and situations with such a straightforward approach it makes the outré even more outstanding.

It is obvious that Niles has been experimenting here – trying to go outside the usual well-worn pathways of vampires and zombies – but in the process he has given readers something that has stepped so far off the path that there is nothing to relate to. If one is going to create a whole new bugbear of necromancy and dark forces then one needs to make sure that all the rules and regulations are firmly set out so that the reader can understand them and that is something Simon Dark has failed to do. The series may be forging on to a new path but this reviewer is tired of hacking through the weeds.

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