Simon Dark #1: What Simon Does
by Steve Niles, Scott Hampton (DC Comics, 2008)

Simon Dark is a jigsaw boy, a character whose mind seems as fragmented and spliced together as his body. Wearing a boyish patchwork mask and a Freddy Krueger sweater, the character is a good bit darker and more mysterious than your average comic-book hero -- as you might expect from the fertile mind of 30 Days of Night creator Steve Niles.

Simon lurks about the ruins of a burned-out church and protects the innocent from criminals when the opportunity arises -- but his good deeds often seem more a factor of chance than intent, and he isn't above caging a few bucks for food from the people he rescues. He makes his home in Gotham, but this isn't the world of the Batman, who -- by his very absence from this book -- seems completely unaware of this new vigilante at work in his city. (That in itself is odd, since one of the criminals Simon faces is a child-killer, and children in danger are never off the Batman's radar.)

Simon himself appears to be the product of both science and dark magic, although he himself seems unsure of his past. Stranger still, he seems to have interchangeable heads, since he looks quite different each of the rare times his mask comes off. Perhaps for that very reason, he is naively unaware that severing someone's head from their body is, for most people, a fatal condition.

Simon Dark is certainly an unusual book, and it's certainly nice to see Niles branching out from his usual fare of vampires and zombies. Art by Scott Hampton is appealingly unsettling.

I'm not ready to declare this book a winner just yet, but I'm curious to see what Niles has in mind next.

review by
Tom Knapp

13 September 2008

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