Reviews: ‘Simon Dark’ & ‘Proof’

Quite often we will hear from the iFanbase asking us why we never talk about certain books on our various shows or here on the website. If a very convincing case is made, or if enough people keep bringing up the same book we will often give those books a look. And sometimes we end up with Fell, Checkmate, and Fear Agent.

Some members of the iFanbase are more proactive, however, and will send copies of the books they think we should be reading to the iFanboy offices. Today I’m going to take a look at two such books, DC’s Simon Dark and Proof from Image Comics.


Submitted by Tim Rakarich AKA The Freaky Tiki

Written by Steve Niles
Art by Scott Hampton
Colors by Chris Chuckery
Letters by Todd Klein

Published by DC Comics / $2.99

In a remote corner of Gotham City, crime is low (although you wouldn’t know it from reading this comic book), the people are happy (though they appear pretty numb to the “low crime”) and the children skip rope and sing

If you’re good,
He’ll stay away.
If you’re bad,
He’ll make you pay.

Lurks in the shadows.
Hides in the park.
Simon. Simon.
Simon Dark.

And thus we are introduced to Simon Dark, the brutal vigilante holding sway over a small section of Gotham known as The Village.

Simon Dark is a book that I will freely admit that I had never heard of until it was submitted to us. And while it’s not unusual for me to have not heard of a book (see: Proof), it is unusual for me to not know about a book set in Gotham City.

Simon Dark is not your typical superhero book. In fact, it’s not really a superhero book at all. It is more of a horror comic crossed with an urban vigilante crime comic with a dash of V For Vendetta thrown in. That’s not to say that this book is to be compared to one of the greatest comic book stories of all time, rather the main character of Simon Dark gave me a sort of V-ish feel in that he is a mysterious, brutal, vigilante loner who wears a white mask and red clothes.

And who is Simon Dark? Well these first two issues tell us he is a kid of 17 or 18 who seems to be made up of sown together patches of flesh. He also seems to show the uncanny ability to bounce back from nine gunshot wounds. What does all of this mean? Well, it’s too soon to tell in regards to the titular character. As for the rest of the cast, it’s your pretty standard crime comic supporting cast — the oversexed detective, the attractive coroner, the new-in-town single dad his teenage daughter (why would you move with your teenage daughter to Gotham City?). None of them really stood out, and in fact were probably the weakest part of the two issues I read, up until the reveal in the very last panel of issue two that shows us that one of the supporting characters is not what they seem.

The real stand out for this series is the art from Scott Hampton. It’s a really beautifully painted yet gritty style that is perfect for a book like this. I haven’t seen regular work from him in a while and it was nice to see he’s still got it. The only downside to the art is something that is quite common with painted style interiors and that is that the action often comes off as a bit stiff. But it’s not really a problem here as the emphasis is more on character and atmosphere rather than dudes punching each other, which does happen in the first two issues, just not very frequently.

The writing is from Steve Niles, he of 30 Days of Night fame. It’s serviceable. I wouldn’t say it was bad, but I wouldn’t say it was fantastic either. Uneven might be a good way to describe it. As many scenes that there were that were really well written and exciting, there were an equal number with some wince-inducing dialogue. Still, the bad guys were intriguing, the twist at the end of issue two was interesting, and Simon Dark himself as an appealingly gross air of mystery. This is a book that might really appeal to the fans of both superheroes and horror.

If there is one thing that would probably keep me form picking up issue three (which is out this Wednesday) it’s that I don’t buy for one second that this is Gotham City. I like the idea of exploring different areas of the city and Scott Hampton’s art goes a long way to establishing this neighborhood’s identity but I found myself saying to myself as I read this “Oh, c’mon — where’s Batman?! There’s no way in hell he allows murdering vigilantes anywhere in Gotham!” I said it to myself a lot and it kept taking me out of the story. I probably would have enjoyed these issues a lot more had they been set somewhere else.

In the end, I don’t think I liked Simon Dark enough to continue buying it in single issues, but if I hear enough good things about it, I would check out the trade, should it get that far.

PROOF #1 & 2

Submitted by Alexander Grecian (Full Disclosure — he’s the writer!)

Written by Alexander Grecian
Art by Riley Rossmo
Colors by Tyler Jenkins

Published by Image Comics / $2.99

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. All I had to go on was Tom Katers from Around Comics and his cryptozoology description and the word Bigfoot. That was it, but it was more than enough to pique my interest. I love Bigfoot; I love contemporary legends. I find them fascinating. Maybe this would be a lighthearted romp that followed Bigfoot hunters. Or maybe it would be about the denizens of the Pacific Northwest, both human and hairy.

Nope, what we’ve got here is Special Agent Sasquatch.

Wait, what?

The conceit of Proof is that a joint United States-Canada intelligence agency known only as The Lodge investigates, protects, and sometimes captures creatures of contemporary myth and legend. Agent John Prufrock (Proof) is the lead agent working out of The Lodge. Oh, and he’s a Bigfoot.

At first I couldn’t help but compare Proof to Hellboy. Whereas Hellboy is a demon employed by the US government to investigate (and sometimes combat) other demons, Proof is a Bigfoot employed by the US and Canadian government to investigate (and sometimes combat, I assume) other mythological creatures. This similarity bothered me for about half the first issue, but eventually I had to just let it go and really just started enjoying the book.

And if you know me at all you know that a book like this is right in my wheelhouse. As an avid watcher of reruns of TV shows like Unsolved Mysteries and In Search of…, this kind of book is tailor made for a guy like me.

It’s hard not to get totally immersed in Proof. First of all, it’s really dense. It features 24 pages of story (a main story and a back-up story whose plot runs concurrently to the main story) as well as loads of explanatory text, research, musings, and behind the scenes info on the book in the back of each issue. And that’s not to mention the little tidbits of information or “Cryptoids” sprinkled throughout the book on just about every page.

Most of the information that we learn in these first two issues we get through the eyes of Proof’s new partner, the newly transferred (after she kept her mouth shut about the apparent existence of Golems) Agent Ginger Brown, who is having a tough time adjusting to a non-human partner and a home base – The Lodge – which is basically a sanctuary for “specialized” endangered and dangerous species. Meanwhile, a Chupacabra is on the loose in Minnesota which isn’t good for the people of Minnesota because Chupacabras tend to wear people’s skins as disguises.

The creative team of Alexander Grecian and Riley Rossmo do really solid work here. The dialogue is very naturalistic and Grecian packs in a lot of information and facts without it coming off as dry. Rossmo’s somewhat loose and exaggerated pencils work well in this fantastical world where a Bigfoot puts on a suit and attends briefings. I enjoyed their work on Seven Sons and it’s nice to see more from them.

By the time I finished the second issue I was ready for more, having had all of my “modern mythological creatures are real!” buttons pushed, of which I have many. Proof is the kind of goofy, fantastical, and yet at times deadly serious stuff that only comics seem to do really well.

If you are the type of person that knows about Bigfoot, Chupacabra, Cottingley Fairies, passenger pigeons, jackalopes, dodo birds, pallas cats, or The Dover Demon then this book is definitely for you. And even if you don’t know what any of these creatures are and you enjoy a good cryptozoologist tale you should check this one out. I’ll be on board Proof from now on. I can’t wait to see where this goes.


  1. Proof sounds really cool. I’ll have to check that out.

    Is the Dover Demon anything like the Jersey Devil?

  2. I read the first issue of Simon Dark and felt the exact same thing. Although it shouldn’t matter, it does, if this book was set anywhere other than Gotham, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

  3. I picked up Proof after Tom’s recommendation, too and I love it.

    I think its neat that they’re taking the legends to a creative level (like what the chupacabra does with its victims for example).

  4. I love these reviews, keep em up!

  5. Great reviews. I felt the same way about Simon Dark after the first issue. It would seem to be right up my alley, but I felt a bit underwhelmed by the whole thing.

    I haven’t picked up Proof yet, but I’ve scanned through it on the shelves. This review might be the thing that tips the scale and gets me to buy it. Although I’m also tempted to wait for the trade…

  6. The Proof people ought to pay Katers – I heard about it there, too, picked it up and loved it. Still haven’t picked up issue 2 yet, but I’m going to as soon as I find it. Really good stuff. It’s Hellboyish, but not really – it’s a great Hollywood pitch that so far has lived up to its promise.

    I’ve got to say I’ve liked Simon Dark so far. The art is spectacular and it’s probably the best thing Niles has written for DC. I like the fact that the inevitable Batman cameo hasn’t happened yet – I think you end up killing new characters if you shoehorn the ‘popular’ guest appearance too soon. Besides, Batman’s in like a billion books right now – doesn’t the guy have enough to do? I like the Simon Dark character and think there’s something there for a good long run of creepy stories – don’t ruin that by shoving Batman in there to bump sales just yet.

  7. Wait, iFanboy have offices now? Swanky.

    Glad to finally get a review of Simon Dark. Everyone I asked about the book had never heard of it. I was curious but not that curious. Ya’ follow?

  8. Proof really struck that part of me that used to really like listening to Art Bell.

    Glad you liked it.

  9. I really wanted to pick up Proof as well. I too love this type of stuff and Art Bell is a blast to listen too sometimes. However my closest shop didn’t have it. I’ll have to stop by the shop closer to my parents house. They are better at getting these type of books.

  10. I’m glad to hear that you received the comics Conor. Thanks for giving it a try. From what I understand (and this is nothing more than rumors that I have heard/read) Simon dark was originally supposed to be a Vertigo title, then last minute it was switched into mainstream DCU. It was going to take place in a “generic” big city but Editorial suggested Gotham and Niles said OK.

    I do believe that this book is being written for the trade. I don’t think that is bad or good… it just is. For some reason, I enjoy the decompressed style that it is being written in (a la early Bendis Daredevil).

    Sorry it wasn’t for you, but thanks for giving it a try. Now stop “bogarting” the issues and pass it over to the next iFanboy host. 🙂

    I hope you liked the leis it came with!

    the Tiki

  11. How much of Simon Dark reads like leftovers from The Creeper?

  12. Prufrock?

    Like Push, Nevada and the T.S. Elliot poem?


  13. Nice. *10 Points* for wordplay with the ‘iFanbase’.

    I’ve been looking for Proof since Tom mentioned it too, but I haven’t seen it at either of the shops I frequent. That’s two good nods it’s gotten now, making me want to read it more.

  14. I’ve been wanting to ask this for months: If i was looking to be proactive and send you guys a copy of a comic i think you should be reading, how do i go about doing this?
    Feel free to email me back at

  15. mikegraham6…

    I just wrote iFanboy on the envelope. like Santa, the Post Office just knows where to send it. 🙂

    the Tiki

  16. Anyone wanting to check out the first issue of Proof can do so here:

  17. I was really looking forward to Proof from all of the build up on Image’s site this summer. Unfortunately, my LCS isn’t carrying it. I’ll have to get on them about this.

  18. Thanks! That was a quick read, but a fun one. I gotta see about getting it on my pull list. The Hellboy comparisons are easy to catch. It reminds me a little bit of Men in Black too, with the Agents essentially being liasons between humans and cryptids, and then you have the occasional bad eggs.

    Don’t let the MIB thing sway anyone, I should say MIB, but better.