The Doctor’s Missing Nightmare Arc: Gideon Falls #12

by Brendan M. Allen

“Stations of the Cross,” Part One The hottest series of 2018 returns from the creative team that Brian Michael Bendis said “will go down as one of the greatest comic teams of all time!” After the mind-blowing events of the second arc, our story heads right through the looking glass back to Gideon Falls, 1886! Once there, a Father Burke must help catch a vicious killer named… Norton Sinclair? And when the killer can travel through time (and space), readers are in for a wild ride.

The first two arcs of Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s mind-bending occult thriller dragged us all over time and space to chase a killer and question reality. Gideon Falls #12 kicks of the third (final?) arc by dropping us back in Gideon Falls 1886, where this whole nightmare began, with the first sighting of The Black Barn and the roots of The Ploughmen.

The pacing of Gideon Falls has been all over the map, in all the right ways. It has been maddening (and so much fun) following Lemire through this labyrinth, with only the slightest hope of making it through to the other side. Chapter Twelve finally is starting to show signs this thing is coming together. There have been two separate timelines from the beginning, Father Fred’s and Norton/Daniel’s. Now that those two have gotten all smashed together and swapped, we’ve got this third, original line to follow, with Father Burke and The Smiling Man. This arc feels like the blowoff, but every time I’ve thought I had this thing figured out, Lemire has yanked the carpet out from under me, so…maybe?

I’ve talked a lot about the artwork in this series. I’ve brought it up in conversations that have absolutely nothing to do with comics or horror. My wife’s tired of hearing about it, I’m sure. Andrea Sorrentino torques his layouts, panels, and gutters in ways that I’ve never seen, adding layers of tension to already disturbing visual content. Dave Stewart’s palette dials up the discomfort even further. These dudes are deliberately creating a nerve-racking, disquieting, and stressful experience for your enjoyment. God, I love this book.

This is the missing nightmare arc of Doctor Who. There’s an evil TARDIS shaped like a barn, a vampire Master, and some very confused companions. Not really. Like, at all. That’s just how my brain is trying to wrap around this absolutely insane, dead brilliant piece of horror. Hands down, one of the best books I’ve read in any genre. Nothing makes any damned sense, except when it all does. 

All that being said, chapter Twelve is definitely not the best place to jump into this thing. This is a complex, nuanced, deranged narrative. If you haven’t been tracking, I’d definitely recommend grabbing Volumes One and Two before cracking this one open. You’d probably be able to piece together some of the important stuff, but why miss out? Do this thing up right. Image Comics did you a solid by releasing Volume One a while back, and dropping Volume Two this week to coincide with the release of this chapter. You can grab the whole stinking thing and bring yourself up to speed for about $25.

Gideon Falls #12, Image Comics, released 17 April 2019. Created by Jeff Lemire (script) and Andrea Sorrentino (art), color by Dave Stewart, letters/design by Steve Wands, variant cover by Ming Doyle.

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