A great read from start to finish, The Creep HC is an emotionally-enthralling private eye tale that pulls at the heart strings. As each page goes by, readers will start to feel for the deeply-flawed protagonist. This is a bleak and heart-breaking story about a disconnected loner looking for answers.
WRITTEN BY: John Arcudi
ART BY: Jonathan Case
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
RELEASE: April 24th, 2013
A small town is shocked to hear by a pair of backyard teen suicides. When a grieving mother suspects more than suicide at play, she calls in a special favor from an old flame. A disfigured private eye, named Oxel Karnhus, reluctantly finds himself investigating a seemingly solved case. Doubting the evidence, Oxel wonders if the two teenagers were hiding any terrible secrets. With no help from the local police, Oxel finds himself in a tough situation as he searches for the truth. As the snow pours and pours, Oxel wanders deep into the woods and uncovers an even more shocking crime.
Writer John Arcudi delivers an interesting take on the private eye novels. Oxel is the anti-Philip Marlowe because of his disfigurement. Neither smooth, nor charismatic, Oxel is rough around the edges and prone to anger issues. Oxel also happens to be the anti-Mike Hammer because of his desperate need for companionship from women. Aching from loneliness, Oxel wants to get close to his ex-flame, but he knows she will turn her back after one look at him.
During the narrative, Arcudi delivers lots of unexpected twists and red herrings. Typically in old-school private eye novels, the investigation leads to a bigger crime. As Oxel investigates the suicides, he finds himself taking the wrong leads and interrogating the wrong suspects. This doesn’t make Oxel a bad private eye; it just means he is given half-truths and mostly lies. Oxel has to rely on his imagination most of the time, but his mind is plagued by melancholy and cynicism.
Keeping the readers in Oxel’s point-of-view, artist Jonathan Case captures a brutally silent and somber atmosphere. Using wide shots, Case highlights Oxel’s yearning for acceptance when no one is around. In these scenes, Oxel is either surrounded by empty seats, or is in a small room. Oxel is always by himself, lost in his own thoughts and feelings. The snowy mountain range represents how far away he is from the city, as if the world itself wants to keep him away from civilization.
Arcudi keeps in mind of Oxel’s rare condition when illustrating his character design. Oxel suffers from acromegaly, an excess of growth hormones that causes enlarged physical features and height. Arcudi paints beads of sweat on Oxel’s forehead during interrogations. Oxel is always the tallest person when he is standing next to someone. Oxel looks bulked up like a quarterback, but we never see him in a fight.
“The Creep” is tailor-made for fans of crime fiction and private eye novels. Because the protagonist is so well-developed, I’m really hoping there is a another case out there for our private investigator.
Reviewed by Jorge Solis