COMIC REVIEW: The Creep #1

The Creep is a new comic series from Dark Horse written by John Arcudi and drawn by Jonathan Case. Our story opens with our protagonist, Oxel, reading a letter about a boy called Curtis, containing photographs of a mother and a newborn.  Oxel is in bed with a prostitute and is undoubtedly in a bad place.

He reveals to the woman and the reader that he has a headache problem. The next scene features a homeless man pushing a cart containing his belongings and talking to himself. He sees Curtis, now a young man, and tries to talk to him. However, this is soon revealed to be in his imagination. And now Oxel is back in the story and talking to a used-car salesman, who would appear to be Curtis’s father. Curtis is dead, and it maybe a case of suicide, following the death of his best friend. Oxel also explains that he has a condition which causes his appearance as well as profuse sweating and headaches. Curtis’s dad professes that he isn’t doing so well and has regrets towards his dead son.

On the underground heading home, Oxel is verbally abused because of his appearance. Back in his apartment, he looks through a pile of photos and considers an outbreak of suicides. There is a brief flashback, presumably of Curtis when he was alive, and then back to Oxel wondering when the story all started.

And to be honest, that’s how it left me – wondering what this was all about. I’m not sure what kind of story this is. Thriller, detective, supernatural, anti-hero? There is no clear identity to The Creep – the only hint is when Oxel has his appearance mocked. I can only assume he is the titular character. Or maybe the Creep is whoever or whatever is causing the suicides.

Arcudi has previously worked on The Mask and B.P.R.D., and his own series Major Bummer for DC. He is probably most famous for inventing the character Captain Daimio in B.P.R.D. He clearly knows how to create characters and to write good narrative. There is a hint of Hellboy in Oxel’s features too.

What I think he has overdone, however, is the intrigue. The idea here is to set a mystery in order to draw the reader in. Who is Oxel and what is wrong with him? What is causing the suicide outbreak? However, in just 24 pages, there isn’t enough to grab you and draw you in. There’s not enough to make you care to find out what happens next. There are complex relationships in The Creep, and I imagine that further down the line more will be made known. I just don’t know enough about the story and the world to be excited by issue 2.

The best thing about this comic book is the art. It has an almost classic Dark Horse feel to it, and indeed, could even be part of the Hellboy universe. Case has previously drawn Tor’s Dear Creature, and Dark Horse’s Green River Killer, amongst others. The characters are well drawn and the panelling is well designed. There is a gorgeous atmosphere generated and a nice order to the layout of the story, which makes the lack of narrative clarity even more frustrating. I feel some tighter editing and a more obvious direction would have made The Creep a better comic book.

Rating: 3/5
Reporter: Ian J Simpson

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