The Creep #2
Written by John Arcudi
Art by Jonathan Case
Cover By Ryan Sook
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: October 10, 2012
Cover Price: $3.50
Oxel Karnhus is a private investigator who’s looking into a teen suicide case that the cops brushed aside. His main reason for even taking the case is because the client, Stephanie, is an old flame from his younger days. Since they last saw each other, Oxel developed a case of acromegaly, a condition that causes body tissues to get larger over time. In Oxel’s case, his jaw grew crazy-huge like Rondo Hatton.
The Creep follows Oxel’s investigation into Curtis’ suicide which is apparently linked to his buddy, Mike’s suicide a few months earlier. The Creep #2 continues the investigation as Oxel visits Mike’s mom, Laura. Steph interrupts his visit with a timely phone call describing Curtis’ grizzly father’s visit to her house that morning where he debo’d her credit card and slipped out of town. This issue is a necessary cog four-issue mini-series that undoubtedly puts forward some vital clues — we just don’t know how it all fits together yet.
Writer John Arcudi has crafted an intricate and slow developing story. Oxel methodically pieces bits of information together about the teen suicides. All while he endures repeated insults and scorn as a result of his disfiguration. A somber mood permeates the entire series. This Debbie Downer character study touches on topics like teen suicide, depression, and disfigurement. It’s not a bad thing, but I’d just set The Creep aside if you’re feeling in the dumps.
Oxel is an interesting main character. Externally, he just kind of bumbles around and meekly accepts any public derision. In actuality, he uses his deformity to lure people into trusting him and opening up to him — a prized skill in the private investigation field. The question is: is Oxel actually this tricky or is this merely how he rationalizes his dopey demeanor? He’s a flawed and seemingly weak personality who sleeps with hookers, drinks a little too much, and takes all sorts of meds. Yet, with all the humiliation that Oxel must endure, you find yourself pulling for him to solve this case and maybe even hook up with his old girlfriend.
Jonathan Case’s artwork is a throwback to the 80’s and early 90’s, which matches the The Creep’s time period. The coloring is flat with almost no use of gradients. I love retro art in comics and, for the most part, Case’s work is well done. His art style dramatically changes depending on the point-of-view: Oxel’s reality is dank and drab, but panels that show his imagination are artsy, whimsical, and colorful. The lack of detail in the line work doesn’t quite do Oxel’s disfigured jaw enough justice. This deformity is a major story element. In my first read, I actually didn’t think much of it until about halfway through the second issue — a massive jaw is hardly a notable abnormality in the world of comic books. It merely seemed like a funny, Jay Leno-ish quirk. Only it turns out that Oxel’s grossly enlarged jaw is the result of a debilitating condition that has haunted him for much of his adult life.
It wasn’t until I read The Creep #0 that it all came together, which brings me to my next point: The Creep #0 is must-read material if you plan on diving into this series. The Creep originally began as a strip in Dark Horse Presents. I read issues #1 and #2 first, but many aspects of this story were just baffling. I didn’t really get what was going on until after reading issue #0, which contains character development and information that’s vital for grasping the depth of the story.
The Creep takes its sweet time unveiling its story and fleshing out its characters. I’m intrigued with the main character, but the case he’s investigating is rather mundane at this point. However, it does feels like this case has some explosive secrets yet to be unveiled. I like the story so far, but I’m withholding judgment on The Creep until I see how this thing plays out.