There are a few things to be said about comics that are relentlessly dark. On one hand, the soul-crushing bleakness of these comics makes them almost completely inaccessible to new readers. On the other hand, however, these are the types of comics that push the boundaries of what we have come to expect as comic book readers. The creators who pen these miserable tales seem to understand that moving readers is a matter of throwing them in the deepest darkest pit they can conjure. The Creep #1 has the makings of a deep and very dark pit — one full of crime, suicides, and slugs of whiskey taken in smoke-filled rooms.
Like any great pulp detective story, The Creep #1 starts in a cheap hotel room with an even cheaper woman. To say that this comic is brutally dark is in many ways a contradiction. When we think of modern gritty comics, books like The Walking Dead spring to mind. However, The Creep #1 in no way achieves grittiness through violence or shocking viciousness. Make no mistake this book is dark and gritty, but only by virtue of its uncompromising sadness.
The Creep #1 follows Oxel, a private eye with a condition that deforms his body and causes him to suffer awful migraines. As if that wasn’t enough to ruin your day, Oxel is in the middle of a case involving the suicide of two teen boys. Writer John Arcudi is crafting the stuff of nightmares here and while it is hard to stomach at times, it has all the trappings of a strong hardboiled story.
Artist Jonathan Case does something extremely interesting with the characters of The Creep #1. While most people in this comic are illustrated with realistic features, the book’s main character is drawn almost comically disfigured. The “condition” that Oxel suffers from seems to elongate his features making him an ape of a man, something that everyone seems aware of. It looks as if Arcudi and Case are going to have Oxel’s condition play a huge role in The Creep #1 and the art in this books plays on that well.
The Creep #1 will be very hard for new comic readers to embrace. Detective comics are never easy for rookie readers to decipher, especially ones that ramp their grittiness up to ten. However, if you are willing to dive headfirst into the darkness of The Creep #1 it will be here to swallow you whole. If you’re ready, then I say go for it, you won’t regret it.