Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me #1 (of 5)
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Writer: Devin Faraci
Artist: Vic Malhotra
Colors: Jason Millet
Letters: Christa Miesner
Cover A: Vic Malhotra
Cover B: Robert Hack
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release date: August 31, 2016
When going through this week’s list of comic book releases to choose what I would review, I picked out Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me #1, but I hadn’t in any way connected it to the original novel, since the review file didn’t reference Thompson. I try to read as many comics as humanly possible every week and I liked the title, since it piqued my curiosity. Now, having prefaced with that boring lead in, I will tell you that as soon as I started reading this issue, it all snapped into focus for me. This was adapted from a book I had read over three decades ago and I remember thinking that I enjoyed the introspection so much that it had most likely darkened my very soul.
For you see, this comic book miniseries from IDW Publishing is based on one of the most influential noir books every produced. Set in a small Texas town in 1952, it has all the appeal of rustic Americana but beneath it all is a darkness that weaves through the lives of all its citizens.
The Killer Inside Me revolves around Lou Ford, a local law enforcement officer who seems to be a cross between an exceptionally boring motivational speaker and a typical mouth breather. But beneath this facade is a scheming sociopath masquerading as just another everyday, folksy guy. His thoughts betray him, though, allowing the reader brief glimpses of the twisted psyche that he calls “the sickness.” His amicable and pleasant appearance works to Lou’s advantage time and again while he furthers a plot that he’s been concocting for quite some time. Revenge and apathy are strange bedfellows for this particular wolf in sheep’s clothing. As he states in this first issue: “I’d gone through the deal so often in my mind that I’d gotten used to it.”
This tale is not for the weak of heart. It is racially insensitive to promote an understanding of that day and age and it does have the capacity to offend people with the dialogue, so be warned. It is sexually explicit and does have a tremendous amount of violence, just as the original did. It is not at all to be likened to BDSM, rather it is abuse and battery. Unfortunately, removing it would have been akin to castrating the story, as it is a definitive part of Lou Ford and he accepts it as part of “the sickness.” I do not, however, condone any of the violence within this tale, I just want to say that forewarned is fair warned.
This issue is the first of five installments that writer Devin Faraci and artist Vic Malhotra have adapted for IDW. It seems Faraci is staying remarkably true to the original text, including a large portion of the key descriptions and dialogue from Thompson’s novel, which are rendered quite nicely and neatly by letterer Christa Miesner. Of course, in sequential art, you have to paraphrase quite a bit, but overwhelmingly it all feels spot on, if you know what I mean. Like I said, it’s been thirty years or so since last I read the novel. And it is refreshing to see an author create something so like the original work that it’s less a reshaping than it is an homage. Playing right into that same concept is the clean and unfiltered artwork from Malhotra with colors by Jason Millet. At times a bit light on the details but sufficiently direct to further the story, the panels lead the reader along the path that is so well lit by the writer. I was shocked that a certain scene was left in, though I did see that it wasn’t graphic, but rather horrifying and suspenseful in a Hitchcockian way.
This premiere issue establishes Lou’s relationships with others and delves lightly into his mind, providing readers with a baseline of who and what he is: a serial killer. This is not a mini-series for everyone. Trust me when I say it is absolutely not for children or anyone squeamish or easily offended. To be sure, if my memory serves, this first issue is but a drop in the bucket of things to come. But the story is worthwhile, though ruthless; it allows us to see what few can imagine. The title says it all, folks. This won’t be about happy endings, it is what it says it is. So if you like your stories callous and brutish with more than a dash of crazy, this creative team has delivered a prime example of just such a yarn. And even though we are but one issue in, I can tell you I’m in for the whole ride.
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