By Edward Gambichler
The Creep # 0
A former flame gets in touch with you out of the blue via a letter sent to your office, at a private investigations firm, in which she asks you to look into the circumstances surrounding her son’s tragic suicide. Although things did not end well between the two of you, you’d probably sympathize with her plight, swallow your pride, and jump headlong into the case. However, if your Oxel Karnhus, this may not be as simple as it sounds. Karnhus suffers from “acromegaly”, a malfunction of the anterior pituitary gland which results in the overproduction of growth hormones. In most cases, this leads to patients developing oversized facial features ( as in Karnhus’ case ). Despite his reservations about having his former love, Stephanie see him in this state, Karnhus takes the case.
The inspiration for this character comes from an actor by the name of Rondo Hatton. Hatton, who suffered from acromegaly in real life, was a character actor from the 30’s and 40’s. Among his credits was the 1944 film “Sherlock Holmes and the Pearl of Death” where he was cast in the role of a killer known as “The Creeper”. Hatton played variations of this role in several B-movies including 1946’s “House of Horrors”. Hatton played the role of The Creeper in his final film, 1946’s “The Brute Man”. Hatton passed away from a heart attack that year ( due to his acromegalic condition ). In recent years, the late actor has enjoyed a resurgence in the medium of comics. Late artist Dave Stevens made his Creeper character a featured villain in both his “Rocketeer” comic as well as its film adaptation. And now Dark Horse Comics pays tribute to the actor in the new title, “The Creep”.
First off, the artwork. The issue is rendered by Jonathan Case, whose previous credits include “Dear Creature” and “The Green River Killer”. As an artist, I’m always envious of other artists who can achieve a balance between pencils and inks. I hold Case, along with Mike Mignola as a master of the ink quill and anyone looking to improve their understanding of the “white and blacks” of comic book art should look no further than Mr. Case’s panels. Also the color choices are inspired, with scenes set in the past using a warm toned palette of reds and yellows and scenes focusing on Karnhus using cool blues and greys. There are many instances where I buy the latest issue of one of Marvel and DC’s titles and my eyes are bombarded by a “busy” panel, where the action is just over-rendered to the point where the viewer suffers from information overload. I’m usually left with flipping through the book, my eyes darting over the art, just to get to the end of it. That is not the case with this book. With this issue, I’m not “drowning” in the panels but I’m carried away by the “smooth current”.
Now, the writing. This issue was written by John Arcudi, a Dark Horse mainstay whose credits include “B.R.P.D.” as well as “Barb Wire”, “The Mask”, and DC’s “Doom Patrol”. Making a character traditionally viewed as a villainous monster and recasting the character in the central role as the hero is a brilliant twist on the detective genre. Also, despite the film noir aspect of the subject matter, the script doesn’t contain the same heavy-handed dialogue of which you might find if Frank Miller wrote it ( although he did contribute the cover art ). The supporting characters are your normal everyday people. Not femme fatales, nor mobsters or their hitman associates. Ironically, the “heavy” in this issue IS Karnhus.
All in all, a strong start to what will hopefully be a lengthy run. I’m definitely “all in” on this title.
Follow Ed on Twitter @EFG72