John Arcudi is one of the underappreciated greats of comic book writing, even with The Mask, The Creep, Rumble, Doom Patrol, and others are under his belt. And while it’s early, Dead Inside (Dark Horse) looks like one to add to the list.
Arcudi’s setting and perspective, namely prison as told through the eyes of Detective Caruso, Jail Crimes Division is part of what makes the book work. Jail crimes is a rarely discussed branch of law enforcement, in part because it’s boring: Crimes committed in jails have limited numbers of suspects and motives, after all. It works, in part, because of Arcudi’s ability to capture the daily life of interesting people working hard, dull jobs; Caruso banters with her work friends, asks after old colleagues, pulls in favors, and fights bureaucracy. But it’s all woven around a fascinating plot: How could a tiny prisoner, and one out in a few months, to boot, violently murder a man twice his size? And then why would he then commit suicide?
Toni Fejzula tackles art, and does an excellent job avoiding the usual cliches amid panoramas of gore. Prisons can be dull places, but Fejzula finds the drama. Colorist Andre May pitches in with a diverse, complex palette that helps drive the drama and creates a vivid atmosphere. In short, this promises to be a great series, and a great way to close out 2016.