Few things beat the hyper-reality of an Eric Powell story. The man who brought us The Goon loves to delve into the murky world of demons, black magic, mutations, the occult and all the other dark and shadowy areas we fear to tread. With Billy The Kid’s Old Timey Oddities, Powell takes the western gunslinger icon and fuses him with a traveling band of circus freaks. Where is this motely crew headed? Out to defeat a monster in the Loch, which is actually Dracula, of course. This band of freaks doesn’t know that Dracula protects the Loch, but they’re about to find out.
Teaming with writer Tracy Marsh, Powell opens up this volume of Billy The Kid, titled The Orm Of Loch Ness, with a visit to a London pub, where a man with a clawed hand is getting drunk and fucking with people. Soon after being ejected from the pub, this man gets a ten-year-old boy drunk and then promptly slaughters him while narrating the tale of how he set up his old clan to hang for a murder he committed. Marsh and Powell aren’t kidding here folks, this is a bad place to be. Meanwhile, Billy The Kid and his band of circus freaks are being held hostage by the local townspeople who don’t take kindly to freaks they think are born of Satan.
Our heroes escape and make their way up to the giant castle on the hill. There they meet Dracula, who greets them with warm friendship, food and shelter. What Billy’s troupe doesn’t know is that Dracula is keeping their missing comrade, aka Alligator Man, in his dungeon. Another wrinkle comes with Isadora, the beautiful tattooed girl, who finds herself attracted to prince of darkness. As the issue comes to an end, Powell and Marsh set up for all hell to break loose.
As always, Powell tempers his lust for freaks and horror with a sharp sense of humor. There are no jokes here, Powell is too good for anything that simple. Instead, the dark humor of the story and the dialogue permeate the entire issue. Powell and Marsh have created their own world, with its own ideas of light and dark, good and evil and even what’s funny. That structure makes everything funny but more in a way that you have to laugh because it’s so bizarre or disturbing. This is the magic that Powell possesses and, in The Orm Of Loch Ness, he and Marsh are right on point.
While I’m sad Powell isn’t penciling The Orm Of Loch Ness, artist Kyle Hotz does a fantastic job. He posses the same eye for the creepy as Powell does, but the style is much grander, much more within the realm of horror fantasy than The Goon. Hotz uses thick lines, shadows and heavy ink to create the overbearing darkness that permeates this world. His faces are exaggerated but not undisciplined. Hotz knows what he’s doing with each panel, with each horrific freak and each bit of shadow and light. For example, the main characters and situations are penciled huge, bigger than life and very creepy. The tattoos on Isadora’s body are the exact opposite, handled with a delicate touch and great affection. Hotz feeds The Orm Of Loch Ness exactly what it needs
Billy The Kid's Old Timey Oddities and The Orm Of Loch Ness is one of the best horror comics to come out this year.
(4 Story, 5 Art)