Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Orm of Loch Ness #1 (Dark Horse)

The infamous Western outlaw and his band of pals set off on another adventure. The big question, though, is: who the heck are they?


22 pgs., full color; $3.50
(W: Eric Powell with Tracy Marsh; A: Kyle Hotz)
Billy the Kid and his band of—as he calls them—“de-forms” race across a dark and foreboding English countryside to save their reptilian companion Callahan. One of the Kid’s number suspects that the swiftly approaching Loch Ness has something to do with Callahan’s kidnapper and his purpose. The Kid and his band of circus freaks are abducted by scared townsfolk before they can learn more, and the issue ends with a surprise villain revealed at the bottom of the infamous Loch.
My first experience with Kyle Hotz’s work was during his brief stint on Incredible Hulk. I wasn’t sold on his work then, but his creepy cartoon style is perfect for a book like this. In particular, I loved a 3-page flashback sequence involving a super-strong monk’s battle with the legendary serpent of Loch Ness. Each of his characters—including minor ones in the townsfolk riot scene—are expressively unique. Really, Hotz’s work is the best reason to buy the comic.
The story, on the other hand, is difficult to judge. The characters are believable and distinct. The plot is coherent. The reveal at the end lacks a bit of punch because the surprise villain is a regular fixture in these kinds of Extraordinay-Gentlemen-esque romps.
The story suffers horribly from a lack of background. Though it’s a first issue, Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Orm of Loch Ness is a continuation of two other limited series. Though Hotz and writer Eric Powell (The Goon) were the creators of those series as well, they choose to share very little of what preceded this one.
Most of the characters go completely unnamed. Billy the Kid is obvious enough. We are told the name of the kidnapped reptilian man is Callahan. The Kid refers to a two-faced (as in he actually has two faces) cohort as Siamese. But that’s it. After two readings, I don’t know the name of the man with the handlebar moustache and the atrophied limbs, the bulbous-headed boy who kind of looks like a young Hitler, or the woman with the long and curly dark hair. I don’t know the identity of the lobster-handed bad guy who opens the comic, the child-sized fortune teller he threatens, or the monstrous kidnapper who drives Callahan to the Loch.
It’s impossible to care about these characters or what will happen to them next when I know so little about them or what they’ve experienced. Certainly in a 22-page comic there’s little room for exposition, but there’s no excuse to not give me the characters’ names unless Powell just wants to keep them shrouded in mystery. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here, at least not with the Kid’s companions.  
If you’ve read the two preceding series and enjoyed them, I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t like Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Orm of Loch Ness #1. Otherwise, give it a pass, or at the very least see if you can find those older series before you give this one a shot. | Mick Martin
Click here for a preview of Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Orm of Loch Ness #1, courtesy of Dark Horse.

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