From the twisted and horribly creative minds of Eric Powell and Kyle Hotz comes the third installment in the secret history of Billy the Kid. Written by Powell, the creator, writer, and artist of the horror comedy hit The Goon, and Hotz, who also provides the artwork, Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Orm of Loch Ness is quite possibly one of the most interesting miniseries that you have sadly never heard of. Published by Dark Horse, Orm of Loch Ness is a four-issue miniseries, just like the original Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and its sequel, The Ghastly Fiend of London. The over-arching premise of this title is an entertaining one: Billy the Kid, that cunning and reckless western outlaw, was not murdered by lawman Pat Garrett, but instead faked his death and joined up with a traveling show of “Biological Curiosities,” known commonly as freaks, as their foul-mouthed protector. If that doesn’t sell you, then the Victorian-era characters Billy and his band encounter will: in the first miniseries, it is Dr. Victor Frankenstein, in the second, Jack the Ripper and Joseph Merrick, also known as The Elephant Man, and in this third outing it is Dracula.
There is a slight continuation from The Ghastly Fiend of London at the start of Orm of Loch Ness as Billy and company search for their friend Callahan (The Alligator Man), kidnapped during the previous miniseries by an unknown villain. But, fear not, the story comes into its own within the first few pages, and fills you in on any details you need from the previous two series right quick. The traveling show’s leader, Fineas Sproule, who has hands for feet, believes their friend has been taken to Loch Ness, and the mythology that Powell and Hotz have conceived for Loch Ness is phantasmagorical, insanely creative, and unlike any Loch lore I have ever encountered. That is just the beginning, because once Dracula is introduced into the dark and devious machinations of the story, all you can do is sit back and revel at the twisted, clever imagination of it all.
To reveal any more of the story would be to deprive you of some stellar surprises, uncouth humor, and grisly developments. For a horror comic, there is a fair share of heartfelt emotion and more than a few spoonfuls of crass humor, mostly emanating from Billy’s mouth, and all of it thoroughly enjoyable. The lore of Loch Ness plays a vital part in the tale, and also gives us the obnoxious, hilarious character of Father Anthony, who Billy is none too fond of, and for good reason. Kyle Hotz’s tremendous art brings this macabre tale to wonderful life with thick shadows, dark, rich colors, and a gory attention to detail. Dread seeps from his panels, and the unknown lurks at the turn of every page, just as it does for our heroes. And, when things get crazy and more than a little fishy, Hotz’s art ramps up to unleash a host of ghastly horrors that make our eyes go wide with shock and amazement.
The Orm of Loch Ness is a unique cocktail of horror, humor, myth, and mayhem, telling an intriguing tale you never would have imagined, but are so glad someone else did. I also highly recommend the other two Billy the Kid miniseries to see the full scope of Powell and Hotz’s talents. Billy may be ornery, but he is a tried and true companion once he gets to know you. So, turn down the lights, light some candles that cast long, dark shadows across the room, and sidle up to Billy and his friends – just don’t call them freaks, especially Billy. He hates that.