Billy The Kid's Old Timey Oddities And The Ghastly Fiend Of London #1(of 4) - Untitled and 'The Goon' - Powell and Hotz
Story - I've never really been a big fan of the work of Eric Powell, The Goon, while well-drawn, is only sporadically appealing to me on the writing side, and his work on Action Comics was paired not only with a below-par Geoff Johns, but also one of my least favourite concepts in comics, Bizarro. But again, the art was top-notch. All of this made me wary of this book, as it's Powell writing but not drawing, and the results were the same as The Goon, sporadically appealing, but overall underwhelming.
I think a lot of my antipathy towards this issue is due to not having read the first mini-series, and Powell not really attempting to bring new readers up to speed. I know I should expect that some things aren't explained, but by all accounts it's been quite a few years since the first series, and Powell doesn't explain a thing, not even a text recap. I have no idea why Billy The Kid is in London, why he's teamed up with a bunch of Circus Freaks, or who these Freaks actually are. Two of them don't even look like Freaks at all! As I said, part of this problem is me, but Powell doesn't even do his job in trying to entice me to go back and get the first trade. If they want to more of this concept, they need to do better at this. It all just seems like random, childish storytelling, hey let's throw these famous historical figures together, like League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, with the intelligence replaced by bawdy jokes.
But as I said, this was sporadically entertaining, mainly due to the inclusion of the Jack The Ripper mythos, something I am very interested in. In comics, any Ripperology will inevitable be compared to From Hell, and this even moreso, due to the use of the Elephant Man. This isn't of course as good as From Hell, but it's not really trying to be, this is just a fun romp, with very little depth, and that's fine. It's just something that doesn't appeal to me, and the problems with a lack of explanation only compound this. If you've read the first mini, then I'm sure this is great stuff, a welcome return, but if you're in the majority who haven't, then Powell has failed to really provide a hook to carry on and go back. Disappointing.
This issue also contains a Goon back-up story, and it's a serviceable gag-story, with of course nice art.
Artwork - Kyle Hotz is an artist I'm most familiar with from his work on Marvel MAX's The Hood, and he's a good fit for this book. His Elephant Man is a thing of disgusting beauty, and the way he draws Billy The Kid's face is good for the comedic elements of the story. A good artist, but I think Powell himself would have elevated the story, his Goon back-up is very basic story-wise, but art-wise? It's excellent.
Best Line - 'I'll give your little Gentleman a jolly good tossle and a slide down the gullet before, mind ye!'