Billy the Kid’s Old Timey Oddities and the Ghastly Fiend of London #1
Billy the Kid, Late 1880’s London, Freaks, and a Crime Unsolved. What do you get when you mix these elements together? Something that’s quite satisfying!
Billy the Kid is one of the many names that have helped to define an era, which has become much a part of American History, as it is a part of American Folklore in the Wild West. In fact, he has not just become a name; he has become one of the era’s most famous icons, as his exploits have become the stuff of legend. Loved by some, hated by others, compelling to all, Billy the Kid’s story, face, personality and iconography have become interwoven into our entertainment mediums in various places. It was only a matter of time before he would become the star of his Comic Book (Graphic Novel in collected form, and for those who wish to call it that) series, to which the title in question is the sequel to the first one.
As for the comic book series itself, it asks the question as to what would happen to Billy the Kid, had he survived past his “untimely” death in 1881, and what kind of Adventures he would get himself into? Well, enter the Whitechapel Murders, which were caused by another infamous icon of history known as “Jack the Ripper.”The legacy of this event would be wide-reaching, as it would cause a lot of social upheaval, and would spell the beginning of the end of the 19th Century Ghettos of the City of London. It would also become great story fodder, as the events of the nearly 2 year long saga would also be explored in just as many mediums of entertainment, as well.
With two folklore legends being put in the same scenario, what would be the result? A pretense for a Comic Book/Folklore Battle, the likes which no one has even seen, or something else altogether. Well, the result is definitely something else altogether (for now, at least), however, this doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, what we get is extremely good, and one of the most polished First Issues of the year.
The story itself puts Billy and his companions’ right in the thick of the Whitechapel murders, as Fineas goes to visit one of his friends, who is not just confined to a room in the hospital, but has a condition that would put him in a class of people that would become the persecuted in response to the paranoia that Jack the Ripper brings. In fact, the story is flawlessly able to interweave the fears and paranoia of the populace to the dangerous position that the “Freaks” are now in. It puts Billy and his companions in the position of racing not only against time, but the burning flames of paranoia that could consume not only their friend, but the entire London freak community. If the situation itself, wasn’t compelling enough, this is only bolstered by great dialogue, excellent characterization for Billy, and a great chance for some good character development. An almost perfect display of how an unrealistic and almost preposterous storyline, doesn’t have to be inheritably stupid.
Also, any and all praises for this book (and the creative team), will not be given its proper justice, without praises for the art. Kyle Hotz doesn’t let Eric Powell (the writer) show him up as he carries his share of the load admirably. With his illustrations he sets up a world that is very much late Victorian in style. There are no problems catching the emotions and actions of the character, as each panel brings these characters to life in varied ways. In addition, his use of colors (the black and white flashback, was excellently done, even with its borrowed images) only enhances the visual side of what we’re seeing unfold. All in all it adds to a world that is not only great to look at, but beautiful in the visual imperfections that we see in each character.
As far as flaws go, the only one that even stands out (and not in a way that ruins the package), is the fact that we’re dropped in the middle of an ongoing storyline (at least with Billy and his companions), which means that we see characters that new readers are not going to be familiar with, and aren’t as significant as of yet. Some might even ask, as to why Billy is traveling with Fineas. However, even with that small wrinkle, you’re still getting one of the best books of the week, and one that shouldn’t be missed by those who are looking for something different to read. Billy’s incursion in the WhiteChapel section of London is not just a winner, but quite a big one at that.
Story: ****1/4 (8.5): Billy the Kid and Jack the Ripper is almost something out of fanfiction. However, the writing makes the story work, and the storyline situation is majestically woven into the fabric of the book.
Art: ****1/2 (9): This is really excellent stuff, folks. You’re being transported into a world of darkness, destitution, and danger. And it’s a marvel to look at.
Accessibility: **** (8): Despite the questions, the book is still not hard to pick up in any sense of the word. From the first panel to the last words, most everything you need to follow what’s going on is right in the book.
Final Judgment: ****1/4 (8.5)
Last edited by SilverPhoenix
on Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.