When I read the premise for Ness located on the back page of the comic, I have to admit, I held out more chance of seeing the allusive Loch Ness Monster than I did of enjoying the actual comic book. But what is it they say: seeing is believing and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by Ness. To use another metaphor, I should not have judged a book, or rather a comic book, by it’s cover.
The plot for Ness centres around a group of friends who have accompanied the lead protagonist, Ceit, to Scotland to scatter her Mother’s ashes upon a hill in Scotland. Not knowing the location of the hill in question, Ceit inadvertently scatters her Mother’s ashes into the next best thing, a picturesque Loch. The Loch in question, is none another than the very Loch the comic opens upon whereby an elderly cult member, tasked with keeping the creatures that preside in the Loch at bay, is killed by one of the creatures.
To make matters worse, not only is the deceased victim the last surviving member of the ancient cult but he also drops the very text with the incantations needed to repel the creatures, which you guessed it, is then discovered by the group the following morning whilst scattering the ashes. And that my friend is when all merry hell breaks loose; the creatures who are no longer repelled are out for blood. The comic is further contextualised by the village in which it is set; the residents not too dissimilar in their ritualistic penchant for murder than those who reside on the island of Summerisle in the film The Wicker Man (1973).
Therein lies one of the comic’s most lovable charms. It stands on it’s own two feet or rather more aptly, its various tentacles yet seems to be very reminiscent of stories and popular culture of the same ilk. One cannot help but feel as though Ness is paying homage to creature features and horror movies of the past. The comic is a glorious hybrid of genres; Horror and science fiction meet head-on with a hardy sprinkling of dark comedic dialogue to keep the readers appetite sated.
Evil Dead (1981) meets Jaws (1975),as opposed to previous attempts at bringing the mythology of the Loch Ness Monster to life. I mean if any of you have seen the 1996 film starring Ted Danson rather unimaginatively entitled, Loch Ness, then you have my deepest sympathies. A blood thirsty creature meets an evil book discovered by a group of friends! The parallels are too blatant to ignore. Contextually, this makes the comic very rich in it’s source material, made all the more unique by the very fact that many know of the myth and hoaxes that surround the Loch Ness Monster, yet little has been written creatively about the subject matter.
Moreover, the artwork by Rob Carey and the colouring by Dee Cunniffe is raw yet whimsical in its depiction of Scotland and the comic’s narrative. The depiction of the creatures is a stark contrast to the humpbacked depictions one can get on a postcard in many a gift shop located around the Loch, a quip made by one of the group as they are charged down by one of the creatures. The mystery and intrigue surrounding the comic, most notably around the characters of Ceit and a mysterious figure that is never too far from an attack by the creatures, keep the reader engaged; a four issue run is ideal, the story self contained, all killer, no filler.
An enjoyable read from start to finish with a plot that has left me satisfied and, not unlike the creatures within the comic, hungry for more.
What did you think of Ness? Let me know in the comments below or send us a Tweet!