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‘The Goon: Once Upon a Hard Time #1’ – Advance Comic Book Review

Wow, this got pretty heavy.

After losing the support of a major potential ally (only because his ally’s kid got all dead while under the Goon’s protection) because of manipulation by the Harpies, Goon got . . . well kinda dark.  After tying up the loose end that cost him everything, Goon has somehow found a way to be even more violent.  Tearing apart a Harpy hangout (not to mention the folks inside), we see only rage and heartache in his actions, none of the spirit that would buoy him through so many situations.

I’m reading through the back catalogue of Eric Powell’s incredible series right now, and the difference from where Goon started to where he’s come, and it’s an incredible series as well as a testament to Powell’s twisted genius that this big, ugly guy who takes life on the chin more often than not can bring about the same kind of emotional range that any ingénue can command, with a gravitas that Cronkite would envy. (I highly recommend googling if that reference is too old for you.)

I’ve been enthralled with Powell’s artwork since opening the first page of an issue I checked out, and it has only grown in skill and delicacy throughout the years.  He makes evocative posturing and incredible moments seem easy to achieve. There’s a masterful attention to detail and fleshing out a feeling that puts you instantly into a state of empathy with this twisted mongrel that the world spit out.  He’s become Willy Loman, watching as his world closes in on him, the gardens giving way to faceless implacable buildings on every side. Goon is imploding, and the strong figure we’ve come to know these many years looks like every mile and wicked beating is finally showing on him.  It’s hard to look at an already worn face and see it weathering before you, but such is the skill of Powell’s art.

This character is one of my favorites, and it’s because of not only the pain he dishes out and his antihero stoicism in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, but that he hurts so much, and we have the specific and almost unconscious clues through Powell’s vast storytelling repertoire.  This is a character that echoes the tough guys throughout my childhood: the horse from Animal Farm, the Rockbiter from the Neverending Story, and Spock going into the dilithium chamber in Wrath of Khan.  These are not unintelligent, unfeeling brutes. Their code, the very fabric of their being is what gives them that implacable attitude, that wish that all people could be better, could strive to be something beyond what they are.  These are the characters that stand to the typhoon, that jump into the fire, that put their morals before their safety.  These are the characters that resonate with me, and I hope I’ve made the case as to why they should with you, as well.

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