This is going to hurt you more than it hurts me. In fact, I’m gonna feel great.
You may have noticed I review Goon titles a great deal. That’s because I personally believe Eric Powell to be one of the greatest talents working in the industry today. Powell’s artistic abilities are incredible, and he has a way with dialogue and comedy that defies logic and (at times) good taste. Setting up ridiculous gags a la Family Guy but more connected to the through line and with better payoffs, The Goon is bloody irreverent in every way: satirizing society and anything else Powell decides to stick his tongue out at on a bi-weekly basis. He’s actually just finished the series, though the Goon seems to be getting a new book called Lords of Misery, taking some of Powell’s other creations and banding them together for what will promise to be a great time. This Library Edition collects the first three graphic novel compilations that follow the three- and four-issue story arcs that began the whole shooting match, brought together in a lovely, oversized shelf-hoarder that any fan will love to have.
Powell’s storytelling begins with a simple concept: 1930s/40s noir gangsters in a supernatural town where an evil priest leads an army of zombies who the Goon regularly smashes along with his deviant sidekick Frankie. Add in a lot of bodily humor and a sick, twisted, and anatomically accurate penchant for over-the-top horror violence and you’ve gotten the basic recipe. But, the secret is in the sauce; I don’t know too many writers who can take a beautiful noir moment and throw ape feces at it until you soil yourself laughing. The drastic shift in tone shows that he is a master storyteller, where anyone can have a deep moment or play the fool at any time. Utilizing the crazy, sci-fi eclecticism of the ’40s and taking the cheapest of gags and elevating them to the finest forms of witticism, Powell crafts the ridiculous into a rip-roaring adventure that grows a heart as it goes. The Goon is an epically tragic character on a stage we don’t often see much of anymore, and he graces it beautifully.
The world of the Goon is the most breathtakingly ugly place drawn more gorgeously that I have ever seen. Powell can take a simple stance and have it convey a bevy of turmoil and angst, and then toss it all to the hounds and drop a visual gag that threatens your composure on a cross-town bus with nice church ladies sitting across from you. What? Back to the artwork, it’s filled with resplendent skill and a full concept of what this world is. No one is beautiful in the world of the Goon. He’s a mess of a man – ill-proportioned and scarred – and Frankie is a weaselly, little rodent man whose general lack of definition is his most defining feature, but you find everyone beautiful in their repulsiveness. They belong to this hurtful, hating world and are perched in the mire as elegantly as a gargoyle on a church. They fit it so perfectly that they make the scene haunting to look at.
There’s a smart, wickedly funny man making funny books that can rip out your heart and smash it with a cream pie, and you will not want to be left out of the amazing. Check out this Library Edition and set yourself along one of my favorite comic journeys that I’ve ever taken.
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