With the focus on one of the series’ nastiest villains, The Goon #41 takes a step away from the title’s humor and focuses on some pretty horrific stuff. In a title known for its unique brand of eccentricity, how does this approach hold up? Read on, faithful Spolierite!
Previously in THE GOON: Since the last major story arc wrapped, Eric Powell has been focusing on one-and-done tales. In the previous issue, he served up a skewering satire of superheroes in general, where the Goon and his accomplices poked fun at every superhero gimmick and cliché from tragic origin stories, same-sex relationships, and multi-colored heroes. In the previous issue, Powell focused on prohibition-related hijinks and a homage to Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s “Rat Fink” creations.
DOWN A DARK AND DIRTY PATH…
Issue #41 of The Goon takes the series away from the recent humor and serves to advance the book’s running plot. The Goon is not the central character of this tale. Instead, the reader is re-introduced to the formerly nameless Zombie Priest and his familiar, a cat with the face of a man. Now going by the name of Mr. Corpus, the priest no longer has the power to control hordes of zombies in his quest to take over the Goon’s turf. Though living as a destitute beggar, Mr. Corpus still holds enough power over black magic to tempt desperate souls into making deals with him. This issue, he recounts some of his recent activity…a cursed lover here, a haunted storefront there…all created through deals with desperate people, deals which backfire and cause grief to everyone involved. The depravity that Mr. Corpus shows is absolutely chilling. Powell does an excellent job at keeping these events focused on the Goon by having Mr. Corpus reveal that the Goon eventually puts down each of his supernatural plots. It is a game of cat-and-mouse between the hero and villain with a great deal of collateral damage in the form of the town’s poor citizens.
For my taste, the Goon has always worked best when it is centered on horror elements are the human drama that the book is surprisingly packed with. There is no humor in this book…it reads like an old-school, pre-code EC horror comic. While this book is another “one and done” tale, it also serves as a great jumping on point. The last page includes a moment of foreshadowing; once again giving us a brief glimpse of a character who Powell has hinted will be the next major villain in the series. Even Mr. Corpus, who has spread so much evil and misery just in this single issue, seems to think this new villain will be the biggest threat the Goon has ever faced. After a great read like this, the next issue can’t get in my hands fast enough.
We also get a great back-up this issue by Mark Buckingham, who gives us some detail on the creation of bog-lurks, a critter that has been a series mainstay. It is much more lighthearted in tone than the previous story, and does a great job of providing a few chuckles after the creepiness of the preceding tale.
ART THAT WILL HAUNT YOU
One of the reasons I have enjoyed The Goon is that Powell has always done the writing as well as the art, and one can tell that he really puts his heart and soul into making a quality product. The Goon has an artistic style like no other comic that exists today. The characters are somewhat cartoony, but the anatomy of each character and the movement portrayed in each panel is incredibly real. There are folds of supple flesh, scars and wrinkles that look true to life, as well as dynamic action that will leave you wanting more. Dave Stewart once again turns in a fantastic job on colors, keeping the backgrounds a consistent muddy color and the characters the spotlight of each page.
This issue is simply gorgeous. As much of the story consists of flashbacks, Powell wisely chose to make the images dreamlike and eerie. The colors of these flashbacks are also similar in hue, which put together creates the experience of recalling one of your most unsettling nightmares. Considering that the subject of these flashbacks is murder most foul and hellacious beasts, you get one disturbing issue. For the tone of this book, the art style is perfect.
BOTTOM LINE: IF YOU AREN’T READING THE GOON, YOU’RE MISSING SOMETHING GREAT
It seems that The Goon is picking up more and more fans each day, and issues like The Goon #41 are the reason why. If you’re new to the series, this issue is the perfect jumping on point. The focus on Mr. Corpus as a narrator is a new approach to the series, and it simply works as a way to learn about the history of the Goon and the rivalry between the two characters. Beautiful artwork, a memorable story, and snappy (albeit slightly twisted) dialogue result in one of the month’s top reads. No other book will give you such a complete reading experience as The Goon does. Even better, the next issue of The Goon is only a scant thirty days away.