After a slow 2007 for The Goon (due to Eric Powell concentrating his energy on the Chinatown graphic novel), the series has bounced back with a vengeance in 2008. Powell has been cranking new issues out on a monthly basis, adding interesting developments to the series’ overarching plot and continuing to craft entertaining stories that combine his signature style of violence, gross-out humor, and emotional character development. It’s been a good run of issues, with a lot of surprises and nice moments, and this issue is no exception.
The main plot this month concerns the Goon’s gang trying to find the identity of a traitor who betrayed them to their enemies, who are now being led by Labrazio, the gangster who the Goon thought he killed as a kid, but has somehow been resurrected and gained some magical powers, gathered a gang of other evil freaks (including Mr. Wicker, the guy who nearly killed the Goon in the aforementioned Chinatown), and become a major menace to anybody on the side of good. In addition to some funny jokes concerning bog lurk anatomy and a gang of kids trying to sneak into a burlesque house (the center of Labrazio’s operations) using the old “stand on each other’s shoulders while wearing a long coat” gag, there are some nice moments about friendship and betrayal. Since he’s such a stoic character, it’s always interesting to see something pierce the Goon’s tough surface and reveal the rawness underneath.
That leads to an especially nasty fight scene, which allows Powell to give us some really impressive visuals. The amazingly-skilled Dave Stewart has been providing the colors over Powell’s pencils, which, in addition to allowing for the faster schedule, really brings a lot of life to Powell’s world. That fight scene, for instance, sees the Goon tussling with a werewolf, and there are some panels that leap off the page with energy. While Stewart’s bursts of color add a lot to the page, the pencils still shine through, providing weight and substance to the battle. It’s beautiful stuff. And that’s just one sequence among many really nice-looking ones. Each month, I pick up this series and just marvel at Powell’s artistic skill.
So if you haven’t been reading The Goon, well, this probably wouldn’t be the issue to start with, but it’s a good one for long-time fans. Powell is stretching himself on the title; where before Chinatown, he focused mostly on single-issue stories that had some continuing plot points, he has been telling a long, continuing story, and doing an excellent job of it. It’s a nice deepening of the series’ mythos, and it remains a great read each month. If you haven’t read it before, pick up one of the collections and give it a chance.
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