Comic Review: The Goon Vol. 1: Nothin’ But Misery

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Writer | Artist: Eric Powell
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Official Site

There’s something about a little psychopath punching out a fortune-telling seal that just makes me laugh. And I’m not afraid to admit it.

If that (and it gets better – the seal tells fortunes by doing nothing but barking out “Ark!”) strikes you as funny, then you’re probably smack in the middle of the target audience for Eric Powell’s hilarious horror comic The Goon.

I’m clearly in the core audience, but sometimes I still find myself surprised to be enjoying The Goon so much. After all, this is horror comedy. I hate horror comedy – it’s never enough one thing or the other, either the comedy not funny or the horror not horrifying.

I mean, I take the less-than-popular stance of not liking Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness, to take two examples, on this same principle.

But Eric Powell’s got me. The Goon is great horror comedy.

The series chronicles the exploits of the title character and his maniacal sidekick, Frankie (think Joe Pesci from Goodfellas, but seedier and more violent), through the grimy, zombie-infested underworld of their city. It’s not clear when the stories take place – though it could be during the Depression from the look of the clothes and some of the cultural references – but it really doesn’t matter. In fact, the lack of time-location in the stories makes them all the more fun and seem, somehow, more current.

The Goon, with Frankie at his side, is the chief enforcer for Labrazio, the rarely seen man who runs all the local rackets. But it’s not just protection money and stolen goods that The Goon and Frankie have to worry about – they’re also at war with the Zombie Priest and his legion of zombies who reside “down at the end of Lonely St.” Seriously.

And what a war it is – whether it’s battling zombies, rescuing kids from child-eating elves on Christmas, or facing off against the Lovecraftian Fishy Pete – The Goon is consistently hilarious and inventive. To try to capture too much of the comedy of the book would cause it to fall flat – the comedy is, of course, as much in the art as in the script.

Powell’s art could possibly carry the book if it had to (thankfully, it doesn’t. His scripts are great): The art is dynamic and fun, heavy on primary colors. Powell has a true gift for action and comedy illustration, perfectly matching the visual tone of the series with its scripts.

Horror fans will love this book and its horror references. Horror comedy fans will laugh their undead asses off. After three collections of the series it’s hard to see anything wrong with The Goon.

Buy The Goon Vol. 1 at Powell’s

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