|"Destroy MY sandcastle, willya?"|
The first thing to note about this title is its sense of humor. Rarely have I laughed aloud as often reading anything else as I have reading The Goon. They go to a psychic seal (yes, a seal) for advice, then beat him senseless when he apparently insults Franky's mother. A houseful of grotesque hillbilly spirits are exorcised by the use of cat's eyes, strung on cinnamon dental floss. A bum named Spider who is indeed a giant spider gets the stuffing knocked out of him by Goon because he still owes him five bucks. And, the Goon opens a can of whup-ass on the local vampire coven because they've been scaring a little girl who lives below him and making her cry, which has been keeping him up nights, and he can't just slug a little girl. This is oddball comedy at its finest.
The crime element is well-handled here. The characters have to walk a tightrope, appearing to be ruthless enforcers for Labrazio while simultaneously protecting everyone from all these creatures and the Priest's zombies, making for some tense situations. When an inside job results in one of the Goon's hired toughs getting killed, everyone meets at Norton's Pub to try and figure who it was that ratted them out. Powell not only keeps you interested in the characters' plight, he manages to make you care that a swamp toad with poor hygiene and only a rudimentary grasp of the English language got an axe to the head.
Finally, Eric Powell's talents as an artist cannot be overlooked. Besides filling the book with a clean, colorful style that nevertheless makes excellent use of shadow and darkness, every cover is gorgeously hand-painted and suitable for framing. There's even a few unique touches that make it stand out. When a character called Buzzard begins sharing his origin story, the panel splits between his present self and his mental self-image from the past. Powell uses colors and inks for the present and represents the past in rough, sepia-toned pencil sketches. The transition not only works, it enhances.
The Goon is not for everyone, but if you're a fan of horror, sci-fi, broad comedy, or even crime dramas, you're punishing yourself by not reading it. There's talk of director David Fincher (Se7en, The Social Network) helming a CGI feature-film adaptation, which if it lives up to the teaser trailer, will be a genuine contender for best horror comic movie ever made. Give it a look, and tell us about your favorite horror comics in the comments!