Now Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Goon

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It’s been well over a year since an issue of the regular Goon series graced comic book shelves. The critically acclaimed series has been on hiatus since early 2006. Goon fans had to settle for the three issue Goon Noir series, which contain stories written and drawn by an all-star assortment of creators, and the adults-only Satan’s ****** Baby , a book too offensive and shocking to be included as an issue of the regular series.

But now the series is back, and on a regular schedule. Long time fans rejoice, but this is also a great time for new readers to jump on. This column will act as a primer to get you up to speed on the series.

The Goon first appeared in 1999 in a three issue series published by Avatar Press. How can you best describe The Goon ? Well, the best way I can is that it is a 1930s Victor McLaglen movie mixed in with some 1950s B-grade horror flicks and George Romero zombie films, only much, much more hilarious. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, downright gory and edge-of-your-seat action packed.

To most of the world, The Goon is known as the chief enforcer for a mob boss named Labrazio. In truth, he’s not. As a boy, he killed Labrazio and took over his rackets, acting as his enforcer to not raise suspicion. (Don’t feel too bad for Labrazio. He was indirectly responsible for the death of The Goon’s guardian, his Aunt Kizzie.)

The Goon works out of a place called Norton’s Pub settled in the worst part of, as far as I can tell, an unnamed town. His main competition is a character alternately called The Nameless Man or the Zombie Priest. He has tried muscling in on The Goon’s territory by creating an army of undead underlings.

In addition to the Nameless Man’s zombie hordes, The Goon also has to deal with giant lizards, bounty hunting werewolves, fish men with grudges and reverse zombies—living men who crave and eat undead flesh. It’s never a dull moment in the life of the Goon.

After his time at Avatar, Powell went the self-publishing route with a three issue series published by his Albatross Exploding Funny Books company in 2002. It was this series that garnered the attention of Dark Horse Comics, which is The Goon’s current publisher. It’s at Dark Horse where Powell won his three Eisner Awards, one in 2004 for Best Single Issue for The Goon #1 (which tied with Dark Horse’s Conan #0 for the award), and two in 2005 for Best Continuing Series and Best Humor Series.

The critical acclaim The Goon has received has been justified. It is one of the most original and inventive series to come along in a long time. Powell has created a completely self-contained world with its own logic and rules. The world contained within the pages is both completely bizarre and unbelievable, but also realistic within its strange self-defined boundaries.

Powell is one of those creators who excel both with his writing and his artistry. His humor is spot on; whether it is subtle throw away lines of dialog spoken by his characters or his broad parodies of classic Silver Age comic ads. But his stories are also filled with moments of sentimentality and also dramatic impact. Constant reference is made to a past event that took place in Chinatown, an event which had a profound effect on the Goon. (We will find out what happened on November 21st, when the 129 page Chinatown Goon original graphic novel is released. Creating this book is the reason why Powell took a year off from the regular series.)

And his artwork started out good and has gotten progressively better as the series has continued. He varies his style throughout, usually using pen and ink but using a softer style for flashback sequences. He has even used photographs several times during the series, during his fake ads and also as a framing sequence in one issue. His reputation as an artist has grown to the point that Marvel and DC have called on him to provide artwork for some of their comics, and his art improved the books he worked on there greatly.

The entire Goon series to date has been collected in six trade paperbacks—Rough Stuff, Nothin’ But Misery, My Murderous Childhood, Heaps of Ruination, Virtue and the Grim Consequences Thereof, and Wicked Inclinations .  All come highly recommended and might just come in handy to any new readers who join the series on its return.



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