Monday, 2 November 2009

‘The Goon: Calamity of Conscience’ – Eric Powell (Dark Horse Comics)

Remember the other day when I was talking about the sadness of coming to the end of a favourite series? While there’s hopefully a lot more to come from Eric Powell and the Goon, an absorbing and compelling storyline comes to an end in ‘Calamity of Conscience’ and I’m left looking for a new fix until ‘The Goon’ picks up again (although do I start buying the comics now or stick with the trades...?)
It’s been a long road but one that’s had more good than bad along the way, the ‘Christmas Carol’ story really didn’t do it for me but that was the only real blip in a series that edged ‘The Walking Dead’ as my personal favourite. To be fair though, while I’m a little sad to see it all end that’s nothing when compared to what the Goon has to go through...

War has come to the town on the edge of Horse Eater’s Wood and only one of the two gang leaders will be left standing by the end. Labrazio’s power is growing but the Goon has a few tricks left up his sleeve, one of these could prove decisive in the struggle. Nothing is certain though as there are still more twists and turns to come, any one of which could trip the Goon up. Unexpected reunions can prove deadly, even when they’re not meant to be...

The hardest hitting stories are when your favourite character wins it all and then loses everything else all in an instant, especially when you can see it coming and there’s nothing you (or anyone else) can do about it. This is ‘Calamity of Conscience’ in a nutshell. The Goon has already turned his back on the chance of happiness and now it’s time for him to pay the rest of the bill. Bella’s revelation, right at the end, makes it all the worse; especially as the Goon knows nothing about it. Half of me is hoping that this gets picked back up in the future but half of me hopes that it stays forgotten, how much more pain can one man take?

‘Calamity of Conscience’ was one book that I didn’t want to finish; partly because it’s the last in the series but also because Powell pours even more of what’s good about ‘The Goon’ into the book just so we can go out with a bang. And what a bang it is! There’s only going to be that one final fight and it’s suitably apocalyptic, maybe Powell chickens out a little on who makes it through but he more than makes up for this by the one person that doesn’t... It’s not just the fights that are intense either, various plot lines are being tied up and some of the emotion on display is raw to say the least. The Goon and Bella, Mirna finally getting to meet her brother again (even though he’s dead) and the Unholy Little Bastard’s new dog pining for his mother... The dialogue sizzles and even where there’s no dialogue at all Powell’s art (and Dave Stewart’s colouring) still conveys that sense of something enormous going on.

The dialogue also drives the plot along in the best possible way, powering it forward to that inevitable flurry of bullets and blood. Such as the confrontation between Buzzard and the Woky...

“Well Buzzard? What’s your answer? Please hurry. I can’t wait to take you to Hell, where we will peel your skin and fry it like bacon.”

“Why can’t I die? I... I don’t know the answer. But at a guess... I’d say... It’s so as I can kill you!”

‘Calamity of Conscience’ is full of moments like these and, coupled with the art, they kept me reading the whole way through. Not that I actually wanted to stop anyway!

Like I said earlier, I’m a little sad to see things come to an end with ‘The Goon’ (at least for now) but what a way to round things up! ‘Calamity of Conscience’ is Powell on top of his game. Just take my word for it and pick these books up, you can thank me later.

Ten out of Ten

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