Monday, 29 June 2009

‘The Goon: A Place of Heartache and Grief’ – Eric Powell (Dark Horse Comics)

You know how life can be; sometimes it’s not just content to knock you over, it has to rub your face in the dirt as well... It’s not like that all the time though. Sometimes life will knock you off your feet but will then proceed to not only help you back up but also send you on your way with a nice ice cream to make you feel better :o)
It’s not as if life has been particularly harsh, to me, just recently but I had spent ages trying to track down a copy of ‘Zombieworld: Winter’s Dregs’ only to find that the one place where I was positive it would be had somehow contrived to lose their only copy and had no idea where it was. That was ok though for not only did I get hold of a copy of ‘The Complete Zombies vs. Robots’ (more on that another time) but I also picked up a copy of the latest ‘Goon’ trade paperback. I didn’t even realise it was out (shame on me)... I picked that bad boy up faster than my debit card could say, “what the f...?!”

It’s been three months since the Zombie Priest’s demonic creations (‘Chug-Heads’, the offspring of Mother Corpse) made their appearance on Lonely Street, swinging things back in favour of the Zombie Priest and against the Goon and Franky. Our unlikely heroes have got their work cut out for them but so has the Zombie Priest as his determination to win has pushed things way too far, even for his own kind.
The Goon and Franky still manage to find time to hunt down missing people, and deal with a giant transvestite but the reappearance of old foes (and an old friend) is a sign of something big is brewing on Lonely Street. Things are never going to be the same again...

Powell is still playing for laughs and there are plenty of them in ‘A Place of Heartache and Grief’. The Goon’s treatment of Franky, over the bird women incident, had the guy sat next to me asking why I was laughing out loud for no apparent reason. Likewise any part of the book where the Little Unholy Bastards make an appearance. Franky is always good for a chuckle as well, especially when we get to see what he dreams about as well as learning the important lesson of not eating anything that a zombie has cooked (especially coconut cake)...

The laughs take second place though to the big event that this book is heralding. Things are different now. The Goon has been used to relying on brute force to power his way through everything but the stuff happening now has him totally foxed especially when an old face, from his past, returns. This approach adds a new twist to things that injects the story with a new burst of freshness whilst, at the same time, giving us all the familiar stuff that I love. We get to hear a lot more of what the Goon is thinking and this opens another window into the mind of a character that is becoming ever more complex.

The dialogue is as sharp and quirky as ever but this time round it was the panels with no dialogue at all that were particularly intense and emotional. I’m a big fan of Powell’s artwork (especially in the later ‘Goon’ books) but the facial expressions he draws here really tugged at me with the rawness on display. The death of Norton’s mother, Goon’s first glimpse of Labrazio and the subsequent trip to the graveyard are the stand out moments for me.

‘A Place of Heartache and Grief’ sees ‘The Goon’ overtake ‘The Walking Dead’ as my favourite comic book series. It’s essential reading as far as I’m concerned...

No comments: