One could argue that one of the biggest weaknesses of comic books is that nothing is sacred. Things never change and characters always get reset back to their recurring formulas — which is one of The Goon’s biggest weaknesses over the years. Writer/artist Eric Powell has very slowly evolved the character, but if this new miniseries is any indication things are a changing. But is it good?
The Goon: Once upon a Hard Time #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
From the opening panel longtime readers will notice something is very different with Goon. First of all, the customary humor is gone, with a very literal shot of a cinderblock that quickly finds its way through a window. From that moment on this script does not let up. Goon is on a mission, and it’s not a very happy one, with characters dying and Goon never cracking a smile. There’s a lot of violence in this issue, some of it taking place off panel, which makes it all the more horrific. If you finish this comic and don’t feel surprised and shocked you’re probably an unfeeling robot.
The use of color is pretty exceptional.
Powell writes what amounts to the opposite of what he’s written over the Goon’s history. A character who typically goes with the flow, here Goon is determined to end the lives of characters he’d customarily thrown into a dumpster and called it a day with in the past. We also consistently see Goon’s eyes, which are used to convey hurt, anger and rage. There’s nothing funny about this issue, and Powell ensures you won’t have fun with the characters around Goon feeling pain, fear and sorrow. It’s a change of pace many fans will have a hard time swallowing, but at the same time many will feel invigorated as there’s been nothing like this before it.
Powell casts much of this issue in a sepia tone which helps delude the mood into some kind of depressing dream. He infuses color at times, yellow, red and green, to convey a very specific feeling. It’s honestly pretty awesome how he’s used color and it gives the issue a bit of depth. This helps heighten the quality of the book, which is important considering how little dialogue there is. This issue is largely a visual story with a layout choice that never takes any chances. By keeping everything solid in their boxes Powell is telling us this comic is dead serious.
Is It Good?
A striking approach to a character that’s always been light and funny, Powell has done something truly special with the art and made Goon more captivating than ever.