April 7, 2010

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Goon Volume 5

Written by Eric Powell (with Tom Sniegoski and Mike Hawthorne)
Illustrated by Eric Powell (with Neil Vokes, Kyle Hotz, Michael Avon Oeming, Mike Hawthorne, Tony Shasteen, and Mike Allred)
Dark Horse

The Buzzard returns and learns a secret that could end the zombie problem on Lonely Street once and for all. But will his cure end up making more trouble for the Goon than ever? Plus, how do you prevent a gypsy curse? With union help, of course! All this and zombie clowns, too. It's more perverted insanity from Eric Powell in the Grusome Goon Graphics!

This volume is sort of a mix of the move to a consistent story and breaking things up issue by issue. Like older capes comics, they're designed to be enjoyable enough on their own, but read together, they make more sense. It's a storytelling style that's all but lost today, in this era where publishers just aren't willing to admit they want to release everything in trade and keep breaking down 200 page stories into six parts.

We begin with Powell altering his art style to look more like wood blocks ala Rick Geary in order to tell a flashback. It's a trick he uses on more than one occasion, and it always looks great. The link he makes between folklore and the current story is brilliant and completely unexpected. It sets up the rest of the volume (as well as a lot of future stories) nicely. The reaction of the Goon and the Old Priest to this new wrinkle both make sense, and how they deal with the change in status quo is going to be fun to watch.

The Goon was perfectly fine as things stood, but I like the idea that Powell is willing to shake things up a bit, without altering what makes the Goon such a great comic. The characters are still as irreverent as ever, the humor is as crude as can be, and the fundamental idea (Goon is a mob man somewhere in the early Twentieth Century) is unchanged. What's different is that we're not going to see the same joke about killing zombies done over and over again. Given how exposed zombies are these days (I keep waiting for Jughead: Zombie Ignorer), that's a good move in my opinion.

My favorite story, which plays out while the new status quo is being assembled, is the Goon versus the Gypsy. Unwilling to allow his friends to come to harm, the Goon quickly comes up with a solution that's so absurd it's perfect. I was laughing out loud as I hit the punchline. I'm sure you will, too.

I guess this part of the single issue run had backups, as the stories felt a bit shorter and there's supplemental material written or drawn by some people who can think in the style of Powell. Seeing Oeming work on a Goon short makes me wish for me, particularly if they can rope Bendis into writing it. (Imagine the patter between the Goon and Frankie!) Allred's dual contributions (a pinup and an introduction) are welcome, especially his lengthy story about how Madman almost ended up as the Goon. I'm glad we got things as they happened, and Mike is, too.

The plot thickens as we move forward in the Goon, and that's always a good thing. While it's often as offensive as possible, I love this series and Powell's amazing art, even when drawing the most foul things imaginable, drive a great story. By this point, you really do need to be reading from prior volumes, but those wondering if it's worth it can rest assured: The Goon is every bit as goon here as it was at the start. Possibly even better. This series continues to be highly recommended.