He Won’t Bite! Getting to Know ‘The Goon’

He Won’t Bite! Getting to Know ‘The Goon’

You’d think there wouldn’t be much to a comic full of zombies, monkeys and jokes about creamed corn, but then again, it’s hard to overlook the pulp-influenced spunk in a book like “The Goon.” That’s not to say that anyone is ignoring what the series has to offer, either: Recently, creator Eric Powell and director David Fincher took to Kickstarter and raised more than $400,000 for the book’s film adaptation. So, here’s a look at the best books to discover before “The Goon” hits Hollywood.

“The Goon Volume 1: Nothin’ But Misery,” by Eric Powell
To understand all that “The Goon” has to offer, it’s ideal to start with this introduction. “Nothing But Misery” establishes the various characters of the series, while presenting the tragic back story of the enigmatic Buzzard. With each chapter, a bit more of the world is exposed, from the trouble down by the docks to bad memories in Chinatown — even a bit of Psychic Seal who just won’t stop running his mouth. “The Goon” shifts its tone to fit a variety of situations — such as when Goon and Franky meet Santa — but it’s worth noting that Powell makes it all believable.

“The Goon Volume 2: My Murderous Childhood and Other Grievous Years,” by Eric Powell
In any other setting, the Goon might be the bad guy. After the death of a local crime boss, our hero trudges into the city with the plan to take over the protection racket for himself. But underneath that, there’s a real sense of honor and decency, something that separates him from the riff-raff and paranormal villains that plague his town. Seeing how it all starts, when Goon meets Franky, helps to contrast an honest thug with, well, a zombie priest.

“The Goon Volume 3: Heaps of Ruination,” by Eric Powell
To casual comic book readers, there may be some overlap between the supernatural hijinks in “The Goon” and the paranormal disturbances battled by Hellboy. Lucky for us, a well-positioned crossover pits the two against the Communist Airborne Mollusk Militia, which should be enough violence to definitively smash any rift between what’s Lovecraftian fantasy and what’s an homage to pulp-horror comics. Then again, fans of both will love this trade, so maybe it doesn’t matter who winds up kicking undead butt.

“The Goon Volume 6: Chinatown and the Mystery of Mr. Wicker,” by Eric Powell
Sure, the presence of a skunk-ape driven into a murderous rage over pie or a swamp ogre with a love of inflatable chickens does give “The Goon” a sort of dark whimsy, but none of that takes away from the book’s emotional depth and sparse, yet effective, character development. Chinatown finally explains the significance of Goon’s scars, both physical and mental, by offering a look at where the man has been and what that means for his future. It’s a seminal read, bolstered by Powell’s artwork.

“The Goon Volume 8: Those That is Damned,” by Eric Powell
With all of the slackjaws, vampires and succubi, there’s only one spectre that the Goon truly fears: Labrazio. This means it’s not exactly great news that someone has reanimated the mobster’s corpse and sent him after everything the gang holds dear. But, years of fighting dark magic have helped Goon and Franky assemble a dangerous crew of allies to put an end to whoever or whatever created this new, blue Labrazio. This is the culmination of the first decade of “The Goon,” and it’s an ideal gateway to the rest of the series.

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