The nameless man, the zombie priest, had come to town to build a gang from the undead. But even the undead fear... THE GOON

Comic book series written and drawn by noted he-man and nogoodnik Eric Powell. It got its start back in 1998 in Avatar Press' "Dreamwalker" comic, but Powell was very unhappy with the quality of Avatar's comics and he quickly stopped submitting new material until his contract expired. He was unable to find another publisher after that, so he began self-publishing in 2002 with Albatross Exploding Funny Books, fronted by a mostly-fictional egomaniac named Dwight T. Albatross. Dark Horse Comics started publishing "The Goon" in 2003.

The main characters, or at least the most interesting ones, in the series include:

  • The Goon: a big, burly, taciturn guy with a face like a hatchet. He wears a green and black striped shirt and a flat cap pulled down over his eyes, and one side of his face has been heavily scarred. He likes drinking beer, beating up zombies and people who owe him money, self-pity, and hitting monsters with oversized wrenches.
  • Franky: a short, skinny, balding guy with blank Little Orphan Annie eyes. He's the Goon's right-hand man and likes to imagine that he's as tough and as hard-boiled as the Goon is. He likes drinking, chasing skirts, and shouting "KNIFE TO THE EYE!" during fights.
  • The Zombie Priest: Short, stooped, unquestionably evil, and surrounded by zombies. He wears a top hat with a man's skinned face stuck to it, and is served by a cat with a human face. He's the man who plagues the Goon and everyone else in town with zombies, or slackjaws, as well as other magical menaces. He's a terrible person.
  • Buzzard: The former sheriff of a small Western town where the Zombie Priest came as a traveling preacher. The Buzzard was the only person who didn't fall for the Priest's sermons, and he was the only person unaffected when the Priest killed everyone in town with a plague, then raised them as zombies. Enraged, he attacked the Priest, who attempted to use his necromancy on him -- but instead of turning him into a zombie, it instead made him a living man with an unquenchable hunger for the flesh of the undead. Tortured by his failures and his curse, Buzzard believes that only the Goon can save everyone from the Priest.
  • Norton: The mild-mannered bartender at Norton's Pub, the Goon's favorite hangout.
  • The Little Unholy Bastards: A bunch of damn moppets who keep making trouble around the neighborhood. They all live at the McGreg Home For Illegitimate, Wayward and Possibly Homicidal Youth.
  • Willie Nagel: One of the few slackjaws who can think and talk normally. He wears a jaunty bowler hat with a flower in the brim. He's one of the good guys.
  • Spider: A giant talking spider. He also wears a jaunty bowler hat. He gets to hang out in Norton's Pub, but he's a crook and scam artist, and the Goon beats him up pretty often.
  • Hieronymous Alloy: A mad scientist with metallic golden skin. He occasionally tries to help the Goon and the public, but sometimes goes insane and sends robots to attack everyone. He's very enthusiastic about creamed corn. (But who isn't?)
  • The Psychic Seal: A seal wearing a turban who can predict the future. Everyone can understand him, even though he can only speak in seal barks. He also has a tendency to insult people's mothers, so the Goon and Franky beat him up a fair bit.
  • Peaches Valentine: He's a demented fuckwit wearing diapers and a "Chick Magnet" t-shirt. He hollers nonsensical stuff and smears his poop all over the place.

There are also bog lurks and witches and robots and skunk-apes (who madly desire blueberry pie) (but who doesn't?) and harpies and hobos and giant squids and whatnot.

Now, as you might suspect at this point, despite the heavy emphasis on the slackjaws, this is less a horror comic and more an excuse for insane and offensive humor. This is, of course, in no way a bad thing, when done skillfully, and Eric Powell is a wonderfully skilled humorist. Which isn't to say this is high-brow humor -- I already called it insane and offensive, and I stand by that. But insane and offensive low-brow humor can be done well (Eric Powell) or it can be done stupidly (Tosh) -- Powell knows what's funny, and he knows how to make you laugh hard enough so you ain't embarrassed no more.

Among my favorite funny Goon moments are:

  • The Goon beating up vampires who've just literally covered themselves in glitter
  • The Goon and Franky taking a whole issue to brutally mock Marvel and DC Comics
  • The Goon beating up the world's largest and most monstrous transvestite while Franky has a dream about the Velveteen Horsey
  • Joey the Ball, a midget crime boss who got his hand stuck in a bowling ball years ago, so he now has a normal body and one grotesquely over-muscled arm with a bowling ball stuck to it
  • The Little Unholy Bastards disguising themselves to get into a burlesque show and saying, "Hello, I'm a grown man with a mustache that enjoys watching ladies shake their boobies about. Therefore I would like one ticket to your burlesque show, please, since I hear you have lots of boobies shaking about."
  • The Goon beating up a mule -- because he wanted to make sure she'd be so beat-up that the scumbag renting her out for deviant purposes wouldn't be able to make any money off her.
  • Eric Powell gleefully announcing to the world that he's sponsoring roller derby teams, burlesque performers, and cage fighters -- including photos of the cage fighter pushing Powell in a swing.
  • The fact that Powell published an issue entitled "Satan's Sodomy Baby" just to gin up some fake controversy.
  • And of course, anything featuring Peaches Valentine's poopy diapers or the ridiculous violence dished out on Spider.

It's not all poop jokes and inappropriate laughter. Some of the stories are far grimmer and more frightening than you may be expecting -- the Goon has to face off with zombies every day, and sometimes, something considerably more terrifying shows up. Powell has periodically shown a political side, too -- the Goon and Franky are both, incredibly, union men -- a fact which they once used against a villain -- and one issue focused on a thinly-disguised retelling of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911.

And then there's the tragedy. When Powell wants to write a sad story, he don't hold back. He'll toss a few out during the normal run of the comic, but you wanna see some amazingly epic tragedy? Go find Powell's "Chinatown" graphic novel. There are not many comic books as sad as this one. It doesn't pull on your heartstrings -- it chops through your heartstrings with a fireaxe and takes out the window and part of the wall behind it.

There's hope out there for the Goon's fans that he may get his own Hollywood movie, too. David Fincher and Blur Studio are set to produce a computer animated film, written by Powell himself. Clancy Brown has been named to voice the Goon, with Paul Giamatti playing Franky. The film may be stuck in development hell for the time being -- funding may be an issue -- but hopes remain fairly high that it'll eventually be made. For the time being, however, please enjoy this wonderful trailer.

There's tons of graphic novels and trade paperbacks of "The Goon." Go hassle your local comic shop about 'em. If they give you any trouble, give 'em a knife to the eye.

For SuperMegaNodeFestQuest 2012. Shazam! - Category: Review

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