The Goon in: A Place of Heartache and Grief
Author & Artist: Eric Powell
Colorist: Dave Stewart
First things first, I love reading the forewords to these Goon collections. They’re part of the Goon experience for me; I would be seriously disappointed if they shipped without one.
Eric Powell is pretty much a genius. He practically obliterated the fourth wall altogether; his plots and characters are utterly ridiculous, and yet I find myself emotionally invested in all of them. Powell wasn’t lying when he called it ‘A Place of Heartache and Grief’. Lonely Street lives up to its name in what is by far the most affecting Goon story yet. And that’s not to say that this volume is an entirely joyless endeavour, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The Goon, as always, is punctuated by several laugh out loud moments, provided mostly by his ethically challenged sidekick Franky. The rest of the laughs are provided by Powell’s colourful support cast, which he has slowly and dare I say lovingly built up over the years. The result is a rich culture and a town bustling with life. What this means is that when the Goon is down in the dumps, the whole story doesn’t have to go down with him. There’s still Franky, who’s just so despicable it’s funny; there’s the [relatively] new cast member Nagel the intelligent zombie; there’s those ratbag kids who’ll fight over anything including (but not limited to) ‘fish squeezin’s’; and of course, a rampaging giant transvestite.
Heartache and Grief sees a number of loose ends brought to a satisfying twist, and a number of old faces (thought lost) return. Eric Powell rewards his long-time readers for sharing Goon’s journey, and I think that’s where a great deal of the story’s power comes from. There’s an inherent intimacy with the Goon, having shared with him in so many experiences, and now sharing with him in his grief. The previous volume Chinatown, was the perfect setup for this story, exploring the dark corners of his past, whilst foreshadowing his coming loss. The Zombie Priest is relieved of his duties by the Priestly Order and it’s clear they mean business this time. Along with his replacement comes a demon from Goon’s past – could this be the return of Labrazio? Goon seems to think so and it’s driving him ’round the bend. As this mysterious figure does the rounds, control of Lonely Street slips through Goon’s chubby digits. With this dramatic change in status quo comes a feeling that the Goon and Lonely Street will never be the same again.
All of this is capped off with a hilarious Oprah parody. Such is Eric Powell; such is The Goon. It’s a juxtaposition of crazy cartoons, gangster politics and zombies, but it works. It just works.
‘A Place of Heartache and Grief’ is a great addition to an already great series. It really is the culmination of years of plot and character development. Seemingly disparate plot threads resurface and intertwine which will satisfy Goon fans to no end. But it’ll also leave them hungry for more. Everything is building to a head in Lonely Street, and I for one can’t wait to see what’s next.
If you’re looking to jump into the world of The Goon, start at Volume 2 and read all the way through.