Reader Beware Month: The Goon, Vol. 0

Earlier in the month, I talked about a detective story with a supernatural twist, R. I. P. D.  Today’s comic is on the total opposite side of the law.  It’s a story about a mob war between your run-of-the mill, every day thugs… and zombies.  It’s got vampires, werewolves, giant fish men, and a never-ending horde of those familiar undead.  Allow me to introduce you to The Goon.

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The Goon is the right hand man and personal strong arm of the meanest mobster in town, Labrazio.  The Goon and his pal, Franky, are stuck in a territory battle with another mob leader, the Zombie Priest.  Ever since the Zombie Priest came into town, the dead just don’t stay dead.  It’s up to the Goon and Franky to keep the streets clean of those walking corpses and also keep Labrazio’s territory going strong.

I first heard of the Goon when I came across the trailer for the (still being made to my knowledge) movie sometime last year.  The trailer got me hooked immediately and I hunted down a copy of this collection.  The collection I’m talking about today is considered “Volume 0” also titled “Rough Stuff.”  It collects the 3 issues that were the Goon’s roots and also a few random strips that seem like Sunday Comic parodies.

In a forward for the collection, Eric Powell (creator, writer, and artist of the story), says that he thinks these three issues suck.  Personally, I don’t fully agree with him.  It more seems very rough around the edges.  The artwork, while decent, is a bit scratchy and muddy.  Some of the characters look a bit distorted compared to how they looked in later issues.  The writing was also a bit weird in the bad sense.  A section with a talking chainsaw was particularly head scratching.  Still, the foundation was pretty good.  The Goon’s origin story in this is very original.  The characters are all solid and funny.

The best thing about Volume 0 is the world it creates.  This is a world of mobsters and monsters, so everything feels appropriately gritty.  For me, it almost has a noir feel, especially as Goon tells his origin story.  The dynamic and comradery between Goon and Franky is done extremely well.  They always have each other’s backs, even if those backs are covered in demon rats.

This is a good introduction for the Goon.  Is it the best in terms of artwork and story?  No.  I think the hardest judge of this is Eric Powell himself.  But it’s still a solid foundation for what has become one of my favorite comics.  The artwork and storytelling does get cleaned up quite a bit by the next volume (Volume 1: Nothin’ But Misery, to be talked about at a later date).  Still, if you’re interested in knowing the story’s humble beginning, try this one for size.  Unless you wanna be sleepin’ with the fishes…

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