"The Goon: Volume 11 - The Deformed of Body and the Devious of Mind" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Eric Powell and Evan Dorkin
Illustrated by Eric Powell
2012, 144 Pages
Trade Paperback released on June 27th, 2012
I've been sitting here staring at my computer screen for a few minutes trying to tell you why you should be reading The Goon by Eric Powell, but I'm having trouble finding a place to start. How about I start with the reasons you shouldn't be reading the book? That's an easier thing to do because there aren't any. Seriously, The Goon is probably the funnest comic book you'll read all year and for good reason. Powell crams each chapter with a load of content and ton of jokes without ever feeling silly or otherwise ridiculous.
The comic follows the title character, a slightly disfigured thug, during the Industrial Revolution. His buddy Franky is a small guy with a smart mouth and a penchant for dames and mischief. The pair get into a few get-rich-quick schemes that usually end with the Goon repeatedly punching some monster in the face. This volume, The Deformed of Body and the Devious of Mind, collects a chunk of comics where our heroes encounter everything from Twilight-esque vampires and demon carnivals to burlesque dancers and a hobo army.
There's rarely a cohesive story that follows the characters from issue to issue in The Goon. This is something I both love and hate. It's great because you can pick up any one of the comics and jump right in without feeling like you missed something, but I dislike it because that comic nerd in me wants a growing continuity. That being said, it takes a special kind of talent in a writer to be able to tell a comprehensive story in a single chapter but Powell accomplishes this time and time again. His record is pretty spotless.
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Of all the stories collected here, I'm hard pressed to find a favorite. If I had to pick one, it would have to be The Goon's on Vacation, which looks like it first appeared as a backup strip in the regular comic. It starts out in such a simple way, with the Goon and Franky relaxing by the water, but then they're disturbed by the Mighty Fog Hat and some crazy loin cloth wearing dude bursts in and steals their hot dogs. Faced with no other option, they follow the loon into the Hobo Jungle where we all learn a valuable lesson on what it means to read superhero comics. (The phrase "Mexican-Jew-Baby Raper" is used.) The way things escalate in this comic is insane but so damn funny and well worth the read.
Powell illustrates every piece of this book and does a fantastic job. His work is clean and well detailed. His range is also pretty impressive. He can go from drawing disgusting creatures like the Ten-in-One, a gross amalgamation of ten carnival workers, to drop dead gorgeous women in burlesque. Where Powell absolutely nails it is when the Goon punches something. It happens a lot, so it's something of a signature pose for the character. Whether it's a crocodile or midgets of all nations, the Goon is going to make his fists do the talking.
As I said earlier, The Deformed of Body and the Devious of Mind is probably the most fun I've had reading a comic in some time. It's refreshing to read a book that doesn't take itself too seriously. It also doesn't take the obvious jokes either. This volume opens up with the Goon coming face-to-face with a parody of the vampires from Twilight. Instead of spending the whole chapter beating them to a pulp, he does it in a single page and then jumps to a story that's way creepier. It would have been easy to just turn it into a Twilight hate issue, but Powell got his jabs in and then went on to tell a pretty great story. Enough talk, get out there and read The Goon!