By Davey Nieves
The Goon: Once Upon A Hard Time #1
Story & Art : Eric Powell
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
If there’s a textbook that exist on making comics, then Eric Powell probably wrote about half of it. The five time Eisner Award winner consistently crafts quality stories with every book he produces. His latest, The Goon: Once Upon A Hard Time is yet another example of how great a work of art comic books can be.
After the events of Occasion of Revenge, the witch coven that demolished Goon’s life is closer to their goal of total control of the unnamed town. Powell shows how a character like The Goon can only be bent but never truly broken. The series opening picks up in the middle of his vengeful rampage against the Magpies who played him for a fool and shattered his world. It wouldn’t be a Goon story if it wasn’t coming at him from all sides as he’ll also have to deal with an angry Don Rigatti who’s seeking payback of his own for Rory’s death in the perevious series. For anyone looking for the humor of the older stories, there’s none to be found here. This story is an unrelenting tale of a man pushed too far.
Books like this are rare. Once Upon A Hard Time uses emotion to justify its sheer gorgeous brutatlity. There’s anger, grief, and fervor bursting from the panels drawn by Eric Powell. Each nuance shows just how much the characters have become part of him. There’s only a handful of panels where Goon isn’t holding a bottle or a weapon, or a bottle to use as a weapon. After all these years of creating Goon stories, Powell doesn’t relent on any of the most minuscule details when it comes to character.
The previous Occasion of Revenge story marked a turning point for the character in more ways than one. Powell’s inking experiments on his own work refined his detailed touch and added more power to the emotions already expressed on the page. All this helped the shock value of seeing those bright colors on the final pages. Once upon a Hard Time continues the affair with color splash but Powell’s evolution in rendering emotion is what sets it apart. Every ghoul, monster, and human like face expresses feeling in a way that few horror books can. You’ll see just how far he takes it in the panels with spider.
Perhaps the most unique thing about Dark Horse’s 50th issue of The Goon is how new reader friendly it is. That’s odd because it really isn’t suppose to be. If you’re already a fan of The Goon you won’t be able to understand the direction of this issue unless you’ve read Occasion of Revenge. Those that have never read Goon, who can accept the premise at face value will find themselves in such a violent and gorgeous world that can’t help but go back and read them all.
Goon or Goonies Dave rants about it on twitter @bouncingsoul217