Review – The Goon: Once Upon A Hard Time #1 (Dark Horse)

21206Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Eric Powell
Artist: Eric Powell
Release Date: 4th February, 2015

The bigger picture has become frighteningly clear, as Eric Powell’s masterwork enters perhaps its most important arc. With the battle for The Goon’s soul all but won, our hero is hurtling headlong towards a fate embraced by so many others on Lonely Street. As has been shown before in this series, though, dying with hatred in one’s soul merely sustains the twisted eco system, and leads to even greater power for those who know how to wield it.

There’s barely a moment is this issue where we see the Goon without a drink in his hand. It’s an all too familiar road travelled by those in times of anguish or despair, and one that can wreak terrible damage on your body over time. At one point, it would appear he contemplates bypassing the seemingly inescapable years of agony by literally destroying his insides, perhaps in an attempt to permanently numb the torturous pain that has begun to consume his soul.

This is the Goon at his most volatile, but also at his most vulnerable. We see him mercilessly beat, torture, and murder both those deserving of his wrath, and some poor unfortunates caught in the eye of the storm. But we also see him in moments of reflective contemplation, wracked with grief and with seemingly no hope of escape, something Powell neatly highlights by framing him in a ‘cage’ at points. There is also a delicious irony in the way a heart is used to locate one of his quarry, given how his own heart has been used to turn the tide of the battle.

It’s just another example of Powell’s ability to effortless convey richly textured, character focused stories, which draw your attention to certain aspects of each panel through bold outlining and an incredible level of depth and detail. This helps him disguise the deeper message or meaning to a degree, which only then becomes apparent as the tale unfolds, or on a second (or perhaps third) reading.

If this is to be the last Goon story, at least as we know him (and believe me, there are strong hints here that it might indeed be), it looks like he’s going out in a blaze of blood-soaked glory, and it’s a ride no-one should deny themselves the opportunity of witnessing.

Rating: 5/5.

MDAVThe Writer of this piece was: Martin Doyle
You can follow Martin on Twitter
You can check out more of Martins reviews and thoughts on random retro things over at Retromuse

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