story and art: Eric Powell
months ago, Wizard ran an article spotlighting Eric
Powell's rather unique creation. What they wrote up sounded
pretty interesting, but I'd never seen the book on the stands.
So when Dark Horse Comics decided to bring it under the rubric
of their new horror line, I was pretty happy.
that I've actually gotten to read it, I'm still pretty happy.
fills us in on what little backstory there is; I couldn't
tell you how many issues he'd self-published, but it probably
won't matter much except to completists. And this issue may
spark quite a few people to become such. It's a strangely
original mixture of horror, mob violence, the work of Elsie
Segar, and just plain odd comedy.
himself has no particular knowledge of the arcane, though
his carnie upbringing has given him some unique abilities
- like juggling chickens. An overdeveloped cross between The
Hulk and Popeye, what the strongman does know of the supernatural
is that he pretty much hates it.
position as enforcer for a dead mobster (he killed the guy
himself), The Goon (real name: Goon) stands as the only thing
keeping society at large from being overrun by zombies led
by a twisted southern preacher. Or as his sidekick Frankie
might put it, they spend a lot of time kacking slackjaws when
they could be tending to business.
not that the world of the living is so normal, either. But
Goon takes it in stride; after all, he grew up with circus
freaks as family. We, however, have to wonder exactly how
a giant spider in a black derby can be treated as just another
barfly. If you'll pardon the expression.
artwork runs the gamut from comical to grotesque, and though
he owes a debt to E.C. Comics, it's still a style all its
I mention that the town has been overrun by orangutans that
burst into flame? That's just background detail. Powell clearly
knows the secret to good comedy: monkeys are funny, but exploding
monkeys are even funnier.
check of the Dark Horse website, by the way, reveals that
this summer they will release a trade paperback of all The
Goon's appearances up until now. I can't wait.)
writer: Judd Winick
artists: Tom Raney and Scott Hanna
to be said for this fourth incarnation of this book (sort
of - the others all had "The" in the title), Raney and Hanna
definitely provide solid superhero art. In a few panels, they
get to demonstrate a little extra imagination for a bar meant
for metas only.
too, to be an artist drawing Roy Harper, you've got to have
fashion sense, because it appears he has his third different
costume this month. For a character like Arsenal, that almost
makes sense. Depending upon his current mission, he might
want to dress differently and appropriately for the given
situation. And yet Dick Grayson seems to get along just fine
with the standard Nightwing togs.
team also has a unique and intriguing take on Metamorpho.
Though his basic coloring remains the same, Raney and Hanna
also make it shifting, as if in a relaxed state Rex Mason
doesn't necessarily have complete control over the elemental
make-up of his body. They move around some, like, apparently,
where the book starts to get annoying. Winick explains Metamorpho's
random appearance at the end of Graduation Day, but
it's no more satisfying. Worse, it's also completely contradictory
to what DC has been busily establishing for the character
over the past year.
in its mystery it's a little better explanation than the one
provided in the JLA/JSA Secret Files last Christmas,
but not much better. What it costs Metamorpho is a family
life that has clearly been central to his recent appearances
in Birds of Prey.
with most of the other Outsiders, Winick builds from the ground
up. The mysterious blue female android from the future reappears,
eager to do penance for her part in the death of Donna Troy,
but with no better explanation as to what she was doing here
in the first place. Black Lightning's daughter Thunder has
been pretty fleshed out, even though this is pretty much her
Grace Choi, the strongman for the team, fits easily. Her connection
to Roy makes sense, though she takes a cheap shot at Roy Harper
for being a bigger horndog than Plastic Man. Really, if you
look over their pasts, three out of the four original male
Teen Titans qualify. Aqualad spent too much time in the water
personalities are strong, which only makes sense as Winick
has a gift for characterization. But the leaps in logic of
storytelling and violations of recently established continuity
are painful, and somewhat unnecessary.
the book resorts to Gorilla Grodd as its first major menace.
I'm all for monkeys in comics (see above), but the Groddster
has become second only to The Joker as an overused villain.
Over in The Flash, Geoff Johns did a pretty good job
of closing the door on the big ape for a while, but here he
is with an armed troop, just like the JLApe crossover
a few summers back.
City justice system is worse than Arkham Asylum.