Writer/Artist: Eric Powell
Publisher: Dark Horse
Plot: Repercussions from last issue's tussle with Dr. Alloy's robots are felt throughout as the Goon gets hauled off to Cade's Island Penitentiary where he is harassed by a warden who's got it in for him. Meanwhile, overhearing that the Goon is in the slammer, the boys from the McGregg Home for illegitimate, wayward, and possibly homicidal youth hatch a plan to spring the big brute while his sidekick Frankie sends the Mudds on a similar assignment.
Comments: First off, whenever you read or hear the words "Youse mugs" in a story, that's a sure giveaway that it can't possibly stink. I think back to those wonderful Batman cartoons from the early 90's and how it would never fail to put a big grin on my face to hear Mr. Scarface utter those lines while the ventriloquist squirmed in the background. "Now listen up Youse mugs." You just knew Batman was going to swoop down, thwart his plans and put the smackdown on his cronies, but half the fun was getting there! The line is uttered in this book as early as page two as Smitty, the leader of the wayward boys tells the others about his plans to bust the Goon out of prison. I didn't find issue #12 to be hilarious, though I did chuckle quite a bit. This issue had me busting up repeatedly. Maybe I was in a great mood when I read it. Reading it definitely enhanced it. The opening dialogue between Frankie and the Mudds is so absurd, it's damned funny, which I guess has always been a trademark of this book. Yet it's the boys who utter and perform the most comic absurdities as they plan their escape from old lady McGregg. Sure, she's a stock caricature, but Powell manages to make her realistic while concurrently spoofing people of her ilk and that's great writing. The requisite prison brawl is there, but it's balanced with a genuine moment of characterization and introspection in a later scene between the Goon and Dr. Alloy. The former realizes he can't stick around or some punk wanting to make a name for himself might get lucky and finds a way to bust himself out. The latter's remarks ring true when he opts to stay locked up "safe from the temptation to meddle in the affairs of man." The artwork in this comic has been compared to the classic horror EC comics of the 50s, I think with good reason. Powell manages to approximate those lofty images at times. Another of the book's assets appears to be his mastery of narrative and visual economy, opting for minimalism in favor of numerous captions describing every minute detail. Consider this issue's cover as an example and juxtapose it with a recent cover of Action Comics where Superman is besieged by unnecessary words below his logo almost as much as by that month's adversaries. Sometimes folks, a picture really is worth 1,000 words.
Final Word: You have to give Powell a lot of credit, as this comic book is one of those rare products which actually lives up to its hype. Page for page, this is simply one of the best books on the stands today. Sometimes silly doesn't work, but in the bizarre milieu of the Goon, it turns into an irresistible romp. I can definitely picture myself scouring the back issue bins for more copies of this one, and I look forward to snatching a few copies of the 25 cent Goon comic.
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