Sunday, October 25, 2009

Super-Powered Comics: The Goon: Chinatown & the Mystery of Mr. Wicker

This will be the last week of regular updates on this page for quite some time. Starting at the beginning of November, I will be participating in the annual National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. Nanowrimo. I might stop in with a couple irregular reviews (just to break up the writing of the novel), but otherwise I will be concentrating on my 50,000 words. But for now, let’s get to the review.

Eric Powell has been writing and drawing The Goon for over a decade at this point, but we never really got a good look at the character’s past. That changes in Chinatown and the Mystery of Mr. Wicker. The story moves back and forth from the past (told in beautiful sepia tones) and the present day (in the book’s regular palette. After a short introduction, we meet Shorty and his chanteuse sister Mirna. They both regularly work at Goon’s favorite bar.

Mirna’s good looks bring us back to a younger, unscarred Goon. He sees another beauty as he visits Chinatown and the ancient warlord that serves as the neighborhood’s crime boss. Needless to say, Goon gets embroiled in the dame’s life which leads to more problems between his and Frankie’s own burgeoning crime empire and that of the Chinatown set.

In the present, Goon deals with a very different problem, that of the strangely covered new crime boss Mr. Wicker.

The two stories weave in and out of each other with the subtle grace of the most talented filmmaker. It is a style not often seen in comics but works to perfection under Eric Powell’s able hand.

Both plots build to a fevered pace, but it is the past story of Chinatown that really shows the skill of Powell. In the process, we learn the origin of the powerhouse’s trademark look.

Let me just say that I know The Goon is by no means everyone’s cup of tea. But if you like Hellboy, if you like Umbrella Academy, hell, if you just like some one of the finest pieces of graphic fiction this decade, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of Chinatown. Highest Recommendation.

No comments: