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Comic Book / The Goon

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The Goon is Eric Powell's award-winning fantasy comic book series, published by Dark Horse Comics. Goon, a muscle-bound former freak circus assistant, is the top enforcer of the secretive mob boss Labrazzio, and he is at war for the control of the city with the Nameless Zombie Priest, who directs zombie hordes from his citadel at Lonely Street. Together with his loudmouthed sidekick Frankie, Goon battles zombies, robots, aliens and mad scientists. Mostly with his fists.

A Genre-Busting epic of pitch-black humor, tragedy, and utterly grotesque monsters getting punched in the face, any description pales in comparison to the real thing. The Goon is a comic where a vampire gets set on fire while being tied to the hood of a car zooming around the town. The Goon is a comic where a Wild West zombie hunter must eat the flesh of his prey. The Goon is a comic where the main character must blow up a burlesque but is diverted by a giant, violent transvestite.

Eric is working with David Fincher and the crew down at Blur Studio to turn the Goon into an animated feature film. A proof of concept preview came out around Comic-Con 2010. There was a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for it. Although things seem to be going forward with Tim Miller now being involved, and as of May 16th 2019, finally greenlit at Fox/Disney. However, after no news for three years, Miller would announce during SDCC 2022 that the project would move to Netflix and be directed by former Disney animator Patrick Osborne (Feast, Love, Death & Robots).

A Roleplaying Game of the series using the Savage Worlds system has been released.

A sequel series, revolving around the Goon and Frankie leaving the carnival and returning to the Nameless Town, only to need to rebuild their criminal empire from the ground up, launched in March 2019.

This series provides examples of:

  • Anti-Villain: Dr. Alloy, a Well Intentioned ExtremistKlutz of a Mad Scientist who suffers from both a tendency to engage in science experiments that go hideously wrong and outbursts of actively hostile insanity.
  • The Atoner: Buzzard. He wasn't able to stop the Zombie Priest from killing and enslaving the town he was sheriff of so he intends to kill the Priest no matter the cost.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Rather often. One of the earliest stories involves the Goon having to kill a gargantuan zombie chimpanzee.
  • Big Bad: The Nameless Man, The Zombie Priest.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Issue 53, the end of "Once Upon a Hard Time" (which Powell himself calls a series finale) wraps up threads from the very beginning of the series. The Goon finally kills the rest of the Nameless Man's coven (including the Nameless Man himself). Through an act of compassion, he manages to avoid the damnation and death that have been hounding him throughout the miniseries, and even finds a way to break (or at least weaken) the curse surrounding the town. However, the Goon is clearly burned out by recent events, and leaves the town with Frankie in tow, possibly forever. Although he finds happiness for the first time in a very long while working at the circus he grew up at, the ending and epilogue make it clear this will not last.
  • Big Eater: Greedy Gut, the Hobo god is this to a villainous degree, even eating his own Hobo worshippers at times.
  • Black Comedy: The series runs on making fun of the creepiest, darkest, scariest and most depressing things it can, sometimes stretching into Dead Baby Comedy — at least literally once or twice.
  • Blank White Eyes: Frankie is drawn with these, given his more "cartoony" status compared to the other characters in the setting.
  • Call-Forward: Young Goon hitting the Zombie Priest in the face with a rock because he "didn't like the look of 'im".
  • Celebrity Star: After a cameo in #20, real-life burlesque star Roxie D'Lite appears in #36 as the main villain.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The tone of the series after Chinatown, to a certain extent. Vol. 11 takes things back into silly territory, though.
  • Circus Brat: The Goon himself, who was originally raised by his Aunt Kizzie.
  • Circus of Fear: Brigadoon's Dreamland Carnival, a malicious parody of the classic 1930s film, Freaks, where deformed outcasts torment or murder normal people in assorted Carnival games. Even the Goon and Franky were disgusted by it.
  • Crapsack World: Whilst it's eventually revealed that there's a genuine curse on the region where the Goon hangs out which is at least partially to blame, the Goon's world is seriously messed up. There's an evil necromancer running around who wants to cause a Zombie Apocalypse, Mad Scientists like Dr. Alloy running rampant, a "swine revolution" has made pork meat a hot commodity analogous to liquor during Prohibition, a crazed airforce of communist cephalopods wants to rule the world, hobos are gibberish-spouting cannibals, and basically all manner of murderers, maniacs and monsters thrive in the place. It's no wonder a brutal badass of a mob boss who won't put up with any of this crap comes off as heroic by comparison.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Inverted. The Zombie Priest created the Buzzard in a case of Magic Misfire; the Buzzard had a gun to the Nameless Preacher's face and so he panicked and went with his first impulse, which was to zap Buzzard with the zombifying spell. This instead turned him into an effectively immortal necrophage with a particular grudge against the Nameless Preacher. To say nothing of how the Preacher provoked Buzzard into that initial confrontation by tormenting him.
  • Crossover: With Hellboy and Metalocalypse.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "They glued it back together... With Glue!"
  • Disappeared Dad: Goon's father unceremoniously dumped him with his Aunt Kizzie, having already killed the mother and threatening to throw baby Goon into the river if she didn't take him.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom
  • Dragon Ascendant: The Goon himself, having killed Labrazzio and stolen his empire whilst claiming to be "just" the gangster's top enforcer, so as to have people go gunning for his non-existent boss instead. However, this is only a In-Universe secret in the "Rough Stuff" Issue 0 comics and in any Whole Episode Flashback stories, and by the time of Issue 1 the Goon's secret is out and he's openly the boss.
  • Driven to Suicide: Happens to the Buzzard, repeatedly. Unfortunately for him, he can't die.
  • Driving Question: What happened in Chinatown? Eventually explained in the titular arc: years ago, after growing to adulthood, the Goon met Isabella, a girl he had always loved back in the Circus, as the slave of Xiang Yao, a Chinese mob-boss in the local Chinatown, and eventually bartered with Xiang Yao for her freedom. He has the time of his life courting her, falling deeply in love and even considering giving up the mobster lifestyle so he can have a decent life with her. And then she breaks his heart by telling him to his face that she "doesn't want him". Blinded by grief, the Goon goes to confront the Chinese mob-boss, whose gang has been pushing the Goon's gang out of the city, only for the mob boss to turn out to be a shapeshifting dragon. In the fight, the Goon gets his characteristic facial scars and dead eye after the dragon slashes his face and then burns his body. Isabella leaves town without saying a word, refusing to even go and see Goon in the hospital, with an indignant Frankie warning her never to come back.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Parodied here and there. Lovecraft Lite is definitely applicable, as they're invariably beaten up by the Goon.
  • Enfant Terrible: In a world like the Goon's, it should be no surprise that many kids who're vicious, ruthless little monsters show up.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Houstous Grave, the Nameless Preacher's gravedigger, lights out of Lonely Street and the city entirely when the Preacher creates Mother Corpse, decrying it as a blasphemy even he wants nothing to do with.
  • Eye Scream:
    • Frankie's favorite "Knife to the Eye" attack.
    • The Nameless Preacher gouges out one of his own eyes with his bare hand in order to power the Black Magic ritual that creates Mother Corpse and her chughead spawn.
    • When the Arab first chases the Nameless Preacher down, he gouges out the Preacher's other eye.
    • The Preacher's familiar sacrifices one of his own eyes so his master can see again. When the Preacher rallies himself to stand against the coming of the Coven, he takes the cat's other eye by force, then kills and eats him for good measure.
  • Eye-Obscuring Hat: Word of God confirms the only time that Goon's eyes aren't obscured by his hat are for emotional impact.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: For a book having zombies, aliens, giant robots, mutants, sea monsters, a talking spider, Cockney-sounding demons, kaiju, mad scientists, vampires, werewolves, cannibalistic hobos, aerodynamic militant communist octopi and a man who feasts on the flesh of the dead, you could say the Goon uses this trope.
  • Fastball Special: The Goon does this with Frankie, naturally.
  • The Film of the Book: Currently in preproduction.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: Although the Goon goes through a lot of trauma in his life, the Chinatown story-arc reveals that Isabella's rejection of the Goon's feelings for her was perhaps one of the worst emotional blows he suffered and he's never really gotten over her.
  • First-Episode Twist: At the end of the first series (which is only three issues long), it is revealed that, Labrazio was Dead All Along, and The Goon is the real man in charge. Exaggerated when this story arc was relegated to the "Volume 0: Rough Stuff" status, with the first "real" issue opening with a summary of Goon's origins, meaning this was spoiled on the 5th page, and the fact that this truth has become openly known In-Universe, to the point Houstous unwittingly ticks his boss off by commenting on how much effort the Nameless Preacher wasted on trying to find and kill a dead man.
  • From Bad to Worse:
    • After the Goon's football career was ended when his team was gunned down by the Black Hand, the city's enraged occupants rose up and massacred the two gangs that comprised it. Unfortunately, this left a power vacuum that the Nameless Preacher was quick to fill — using the bodies of the former gangsters to bulk up his zombie army in the process.
    • Eventually, the Goon/Buzzard team-up makes it impossible for the Zombie Priest to get the corpses he needs to produce zombies... so, he gambles all his remaining forces on securing the corpse of a pregnant woman, which he then reanimates and mutates via a Black Magic ritual to create "Mother Corpse", who constantly produces horrifically deformed demon-zombie babies, giving him an even stronger army than before.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Goon and Franky, who started out as absolute nobodies — a humble carny kid and a rather milquetoast city kid, respectively — and went on to become the city's most feared crimeboss and his Psycho Supporter, respectively.
  • Funny Animal: Spider... a shiftless, deadbeat Giant Spider in a derby hat with a gambling problem.
  • Genre-Busting: Action comedy-urban fantasy-Pulp adventure pastiche-Noir crime fiction-dramedy
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Kizzie wound up getting an abortion after she was pressured into it by her then-lover in the circus, though she wound up regretting this when her lover died in an accident. When Goon was dumped on her she decided she'd raise him in place of the child she would have had.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: The Goon's trademark facial scars and dead eye are this, though hidden most of the time. But how does this work with a Sociopathic Hero?
  • Goth Girls Know Magic: Lydia Brewster is a Witch Classic but with some goth-girl markers — septum ring, black lipstick, lots of cleavage.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: El Hombre de Lagarto only speaks (intentionally bad) Spanish.
  • Guile Hero: The Goon may be strong enough to beat a man to death with his bare hands, but he is also extremely smart and cunning.
  • The Hecate Sisters: Mother Brewster, Granny and Lydia are the usual coven of varied age, although they are actually grandmother, mother and daughter instead of being unrelated.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Frankie, who is a sexually depraved, psychotic, hair-trigger murderous maniac, but also Goon's staunchly loyal best friend and his blood-thirsty antics are played for laughs.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Goon and Frankie. Both of them are sexually attracted to women, but are always seen together, as their friendship has proven stronger and deeper than any relationship either has managed to attain.
  • Hobos: As befits this Crapsack World, hobos — or at least those who hang around the Goon's city — are essentially a gibberish-speaking Cannibal Tribe who serve as a reoccurring source of minor dangers.
  • Hunter of Monsters: Buzzard serves as this to the Priest in particular and zombies in general.
  • I Know Your True Name: The Zombie Priest is on the receiving end of this after Buzzard's attempt to just lay down and die in the roots of a tree leads him to a Spirit Vision of the Priest's real name: Rumplestiltskin.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Isabella. Twice.
  • Kaiju: El Lagarto Hombre began as this, summoned by an Eldritch Abomination that Goon beat to death. Dr. Alloy created a much smaller clone after the original version was killed.
  • Karmic Death: Issue 37. A factory owner and his shoddy policies accidentally cause the death of 142 (mostly female) factory workers. When the survivors go on strike and get the Goon to support the union, the factory owner gets the help of demonic forces. While in the middle of a "The Reason You Suck" Speech while staring at the riot down below, he sees the face of a widow that worked in his factory that he saw at the trial. She disappears and appears in his room, explaining how while she died, she will have justice.
  • King of the Homeless: The Hobo King, who seems to be Bob Dylan.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Buzzard converses with a ghost who killed several people - including his own wife and child - to feed a cannibalistic mistress he lusted after. The mistress however, didn't return the favor and left him to starve.
  • Mood Whiplash: The series is as good at drama as it is at comedy, and often switches between the two.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The man who would become Buzzard was content drinking himself into a shallow grave, until the Zombie Priest came by to taunt him and lord his takeover of the town over him, spurring the man to his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Noodle Incident/Noodle Implements: Many of them. Frankie uses this trope when he talks about his sexual escapades, or describes the action in the metacomic, "The Goon and Satan's Sodomy Baby." There's also a character named Charlie (ahem) Noodles, who is always discussed in stories but never seen. There's also a few other ones here and there.
    • Chinatown was one until it had an arc devoted to it.
  • No One Sees the Boss: Nobody sees Labrazzio... Because he's been dead for years and the Goon is the real boss on a lifelong masquerade of Obfuscating Stupidity. Dropped after the Goon's real role in leading the gang is made evident.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: A historic instance of this - combined with a spot of Love Makes You Evil - is apparently responsible for the curse on the city.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Zigzagged with the Goon. In the stories set before the present day, though he presents himself as just Labrazio's enforcer, he doesn't really make any attempt to feign being Dumb Muscle. After his status as the real boss of Labrazio's mob is revealed, he stops bothering to make any attempt to hide his skills.
  • One-Winged Angel / Scaled Up: Xiang Yao does this at the end of Chinatown, by reverting to his true form as a Chinese Dragon.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Buzzard is a human being from the days of the Wild West placed under a curse by the Zombie Priest that basically makes him a Ghoul, or an "Anti Zombie" — a living person condemned to wander the earth feeding on the flesh of the (preferably walking) dead. As a side-effect, he is effectively immortal, neither aging nor dying from mortal wounds. Of course, he hates the Zombie Priest and is now tailor-made to do battle against him.
  • Our Product Sucks: The omnibus editions of Volume 1 self-published when Volume 2 came out have the overall title of The Goon: Bunch of Old Crap.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: As the story uses a setting vaguely reminiscent of the 1920s, both Goon and Frankie (particularly Frankie) can say stuff that's rather politically incorrect by modern standards. For example, Frankie referring to the deformed Grave kids and the chugheads as "Mongoloids".
  • Retool: The first volume of the comic (released as a volume 0: "Rough Stuff") had a busier art style and less direction, and Powell's comments on it clearly paint it as almost an Old Shame.
  • Real-Person Cameo: Burlesque performer Roxi Dlite in issue #20.
  • Running Gag: The dinglepiper.
  • Shout-Out: Atticus Finch shows up for a page to take a shot at a rabid transvestite.
  • Silence Is Golden: Issue #33 has no dialogue, just sound effects and one thought balloon that said "Censor".
  • Sinister Minister: The Nameless Preacher, aka the Zombie Priest; a malevolent necromancer who wants to unleash a zombie apocalypse, runs around for the early stories wearing a top hat with a flayed human face stitched on the cap, and ultimately turns out to be a literal demon from hell and the source of the Rumplestiltskin story.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Make no mistake, Goon has his own particular moral code and, deep down, isn't that bad a guy... but, he's also quite willing to beat the shit out of anything and anyone that stands in his way, and has no qualms with murder or torture. Of course, given the kind of world he lives in, it's not as noticeable as you might think.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: In the original "issue #0" storyline, federal agents investigating Labrazzio uncover one of the Goon's most closely-kept secrets. In a dramatic climactic scene, they confront the Goon with what they've discovered, and announce the obvious conclusion: that all the evidence they've uncovered was planted by the Goon to send them off on a false trail. The Goon concurs with their conclusion, while making a mental note to destroy the evidence before somebody smarter finds it.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Often enough. Most of them are from Frankie.
  • Take That!: Against South Park, Oprah, Anne Rice, Twilight, the entire superhero genre...
  • Toilet Humor: Peaches Valentine. Sweet merciful lord, Peaches Valentine... in essence, a gibbering retarded young man in a diaper whose entire existence is based on his copiously defecating into his diaper and then playing with his own dung.
  • Top-Heavy Guy: The Goon, of course. Lampshaded in one story where, after a chase scene, a winded Goon asks just why he has to be built like a gorilla. Author's comments on "Issue 0" note that the entire idea of this series was born when the author doodled a standard comic or cartoon-type "goon" character and then became attached to him.
  • Totem Pole Trench: The orphans who want to be the Goon's new agents do this.
  • Two-Fisted Tales: The series can be roughly summarized as this mixed with super market tabloids.
  • Undead Child: The "chugheads", demonically-empowered deformed zombie-babies who replace the standard zombies as the Nameless Preacher's minions of choice once his supply of corpses is cut off.
  • Unsound Effect: KNIFE TO THE EYE!
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Issue 37 is actually based on a real life tragedy although obviously with some events fictionalized.
  • Wham Line: In Chinatown.
    "I don't want you."
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: Spoofed in one short. invoked
  • Would Hurt a Child: Whilst Goon himself wouldn't hurt any kids, they still get hurt a lot in this series. In Greedy Gut's first appearance, he eats several children (offscreen), which renders hims fat and slow enough that the Unholy Little Bastards can evade him long enough to get saved by the Goon. Roscoe, the kid werewolf, gets his leg cut off when the Unholy Little Bastards make him chase a stick over a busy train track. And those are just some of the examples.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: The Goon does have some standards, and beating up kids seems to be pretty much below what he's willing to do.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: The Goon himself.
    • Although as he points out to a fat and ugly female vampire (a spoof of Ann Rice vampires) whom he does proceed to beat up, she was the manliest person there until the Goon and Frankie showed up.
  • Zombify the Living: The Zombie Priest accidentally created his nemesis Buzzard by using the zombie creating magic on him when he was alive.