Monday, March 26, 2012

Pick of the Week - March 21, 2012 - The Goon #38

The Goon #38
Story and Pencils: Eric Powell
Colors: Dave Stewart

Six simple words appear in the first caption box of this comic: “This is how it all began.” The beginning told in this comic goes further back than you might expect and involves an age-old battle: that of nature verses nurture. 

My wife and I were recently discussing the same topic during a long drive with our 9-month-old son napping in the backseat. We were wondering if his calm (and basically awesome) demeanor is a result of something we’re doing, or simply the sweet ass genes we gave him. I don’t think we came to a definitive answer but this issue of The Goon seems to come down on the nurture side of the argument.

This origin story is vastly different from your run of the mill, guy-gets-struck-by-lighting-and-gains-the-ability-to-run-really-fast-type origin story. It’s not even about the main character of the book. This issue gives us the story behind the person who shaped The Goon into the guy he is.

It’s Kizzie “The Iron Maiden’s” story.

We already know Goon grew up as the resident elephant poop shoveler with a traveling circus. We know how Goon assumed the role of enforcer for the powerful crime boss Labrazio by bashing in said crime boss’ head and taking up his mantle (as it were) from behind the scenes. All in all, we’ve seen some pretty dark moments in Goon’s tortured life.

But we also already know about how Goon was raised by his aunt Kizzie, the circus’ strongwoman. About how she raised him to have respect for good people and stick up for the little guy when he’s firmly pinned under the big guy’s boot. Kizzie is Goon’s “nurture.”

We learn Goon’s “nature” in this book and it ain’t pretty. It’s summed it up in two panels after Goon’s father (Kizzie’s older brother Rooney) shows up after years away to pawn baby Goon off on Kizzie.

“Look, if you don’t want it, just do what I was gonna do with the little goon,” Rooney says. “Put him in a sack and throw him in the river.”

See? Told you. Not pretty.

Goon’s nature is stacked against him. His DNA says he should be a two-bit loser like his father. But as we already know, he’s far from that.

If nurture really does beat out nature, then I hope that means my wife and I really are doing something right in the way we’re raising of our son. If he grows up to take down the Zombie Priest and clean up Lonely Street, well, I’ll be a proud papa.

The Goon continues to be one of the most beautifully drawn, complex, hilarious titles out there. I don’t think it gets enough respect. You’ll get an emotional, character-driven issue like this, followed by one about Goon taking down a crazed, mutant ape, but Eric Powell makes it all flow together seamlessly.

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