Coming from The Goon creator Eric Powell and artist John Dunivant, The Goon in the Theatre Bizarre is a one-shot self contained story just in time for Halloween. If you’re not familiar with The Goon, he’s sort of a 40’s era gangster thug that fights zombies and all sorts of supernatural beasties with his best pal Frankie. This particular story has our “heroes” (I use that term loosely) driving their way through some thick fog and right into the Theatre Bizarre, a sort of undead carnival lead by the dreaded Zombo. Hail Zombo!
This book contains everything that makes The Goon great in a bite-sized format and the artwork is exactly what fans of this series have come to expect and love. Powell’s style is incredibly unique and immediately recognizable. The character designs are stylized and generally fall on the cartoonier side of things, especially the Goon himself and Frankie. To directly contrast this, the book is rendered and shaded in a much more realistic manner. On top of that, the coloring is rather subdued and minimal, with pages often being almost completely monotone. This fits the mood perfectly and creates a style that’s both atmospheric and tongue in cheek.
The Goon is all about that contrast. On a surface level, these stories deal with themes of horror and the supernatural, but the main characters bring a backhand full of humor to the experience. The Goon and Frankie commonly treat zombies and monsters less like a horrifying or dangerous, and more like they’re just a pain in the ass. The dialogue alone hammers in this theme. Amidst spooky talk of legends and a haunted carnival, our characters are lured in by promises of beer and “Girls, Girls, GIRLS!” Frankie is a man of simple desires.
The best thing this particular one-shot has going for it is the Halloween carnival setting. Everything is colored in reds and oranges and the splash pages showing the Theatre Bizarre in all its glory are beautiful. Zombo himself is pretty creepy, being simply a clown with a skull for a head. It’s a really basic design, but it works.
As far as the plot goes this one’s really on the lighter side. The Goon and Frankie are barely in any danger and it takes so long to get going that everything gets resolved almost immediately. The punchline is funny, but I would have liked a little more in the way of action or even just conflict. Still, Goon and Frankie wandering around the carnival cracking jokes and soaking in the atmosphere is entertaining enough that in such a short format this doesn’t become much of a detriment.
If you’re a fan of the series, then of course you should pick this up. The setting is spooky and the dialogue is funny. The artwork is gorgeous and they really make the most of the creepy carnival setting. For a small bite-sized story, The Goon in the Theatre Bizarre is great. If you’re new to The Goon then this will definitely give you a good idea of the style and humor that the series is known for, but certain plot details might be a bit confusing. The Goon in Theatre Bizarre hits shelves on October 14th. This book is great. The Goon is great. Read The Goon.
Wicked Rating: 8/10