Eric Powell is unhappy with Marvel and DC. In fact, he is so annoyed by mainstream superhero comics that he wrote an entire issue about it. The Goon #39 seems to be the culmination of all of Powell’s frustrations with hero comics and the comics industry in general. This issue is a deconstruction of everything that Powell feels is wrong with mainstream publisher’s marketing techniques. Goon takes a break from cracking zombie skulls for an issue, and instead takes down the The Big Two. Powell attempts to bring every irritating thing about mainstream comics to light in this issue. The problem with this is, when you swing at every slow pitch, you are bound to miss a few.
Taking on almost all the eye-rolling marketing campaigns and hack plots that Marvel and DC can cook up is an enormous project. From the near-constant reboots to the ridiculous “death” stories, The Goon #39 addresses them all, which could be seen as too tall an order.
The beginning of this issue plays out perfectly, as Goon reveals an origin story that is the same one we read countless times in our weekly comics. The issue continues strong as Powell continues to combine art and dialogue that exposes just how formulaic superhero comics have become. As The Goon #39 progresses, though, Powell leaves probing mainstream comics through a carefully crafted story, and begins a series of gags that force Goon to do some serious winking at the camera. It seems like as Powell was writing this issue, he decided there was too much to write into a story and just had his characters yell from their panels.
This is the point in The Goon #39 that requires the most audience participation. Readers from here on can decide for themselves whether Powell has intentionally forced the story to be nothing more than page after page of gags because he just had too much to say, or, if this writing style is another commentary on hero comics. If it is the aforementioned superhero commentary, then it is a brilliant choice. However, if Powell simply wrote himself into a corner, this issue is still a clever decomposition of modern comic storytelling.
Eric Powell has never given a damn about what the comics industry has had to say about his work. The Goon, on several occasions, has called out celebrities, writers, heroes, and artists with sharp writing and the lowest of brow humor. The Goon #39 is his biggest f-you to date, which is makes this comic well worth the price of admission.