Review by Roy Boyd
My Murderous Childhood (and Other Grievous Yarns) is the third trade paperback collection of The Goon, though it’s number two because there’s also a number zero. This improves on the already good Nothin’ But Misery.
We kick off with another retelling of the Goon’s origin story and a brief recap of what the Zombie Priest is up to. Because these are flashbacks we’re treated to Powell’s sumptuous pencils without inking. Then we’re back in the present day (whenever that actually is, it’s hard to tell with the Goon’s world) for a story about the Zombie Priest’s henchmen trying to acquire corpses for their boss to turn into zombies. We also take a trip to the Hobo Jungle, where the hoboes, led by Bob Dylan (naturally) prepare to eat our brawny hero and his sidekick Franky. Oh, and there’s a herd of migrating orangutans on the loose, and they keep spontaneously combusting. Nuts, and very funny.
The parole hearing considering whether Dr Hieronymus Alloy should be released from prison or not opens the next story. Alloy’s a mad scientist who’s more misguided than evil. Sticking to the misguided theme that saw him sent to prison in the first place, upon his release he sets out (with his giant robot) to kill the Goon. Alloy returns in later stories, and becomes something of an ally (there must be a pun in there) in the Goon’s fight against the Zombie Priest and other assorted threats.
Chapter three opens with a four-page photo-story, and we’re sure that’s Powell kid starring as a young runaway. The kid finds a pulp comic book and reads the ‘Lost Story of the Goon.’ It tells how Goon and Franky met, and how Goon set himself up as Labrazio’s enforcer. This story is well constructed, managing to fit in loads without ever being too wordy, and it works like clockwork, all fitting together beautifully. Powell has a real knack for spinning a yarn, something that he seems to be aware of as he does lots of small stories within stories.
Finally, we’re treated to a trio of shorts. The first, ‘The Sea Hag Demands a Mate!’ features the eponymous Hag and her carnal intentions towards Goon. The second is drawn by Kyle Hotz. It’s very entertaining, but it’s one of those Hellboy situations: guest artists might be really good, but it’s just not the real deal. The last story, ‘The Brothers Mud,’ features both a mistake (it’s Mudd, with two d’s) and the introduction of another couple of characters that would become series regulars. It’s another great wee story, very funny. One Mudd to his brother: “Well, which one of these fellas you reckon is Spider?” Answer: “Uh, I don’t know. Let’s ask the spindly legged fella with all the eyes.”
The previous book – Nothin’ But Misery – was good. This book’s better, and the next, Heaps of Ruination, is better still. If you haven’t read The Goon yet, you really should give it a go. It’s very well written, and the art is up there with the best the medium has to offer. So, if your tastes don’t run to men in tights punching each other, but rather to men in vests punching scary monsters, then this is something you should try.