Review: GONERS Vol. 1: We All Fall Down

Looking for something a bit different in the comics realm? Not your mom’s horror-comedy/historic fantasy romp? Jacob Semahn and Jorge Corona have got your number. All at once fresh and familiar, the first volume of Semahn and Corona’s Goners series pulls out all the stops, deftly juggling fantasy, suspense, adventure and humor without missing a single beat.

Semahn’s story hits the ground running—literally—beginning in the present day with the production of a reality show starring Raleigh and Evelyn Latimer, ascendants of a centuries-old family business hunting the supernatural. A shocking tragedy befalls the couple, leaving the world besieged by demons and its fate in the hands of the youngest Latimers, Zoe and Josiah. Swept up in a (sorta) classic good vs. evil battle, the children and their allies meet with plenty of personal challenges, revelations and triumphs along the way. Propelling forward at lightning speed, Semahn introduces characters and subplots now and asks (and answers) questions later. The suspenseful, fantastic and comedic elements merge seamlessly; the horror presence in particular is refreshingly never lurid or overdone, and the abundance of humor and hijinks along the way make the scary parts that much more effective. The everyday existence of the supernatural may be a given in the world of Goners, but shocks and spooks within the story are never predictable or taken for granted. Semahn has done a great job here writing engaging, funny characters that are free of clichés (no sullen Goth teens here) and are relatable and vulnerable yet still stoic and heroic.

The flashback sequences, however, are where the otherwise straightforward (if non-linear) narrative takes a bit of a left turn, relying sporadically on devices such as captions and narration to depict time differences and changes of location. Though occasionally there are times where these tools are helpful or are obviously being used in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, I found myself a bit distracted by them once too often, and wished that the classic visual devices already in place (period dress, locations, etc) had been better utilized in that respect (like Eric Powell’s stunning, cinematic flashback sequences in the stellar Big Man Plans series). After all, a rollicking good time like Goners needs no signposts!

Jorge Corona’s art, bolstered by Gabriel Cassata’s striking color palette, is angular, whimsical and evocative, a simultaneously modern and classic realization of the Goners universe. The gorgeous watercolors of Morgan Beem in the “training” sequences between Josiah and Raleigh provide a cathartic and emotional visual narrative that not only showcases Corona’s expressive characters but also plays beautifully off of Cassata’s bold, astonishing bursts of color, particularly in the manga-infused horror sequences (anthropomorphic monsters, lots of tentacles…some definite nods to Hino and Junji Ito there).

All told, there is a lot going on in Goners. At times I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep up with all of the events and characters thrown my way. But I found that the key was to just hold on and go along for the ride, and the end result was a total blast: a unique, action-packed hor-com caper sure to please any reader in search of good times. Looking forward to future ass-kicking adventures with the Family Latimer!

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