Grant Morrison has in many ways outdone himself with this latest creator owned mini-series, Happy!. Even after reading Happy! #3, the second to last installment, this series continues to puzzle and perplex me and I’m pretty sure that’s the point. This tale of a washed up hitman and the little blue Pegasus that won’t leave him alone is certainly not your standard Morrison fare in terms of subject matter and amount of adult content (this series has enough F-bombs and C-bombs to make even Mark Millar blush) but at its core there is a magical and poignant story, the type Morrison is so skilled at telling.
Like the issues before it, Happy! #3 is by no means a fun read. Nick and Happy spend almost the entire issue arguing as Nick refuses to believe the missing girl Happy wants him to save is even real. Once again Nick must choose between following his little blue conscience or doing what his gut tells him and get the hell out of the city before the mob catches up with him.
The real highlight of Happy! #3 is some of the massive reveals Morrison dishes out both about Nick and the plot in general. After only being drip fed information so far it’s refreshing to finally get an insight into Nick’s past and what made him turn from cop to hitman. It’s great to start to see the circle begin to close in this second to last installment. Even so, pacing wise the issue is just a bit too slow and not all that much happens in the 22 pages.
Darick Robertson’s art is particularly poignant in this issue. Facial expressions are often hilariously over the top whilst still maintaining a gritty Sin City feel and there’s some great use of shading here. The only visual issue is that some of the layouts are a bit hit and miss throughout the book and lack creativity. It would have been nice to see a splash page or at least a bit more flow and interaction between the panels.
In a way Happy! is a caricature of a lot of Mark Millar’s more gruesome works and indeed gratuitously violent creator owned titles in general. Happy’s over the top use of swearing, gory for the sake of gory violence and overuse of the f-word may put some people off but for the mature comic book reader Happy! represents an engaging and intelligent critique of adult and mature comics.
I can’t wait to see how Morrison and Robertson wrap up the series in issue 4, but for now Happy! #3 is the stand-out issue of the series in my opinion.