Comic Review: Happy #1
The highly-anticipated new four-issue comic miniseries, Happy, from Grant Morrison, Darick Robertson, and Image Comics starts this week. As everyone probably knows by now, Grant Morrison is currently taking a break from superheroes for the most part to work on creator-owned comics, and as he recently explained to USA Today, “the most horrendous thoughts we all have now and again.” If Happy #1 is any indication of what comic readers can expect from this move, then we are in for a treat. Since this is an early review, we are not going to spoil the story by trying to explore it in painstaking detail, and instead focus mostly on the actual review aspect. That being said, we will briefly touch on the plot in this first issue so you aren’t completely lost.
Once a well-respected and decorated police detective, Nick Sax now inhabits a brutal world filled with scumbags, hitmen, serial killers, and mob bosses. Make no mistake, these are bad people and he is one of them. Murder comes as easy for these people as the constant string of obscenities that come out of their mouths. When things become unhinged, Nick finds himself the target of some of these bad people who are convinced that he has valuable information, and they will go to any means to get it—with torture being their first option. Thankfully a little (imaginary?) blue Pegasus, or as Darick Robertson’s ten year-old son calls it, “a unipixisus,” shows up to help aid Nick.
That’s basically where we are after reading Happy #1. The concept sounds somewhat outlandish, but it’s actually pretty damn entertaining. Don’t let the little blue Pegasus, named Happy, fool you. This is a dark, gritty, violent, and decidedly mature comic. Even Darick says he wouldn’t let children read this one. There is so much swearing that I had to really search hard for some expletive-free sample panels to include in this review. Not that that’s a bad thing by any means. These guys are thugs, and that’s how they talk. This isn’t cussing just for the sake of shock value. In fact, Morrison writes the characters quite convincingly. The dialogue is strong and flows well. Even though Nick is hardly an innocent character, we see small things in him to make us care–even if some of his good deeds might come with favors attached. Since this story is taking place during Christmastime I can see some potential parallels to the holiday classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. But honestly, it is really hard to tell exactly where this story is going to go from here. Expect a variety of tropes and topics to be explored in the remaining issues. With only three issues left, expect the pacing to be fast and furious. In any case, I will certainly be around for the ride.
The art in Happy is just awesome! Any discussion about the best contemporary comic artists that doesn’t include Darick Robertson is a discussion that I just can’t take seriously. With such titles as Transmetropolitan and The Boys on his resume, Darick has quietly been producing amazing work for a long time. There is a damn good reason he works with some of the best writers in all of comics. His work here in Happy is no exception. Darick is drawing like a man possessed! These pages are packed with enough detail that readers will want to go back and check them out again and again. On a few pages he experiments with different layout styles, breaking from the more traditional methods dominated by right angled panels. Even when a little blue Pegasus enters into the story, it somehow manages to remain balanced and work artistically. Darick Robertson is one of my very favorite artists working in comics today, and Happy #1 is a perfect example of why this is. Even Richard P. Clark’s colorist work is spot on, complementing and enhancing the art perfectly.
Happy looks like it is going to be an amazing miniseries, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this first issue. In fact, I would have to say that Happy #1 is my pick of the week. It looks like Morrison, Robertson, and Image could have a hit on their hands, so do not miss out. As always, support new ideas and creator-owned comics!