Nick Sax, ex-detective turned bottom-feeder hitman with wicked eczema issues, finds himself on the run from the mob after a job goes bad, but just when he thinks things can’t get any worse he starts seeing a small, blue, winged cartoon horse; worse yet Happy the Horse swears he’s the imaginary friend of a young girl who’s the latest victim of a perverted serial kidnapper and he’s very insistent that Nick should save the day.
Largely held as one of the most talent writers working in contemporary comics, Grant Morrison can quite aptly be described as an ideas machine.
In any given issue, Morrison can usually be trusted to provide more concepts than other writers would explore in an entire run. Unfortunately, in this writer’s opinion at least, many of his stories spiral off into obscurity without any definite conclusion; more fizzing out than resolving with any kind of bang.
I suppose it’s a relatively controversial viewpoint, and I totally understand why people hold Morrison in such high regard, but I’ve never been one to be waiting for his latest release with baited breath. From time to time though he’ll do something that I have to admit is pretty excellent on every level.
Happy! is one such story.
Dark and nasty and foul mouth and foreboding, Happy! could easily be mistaken for a story written by Garth Ennis, so much does it carry that very specific twisted sense oh humour. Indeed, it’s very much like Morrison is purposefully channelling Ennis, even down to the selection of Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan, The Boys) for art duties. The difference though, and the smart bit, is that smack in the middle of this Ennis-alike story, Morrison has thrown in one of his typical, trippy curve balls that hit’s you with an overall sense that the concept can genuinely be described as unique.
Morrison and Robertson have crafted a viciously dark world that could stand toe to toe with Seven in the depressing stakes, but somehow the story never looses that wicked sense of humour and right when you least expect it, it displays a streak of sweetness, which, though contrary, breaks the nihilistic mood enough for you to retain some hope. The pair seem to be having a good time putting this one together.
Robertson, with a the exception of a Conan one shot he did a while back, here is on his best form since the early days of Transmetropolitan, with a style as gritty as always but more detailed. The subject matter suits him more than the mental superheroics of The Boys.
At a brisk four issues, Happy! is pacey and to the point and wraps up quite satisfactorily. All in all just a good, fun, solid read and would make for a great, if bizarre, little film (I’d cast Matt Damon).
A- grade – for originality
B+ grade – for storytelling
B grade – for artwork
Overall grade – B+
Happy is currently on release in collected softcover from Image Comics.