Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Darick Robertson
Colors by Richard P. Clark
Letters by Simon Bowland
32 Pages / Color / $2.99
Published by Image Comics
This is a great comic, but it may all be in my head.
After reading an advance copy of Happy #1, I questioned my own snap judgement as to just how good it was. This crime noir meets cartoon animals story is like a sinister version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Is that a good thing? After reading this a second and a third time, I can definitively say yes, yes this is.
Everyone involved in this book has kept the details of what the story is about relatively under wraps, pitching the world the idea of a disgraced cop being haunted by an imaginary blue horse after finding himself in the cross-hairs of the cops and the criminals he now works for. While the actual story hits those beats, Morrison and Robertson (along with Clark’s excellent coloring) really build up a textured world of criminals, crooked cops in the dirty snow-as-slush lined streets of an unnamed urban city. The creative team really fleshes out a seedy world pulled from the pages of pulp novels to a tee, before it gets crazy.
Although I can’t spoil the how and I still don’t know precisely why, the lead character Nick Sax’s world is thrown into a tailspin when he gets visited by the titular Happy, a diminutive blue horse. Skipping past the story and into the art, Robertson excelled in this twisted depiction more than most any other artist could. Robertson’s work as a whole is some of his best in the past ten years. The single page where the dingy Nick Sax meets the feathered horse really defines why Robertson is the ideal choice here. Robertson’s work here is eerily reminiscent of Brian Bolland in terms of the details here, but this Transmetropolitan alum goes beyond that with inventive panel layouts, composition choices, and the confidence to draw Happy the horse in a style far different than the rest of the book.
On the story side, I feel I must preface by fitting it in the context of how a growing number of Morrison fans classify his work. Sometimes Morrison tends to veer into the more esoteric and luminous front in terms of story structure, leading some fans to lump Morrison’s output into the stranger works like The Filth and more classic Morrison fare like We3, JLA and Seaguy. Happy falls neatly in the more easily digestible latter, and it’s great. Morrison neatly unpacks the tropes of crime noir without leaving his voice out in the cold.
Will Happy be placed in the hallowed pantheon of Morrison classics? Will Nick Sax be as memorable a character as King Mob, Damien Wayne, Xorn or his other creations in comics? All of that is too soon to tell. But what I can tell you right now that this is a great comic whether you’re a Morrison fan or not.
Story: 4.5 / Art: 4.5 / Overall: 4.5
(Out of 5 Stars)
Happy #1 hits shelves on September 26th.