Robot 6

Chain Reactions | Happy #1

Happy #1

Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson released a new creator-owned series this week, mashing up crime comics and, um, silly animal comics? No, that doesn’t seem quite right. In any event, Happy! #1 landed on store shelves this week, and how happy did it make reviewers? Here are a few from around the web:

Chris Arrant, iFanboy: “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.”

Jason Serafino, Complex: As Morrison usually does, he uses Happy to employ the grittiness and overt violence that have become clichéd in comics as a way to satirize the industry. Until its eponymous character debuts, the issue moves along like so many comics we have seen recently with its morose tone and gore, but that flying blue horse introduces a Looney Tunes quality to the issue that’s almost poking fun at the current state of dread and violence in comics. It’s almost as if Morrison is daring creators to liven up and add a little blue horse of their own into their books.”

Matthew Santori-Griffith, Comicosity: “Morrison has never been shy about juxtaposing the normal with the fantastic to make a point, even if that point isn’t super clear to the reader. Both The Invisibles and The Filth have taken this same path of showing us a world we recognize all too well and turning it completely upside down, the latter to a very similar effect that we are seeing here. The difference now with Happy! is that the reader is not being introduced to a world that looks much like their own, but rather one that looks like comic book worlds we’re used to reading in 2012. Dark, gritty, bloody and drowned in harsh expletives, Happy! mirrors any number of our funny books today — where heads get lopped off in every other issue (if we’re lucky) and the growing adult marketplace only seems to inspire more of the same. But ever the transformer, Morrison begins here what I hope is a way back from ever more gruesome state comic stories have taken with the introduction of Happy the Horse.”

Vanessa Gabriel, Newsarama: “I like to cuss as much as the next girl, but Morrison goes overboard. Maybe sociopathic hitmen really do talk like that. I wouldn’t know. The point is Morrison’s characters do, and it may or may not be authentic. But the sheer volume of explicit language pulls you out of the story. So does the blue cartoon horse. I know what Happy the horse is; I get what the character is meant to do. This book is about sharp contrast, and I think ultimately Happy will hold greater meaning for the protagonist. But right now, in issue #1, it is ridiculous. And I know that is intentional, too.”

Sean Edgar, Paste Magazine: “Darick Robertson is the perfect partner in crime for this project. His detailed, scratchy pencils hit a new level of filthy that hasn’t been seen since his time on Transmetropolitan. Every panel looks infected by decay and corrosion, immaculately fitting the sociopathy of the characters. I’m already disappointed that Happy is only four issues.”

John Lees, ComixTribe: “So, over the course of Happy! #1, I found myself shifting from not really liking what I was reading, to being won over once I realised what Morrison was doing, and by the end my impression was that I’d liked the comic. I’m certainly keen enough to come back for #2, but whether or not I go beyond that depends on where the story goes from here. This cleverly established the conceit of a miserable, Millarish world being hijacked by Morrison, donning the fiction suit of Happy the Horse. But where do you take the story once you’ve staged this reversal? It’ll be interesting to see how much is made of the dichotomy between Happy and the grim world he now inhabits, as that to me seems like the richest thread available to further explore. With Morrison’s name involved, I’m willing to wait and see.”

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Comments

2 Comments

What an odd book. I read a lot of crime fiction, and this story just read like an author working in an arena that did not suit his strengths, or possibly, a writer doing a full send-up on the use of the “f” word, which is used literally for every other word in this comic. When the ambulance techs and everyone drops the f-bomb, it just reads silly and it took me out of the story. By the same token, with the blue horse sidekick, I’m kind of wondering if this isn’t all part of the craziness and that I’m just missing something. I, too, will give it another issue, but it needs to improve soon or I’ll just go back to SCALPED for my crime-fiction needs.

I don’t understand how Vanessa Gabriel can say she understands the point of the horse and still think Morrison took the cussing too far. That’s the point. If you don’t /like/ the cussing, then you don’t like it and no one can convince you otherwise, but the /point/ was /for/ the cussing to be as crass and obnoxious as possible. It was to take that attitude that a lot of those “dark” comics exhibit to their extreme. The point was to satirize it.

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