"Happy" #1 Comic Book Review
“…writer Grant Morrison was going for the record on how many curse words could go into a comic book”
When first reading Happy, I thought writer Grant Morrison was going for the record on how many curse words could go into a comic book, and by a certain point was half-expecting there to be at least one on every page. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, and on second reading I’m feeling the language more as part of the characters and their world, rather than for ‘shock’-effect.
And a grim world it is, too, ably illustrated by Darick Robertson. It’s Christmas, and two goombahs, Gerry and Mikey, are on their way to join their other brothers-Fratelli to whack fallen detective Nick Sax. Three was the number of Fratellis hired to “take care” of this Sax, but youngest brother Mikey is tagging along, eager to earn his chops after three years picking grapes in Grandpa’s vineyards.
En route to the hit, the pair cross paths with a creepy drunken Santa and give him a mouthful of expletives, continuing their tirade as they pass some nuns – at which point Mikey deems it might be time to tone it down.
But it’s straight to more filth as a weird bug/human guy is getting pleasured by a hooker – she not realizing he has a grisly fate planned for her… but she’s surprisingly saved from it by Mr. Sax. Though he doesn’t prove himself to be quite the all-round knight in shining armor; he wants something in return.
“…this is a solid book that improves on a second reading…”
Meanwhile, Gerry and Mikey are making their way here but are stopped in their tracks when they find their brothers, either unconscious or dead, tied to two chairs with Christmas lights, and a note attached to them, saying to answer their ‘$^£@!* phone.’ It’s Sax; turns out he’s the one that hired them – so he could set them up like ducks in a barrel – as someone’s hired him to off them!
The hooker plays her part, and it’s a gunfight between Sax and the two brothers left standing; this not going as planned for Sax as he was only expecting three Fratellis. Newbie Mikey offers Sax a password in exchange for his life, but Sax isn’t buying – though at this point is somewhat worse for wear, having suffered a gunshot wound…
When his business is concluded, Sax makes his way out, but doesn’t get far before he blacks out and awakes on a morphine drip in a mob hospital bed surrounded by bent cops – with a torture expert on his way to get Mikey’s password out of him, at the instructions of a mysterious mustachioed man.
His only hope…?
…Well, I won’t give that away, as if you haven’t heard who the eponymous Happy is, his appearance will make a much bigger impact than if you have.
Either way, this is a solid book that improves on a second reading, both in terms of subtle things I noticed in the art, and in the feel of the characters. Morrison does a good job of making Sax somehow likeable, and I anticipate this is something that will be built on as his relationship with Happy develops. I loved Morrison’s out-there run on Doom Patrol back in the day, it’s a huge influence on my writing, but I haven’t been taken with all that much I’ve read from him since. This: I am. In some ways it seems like a Mark Millar-esque book, but without trying so hard to shock as I find Millar seems to, rendering it more appealing to me.
In Happy, Morrison brings flashes of his trademark weirdness to an otherwise dark mob world, and it looks like it’s gonna be fun…
Geek Smash rating: 90/100
For more from reviewer Sam Johnson, including a review of the latest Deadpool, check out his Blog!