Thee Comic Column #6: Grant Morrison’s Happy

Variant Cover image courtesy of digitalspy.com

Grant Morrison, the iconic, rock god-like comic book creator who gave us The Invisibles, The Filth, Joe the Barbarian (to name but a few) and performed amazing overhauls on books such as Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Batman and Marvel’s X-Men* is back with his first creator-owned series in some time. And it’s good. Oh brothers and sisters of the paneled page, one of issue of Happy! has me giddy to the gills and ready for more!

It’s often hard to tell exactly what a Morrison story is about from just one issue, but thus far Happy! appears to be the story of a former cop who has – for reasons thus far unknown – turned into something of a scumbag. His name is Nick Sax and if the reputation that proceeds him in the opening scene of the book is anything to be believed he is one bad ass, hard-to-kill mutha. As we open Nick is pursued by nothing short of mob hitmen, underground criminal torture squads, dirty cops and, in the final pages of the first issue, a small blue unicorn named Happy.

I had no idea what this book was about going in and although I pretty much just summed up the architecture of the first issue above there is one major little reveal I left out that, to me, was the hook. After only this first book I very much expect this to be my favorite Morrison-created book since The Filth and it must be said that a lot of that comes from the feeling that he has struck a very symbiotic relationship with artist Darick Robertson. Robertson’s style is deep and gritty – he was one half of the creative team behind Transmetropolitan (along with the wonderful Warren Ellis) and the mad visual genius who has so intricately – and often disturbingly – helped Garth Ennis’ create the world of the soon-to-be-ending long form series The Boys over at Dynamite. Happy! travels through dingy back alleys of both New York and also society and this is where Robertson shines, as he is very adept at bringing a dirty, filthy covering to the deeds and characters on the page that you’ll feel on the surface of your skin for some time after you put ish #1 down. Couple with this the feeling that there is a certain twang of the trademark Morrison ‘altered reality’ stirring beneath this book and in my opinion we have another winner. This feels like a continuation of the more ‘close to the chin altered state’ that the author created with Joe the Barbarian than the massive, meta-textual Morrison that blew our minds with hyper-sigils such as The Invisibles, but the devil’s in the details folks, and details are what Grant loves to mix up and surprise us with, so I’m thinking while Happy! may not be a mind-blower, it’s going to be a sublime and subtle jaw dropper – something closer to the China Mieville slow reveal than the last page cliff-hanger ‘What the f&*k!?’ but we’ll see.

Happy! number one was released by Image comics this past Tuesday and is bound to sell out, so go out and support another great book and your local comic book shop today.

………..

* At a time when X-anything sucked

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

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