This is one messed up book.
I mean, you kind of get that when you look at the cover. It’s called ‘Happy!’ but the guy is anything but happy. He’s a hulking figure of forlorn debauchery. Plus its’ written by Grant Morrison and he had some pretty grotesque stories in his run on Batman and Robin back when I was still reading that title and not upset with DC Comics as a whole (again). But I mean, the book gets dark. Super dark. Mature readers only. And even then you might not want to broach this sort of topic in a comic story. It’s seriously dark. To the point where I almost don’t feel comfortable reviewing it because it makes me feel uncomfortable.
But I guess a book that starts with some guy calling a hit on himself so he can massacre the guys who are after him is a bit of a dark start to a book. I probably shouldn’t have expected this comic to pull any punches. The book follows Nick Sax, a former all-star detective. But he’s nothing now. Nick is nothing more than a washed up old man who “kills people to pay for booze, sex, and eczema medication.” He’s not a good guy any more. He’s gotten himself into a dark underground of criminal activity and there are tons of people who want to see him dead. He comes pretty close to it, too.
And then when he wake sup he just happens to see a flying blue unicorn named Happy.
Happy has come to Nick with a problem. His person – Hailey – has been abducted. He’s an invisible friend. And somehow Nick can see him so he’s imploring him to help him find and rescue Hailey. Who seriously needs some help because what’s about to happen to her and the other girls who have been kidnapped? Seriously. One of the most demented storylines I’ve come across in a comic book. When you have the threat of Santa Clause kiddie porn in the same book as a flying blue unicorn named Happy you know your book… well. I’m not entirely sure what it’s trying to do.
This is a one shot trade paperback and it’s very short – just over 100 pages long. I feel sometimes that the story is a little lacking in Nick’s background and it just sort of blazes through that pretty quick. I don’t think it shows enough of how he got from this bad ass detective to where he is now. Also, the big twist with Happy and Hailey? Way obvious. That said, though, it’s not a bad book if you can get over the creepy and super uncomfortable plot that’s pretty much the entire book. The illustrations are really good and it’s a pretty solid looking comic.
And I think some people who are fans of the darker comics out there might not be too wigged out by the plot. I read a lot of dark comics, though, and anything involving child sexual abuse makes me uncomfortable. I can get through those archs when they are part of a larger story and series but when that’s all your story is about? I don’t know.
I actually thought the book wrapped up well enough and the story was good. I feel like I can recommend this book – but only to certain people. It’s definitely not for everyone. And apparently it’s being adapted into a feature film.
But like I said. I just found it uncomfortable at times. There is a lot of sex and graphic violence. So if that’s your thing you should pass. But it’s all supplemented by Happy and his very cartoonish look on this dark, noir background. I absolutely loved Happy. I thought he was adorable and just what you’d expect from an eight year old’s imaginary friend. I just felt bad for him that he had to work with Nick. They work things out in the end and Happy eventually proves himself to Nick. It just takes time. I mean, how likely would you be to trust an imaginary flying blue unicorn that you’re probably hallucinating?
Amazon calls this Happy! Vol. 1. I don’t really think there is another volume? It wraps itself up so well on that last page I don’t really see how it can come back. The TPB comes out on April 30th which makes no sense to me at all. I don’t know why they aren’t marketing this more around Christmas. Even the original individual releases were in October of last year – not December. It was a lost opportunity, in my mind, to get into the spirit of things. I mean you could totally market this as sort of a demented It’s A Wonderful Life for the Hellblazer and Sin City crowds. Or maybe even bronies looking for a more adult story. They’d love it.
One last thing. The cover? It’s not really working for me. I think they could have done so much more with it. If I were to walk by this in the bookstore? I’d pass it on by. I just think it does the story a disservice.
All in all: good book. Not for everyone, though.