After two issues of potty-mouths, blood, gore, and a talking blue horse, this promising series from the man who made Batman and Robin creator Grant Morrison amazing to me, never had much of an effect on me. But this issue was a twisted and pleasant Christmas surprise.After losing his job as a detective, Nick Sax started killing a lot of people. It made quite a few people angry, so now he’s on the run from the law and organized crime alike. Unfortunately for him, he starts getting visits from a talking little blue horse named Happy who only he can see. Has Nick gone insane? Nope—Happy’s here because he needs to save a child who is in grave danger. But will Nick be able to get into the giving spirit and out of his own skin for once and save her? I’ve always said this isn’t a happy story, and it isn’t. This mini-series capitalizes on the ills of the world and may have you feeling down in the dumps this Christmas season… so avoid it until after you open your Red Rider BB gun, because while the series has some flaws, there are some shocks here that you will enjoy.
Then again, most Christmas stories have dark aspects. A Christmas Carol forebodes a selfish man’s death. A Christmas Story has a kid beating the pulp out of another kid, but as long as there is a happy ending people accept it as a classic… along with many other reasons.While Happy is not going to become a Christmas classic, this issue finally gets me to root for Nick and a happy ending to his story. In the first two issues he was a jerk (an occasionally funny jerk, but a jerk nonetheless). This part of the mini-series finally gives us Nick’s inevitable “origin” story. There are a lot of flaws with it. Because Happy is a four issue mini-series they crammed Nick’s entire origin into a single issue. Only a quick glance is stolen at each aspect of his life. This flashback didn’t even last the whole issue because of the time restraints. As a result, none of the events in the story are as impactful as they would have been if they were given more time to develop. Some hints were dropped about Nick’s past in previous issues, which added to the scenes, but overall the whole retrospective felt rushed. Morrison also has this quirk going on in the origin which made it nearly unreadable. None of the speech bubbles in the flashbacks have tails leading to their speakers. I’ve never seen this unless it was all narration, but it’s not. It’s dialogue. At which point I’m looking for a discernible pattern, like the bubbles always being overtop their speakers, but no. I never noticed that a speech bubbles tail is far from a luxury. It’s a necessity, especially in this case. It doesn’t take too long to figure out who is speaking, but there was no reason to have this quirk. But this can be forgiven since the actual content is good and gets you more invested in Nick’s character. It doesn’t make him any less of a jerk, it just shows how his life was unfair… but he’s still a jerk. That’s what the writer was going for.The twists in this issue are what really grab you. Now, the identity of the child in danger isn’t so shocking. Pretty cliché, actually, especially because of the melodramatic way it is revealed and the turn from the people on the train from heathens to goodie-goodies. But it does add more suspense to the situation, and the way Morrison writes Nick when he discovers the truth does a great job showing how Nick’s situation is spinning out of control in a way he never thought possible. Also, that final panel makes me, well, happy. I stuck with the title. The final page has one sick line that not only shows the depravity of our world but gives you chills and makes you shiver in anticipation for the next issue.
Darick Robertson’s artwork has an abundance of over lining and over shadowing on the characters, but his work has a lot of redeeming moments. The blue feathers woven into Nick’s origin to fill in the black gaps surrounding the panels is a clever way to add color and put in an admittedly unnecessary nod to Happy. Some of the backgrounds are good, like one which has a bridge overlooking a lake. Expressions on people’s faces are over-exaggerated at times, but felt nonetheless. Best of all is the scene towards the end that I mentioned was so powerful before, with Nick’s life spiraling out of control. The writing helped, but the way the art repeated images by using close-ups made the moment sink in. Richard P. Clark’s colors add a lot to the characters, environments and story. The color scheme continues to add to the dreary tone by using a lot of grays and dull browns, then Happy goes along with his eye-popping blue color that really sticks out on the page. This makes it all the more noticeable when Happy becomes upset and his color becomes dull.Again, this is a mature series with adult themes that go beyond just violence and there is a lot of cursing. Don’t expect happiness, but a gloomy comic in both story and perfectly-matched color scheme and artwork (sometimes). It’s far from a perfect issue, but makes the first two issues worth it… for me, at least.Have a Happy holiday everyone! :)
An all-around nerdette, I’m a comic book connoisseur, horror aficionado, video game addict, anime enthusiast and an aspiring novelist/comic book writer. I am the head of the comic book department and the editor-in-chief of Entertainment Fuse. I also write and edit articles for Comic Frontline. I am also an intern at Action Lab Entertainment, a comic book publisher at which I edit comic book scripts, help work on images in solicitations and help with other comic book related project. My own personal website is comicmaven.com.