Once upon a time, Nick Sax was an idealistic cop with a pretty young wife and a great future ahead of him. That was before the realities of the job, a corrupt department and an affair with his partner cost him everything.
Now, Nick is a hitman and an alcoholic. He suffers from eczema and doesn’t suffer fools. He’s also very good at his job, but being good will only get you so far.
When Nick’s latest assignment goes wrong, he winds up strapped to a gurney in the back of an ambulance with a bullet in his side and the cops and the mob on his tail. Plenty of trouble to worry about without Nick starting to hallucinate due to the pain and his current bender. Unfortunately, that is when Nick sees the little blue pony…
This Christmas Eve, Nick Sax will become a hero again, however reluctantly. Because a deranged child-killer who dresses as Santa Claus is out there. A little girl named Hailey is in danger. The only one who knows how to find Hailey is her imaginary friend, Happy The Horse. And Nick Sax is the only other person who can see Happy…
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Most readers will come to Happy due to its recent adaptation into a television series for the Syfy network by Crank writer/director Brian Taylor. Others may come as fans of geek icon Patton Oswalt, who voices Happy The Horse in the new series. Still others will be drawn to the promise of dark humor in a holiday-themed setting.
Comic fans need no such excuses. They already know that Happy will be good because of the talent involved. The series was written by Grant Morrison – one of the most prolific and eclectic writers in Western graphic literature. The artwork is by the equally legendary Darick Robertson, best known for his work on the The Boys and Transmetropolitan – two other mature readers’ titles that, to borrow a tagline from the commercials for Happy the TV show, put the “graphic” in “graphic novel”.
The artwork in Happy is nothing if not graphic. There’s no outright nudity though there are a few mostly bare bottoms. There’s a lot of violence and Robertson lovingly depicts it in every gory bit of detail. He also does a fantastic job of capturing the Noir aesthetic of Morrison’s script. He also draws a mighty fine cute cartoon horsey.
To state the obvious, Happy is not appropriate reading for children. To be brutally honest, Happy is probably not appropriate reading for adults. While this is far from the oddest thing Grant Morrison has ever written, it is perhaps his darkest and least hopeful work to date.
The odd thing is how lifeless the script for Happy seems in spite of that. Morrison has written some great comics but there’s little evidence of the spark that usually infuses Morrison’s dialogue here. Wit is replaced with expletives and one almost feels like Morrison was purposely trying to write like frequent Robertson collaborator Garth Ennis. Whatever his intentions, Morrison’s dialogue here comes off as a half-hearted parody of Frank Miller’s work on Sin City.
Happy is a good read but fans of Morrison’s earlier works may find it disappointing outside of its concept. There’s little of the sense of wacky fun promised by the base idea and Morrison’s earlier work. Still, Darick Robertson’s artwork is as fantastic as ever and that alone should be reason enough to get Happy.
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.