Review: ‘Happy’ #3

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Grant Morrison’s twisted seasonal pipe dream continues with the third issue of Happy, where he is once again joined by artist Darick Robertson as disgraced Detective Nick Sax teams up with a very small, very vocal flying blue horse. This installment fleshes out Sax’s backstory and gives us a glance into what happened to make him such a foul-mouth, chain smoking, miserable bastard.

WRITTEN BY: Grant Morrison
ART BY: Darick Robertson
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
Price: $2.99
RELEASE: December 19, 2012

The premise of “Happy” is so delightfully bizarre that the backstory we’re given to explain Nick’s doom and gloom attitude is disappointingly generic by comparison. Considering that the book’s titular character is either a drug and/or physical trauma induced hallucination, as Sax would like to believe, or a magical creature that only the surly contract killer can see, one would think that Morrison would pull out all the stops to make Nick’s story as wild as all that. He doesn’t and while what we’re given isn’t necessarily bad, it’s admittedly somewhat pedestrian in its ambitions.

A great deal of the book is spent on the battle of wills between Nick’s perpetual pessimism and Happy’s grating cheerfulness. Being the grizzled, cop-turned-killer that he is, Nick simply doesn’t have it in him to believe in the magic of tiny blue pegasi. Happy, on the oher hand, is unrelenting in his efforts to bring Nick around.

Happy’s young charge, Hailey, is still in grave danger and since Sax is the only adult who can see him, Nick really is his only hope. The argument stretches on a tad too long and Nick’s explosive Negative Nancy outbursts fall flat after a while. Since this is a mini-series and the clock is ticking on Nick’s disbelief, he inevitably comes around and the reveal as to why he can see Happy when others can’t is the most interesting moment in the book.

Darick Robertson’s art continues to be as dark and as grim as it needs to be and the grit is nicely offset by Happy’s vibrant blue coloring. The handful of scenes where we get to see the kiddie slaughtering Santa have their own sickly palette, supplied by colorist Tony Avina. Robertson’s penchant for lovingly drawn details and Avina’s expert coloring bring Morrison’s vision to life, even when the story itself becomes a little lackluster. The last few pages see our surly protagonist find his motivation and it’s likely that, now that the preliminaries are out of the way, the Dynamic Duo of Sax and Happy can finally get down to business.

3.5/5 Skulls

Reviewed by MelissaGrey