Grant Morrison is legendary for crafting some of the strangest stories in comics, and Happy! is right there with the best of them. The titular imaginary blue horse didn’t show up til about halfway through the first issue, but this time he’s there right at the start. Here’s the official description of Happy! #2 from Image:
Trapped in a mob hospital at the mercy of the cold-eyed torture expert Smoothie and his team of dedicated sadists, the only hope for Nick Sax is Happy the Horse! With three days to Black Christmas, can our unlikely duo stay together long enough to stop Pedo-Santa’s rampage?
If there’s anything that Happy! owes a debt to, it’s the film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” with Nick and Happy being near identical characters to the movie’s Eddie and Roger. As with the Robert Zemeckis movie, the contrast between the more realistic humans and the cartoon/imaginary characters is heavily emphasized. The difference is that Morrison is able to push the envelope on violence and mature content beyond what a widely released film ever could.
There’s no doubt that Happy himself is the best thing about the book. Darick Robertson‘s art is hyper violent, realistic, and gritty, to the point that, without the imaginary blue horse, I wouldn’t want to read the story (which is doubtlessly the point). Luckily, Robertson draws the little azure equine just as well as everything else. The little fella’s just realistic enough to fit in with the rest of the book, but still animated and wacky enough to stand out. Morrison made an excellent choice in characterizing Happy as, you guessed it, happy, but not naive. Happy understands everything that’s happening, and, for the most part, holds no illusions about the goodness of the world. And yet he’s still cheerful and fun and, again, happy, and that makes him irresistible.
Happy! may not be the most original concept we’ve seen from Grant Morrison, but it hasn’t been explored as heavily as a lot of the others out there. Besides, Morrison and Robertson provide such a complete vision with so solid an atmosphere that the old idea is made new all over again.