The first issue of “Happy!” by Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson was fun if a bit of a surprise in places; it was much more dark and grimy than we’d seen from Morrison in a while. With “Happy!” #2, though, the pace has slowed down a bit, and in doing so, some of that initial excitement has inevitably faded.
The bulk of “Happy!” #2 can be divided into two parts: Nick escaping the hospital and Nick refusing to believe in Happy’s existence. The first half feels a little overly long in places, but on the whole that’s not the real problem with this issue. If nothing else, it tells readers the level of power that the mob wields in “Happy!” and how deep their influence runs. The scene is Maireadh is fantastic, and on the whole I enjoyed the sequence. Once the second half gets rolling, though, “Happy!” grinds to a halt as Nick refuses to believe over and over again.
At this point, there’s one of two options available for Morrison’s intent. The first is to try and plant doubt into the mind of the reader on if Happy is real or not. The only problem is that Morrison himself has given us too much evidence on Happy’s existence being there to fall for that. There’s too much stuff going on that Happy knows about that couldn’t be written off as Nick’s subconscious. (It would also gut the central premise of the series before we’d gotten halfway through, but I suppose if someone was going to do that, it would be Morrison.) That leaves us with option #2, which is that Nick is stubborn and refusing to believe the admittedly fantastical even as it hovers in front of him. The problem with that option is that it’s an exercise in frustration for the reader. Few people seem to like watching a main character refuse to believe what the audience knows is true, and “Happy!” #2 is no exception to that. It ends up tarnishing the character of Nick a bit as our protagonist; he’s gotten a little annoying and the urge to slap him has grown immensely.
Roberton’s art in “Happy!”#2 is on the whole pretty good. Maireadh’s blank face as she smokes a cigarette is a riot, for instance, and beautifully executed. Nick comes across as a good rough and tumble guy; his cradling his head in the hospital while aiming a gun and asking for coffee is wonderfully composed and it sums up the entire scene in a single image. It’s definitely one of his better creations, visually. That said, Nick manages to get pants and shoes a full page before he actually acquires them (he has them on when he bursts into the kitchen, even though it’s only upon exiting that he demands them from the staff); it’s a weird little artistic glitch that stands out because of the dialogue.
“Happy!” is an oddly paced mini-series. One would expect that we’d be a lot further into the story by now; considering we’re now only getting the reveal on who the kidnapper is (even though we saw him last month), it feels a bit slow. Now that we’ve finally got Nick believing, plus us having seen the location of the victim, hopefully the remaining two issues will kick everything into high gear. It’s still a nice read, but “Happy!” #2 felt a lot less compelling than that first attention-grabbing issue.