I once again apologize for an absence. Kids, kids in school, sick kids and then sick me. It’s been a cornucopia of awesomeness. So let’s just jump back into reviews, shall we?
HAPPY! #1 by Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson- A new off-beat creation from Grant Morrison? I figured I can finally get in on the ground floor of something Morrison did outside of the Superhero mainstream. Yeah, I’m one of those. I was aware of Morrison, but I didn’t really give him much of a shot before his run on JLA. After that, I have mostly just read his mainstream stuff. (Yes, I plan on reading The Invisibles and The Filth. Give me time!) For me, Morrison is either firing on all cylinders(Batman, New X-Men, All-Star Superman), or being incoherent in the name of being fresh and different(Final Crisis). There really is no middle ground. After reading the entire first issue of HAPPY!, I’m not entirely sure which Grant we’re getting, but I am enjoying him so far.
The story starts out as a gangster movie/TV Show pastiche. We seem to be getting gore and sexual situations just because it’s an IMAGE publication, and therefore we can. Bullets, blood, begging for life, crooked cops, reference to an account with untold riches…then just when you think you've had enough, a cute blue cartoon winged horse shows up. The ridiculous juxtaposition somehow works.
Since this is just the first issue, and what seems to be the point of the story has only just appeared, I still don’t quite know which Grant we’re getting. The situation created has major potential for humor and craziness. I honestly can’t wait to see where Morrison goes with this. I actually laughed out loud at one moment while reading, and that was before the horse showed up. For someone known for craziness, Morrison is actually a very funny guy in person so I’d love to see his humor come through full force.
Robertson’s art is at an all time high. I’ve never hated his art, I’ve just never been all that impressed by it before. He shows more detail than I’ve noticed before, and his characters are a bit more distinctive than I felt they were in the past. The pages flow great, and for someone who’s known for gritty, dark artwork he knocks the cartoon horse right out of the park. So, overall I found it really enjoyable, definitely going to be keeping up with this one. Come on Grant, keep it up. As usual, I am rooting for you.
A FINE & PRIVATE PLACE #1 by Peter Gillis and Eduardo Francisco (based on Peter S. Beagle’s story)- I’ve never read the story this was based on, so I don’t know if it would enhance or diminish my appreciation of this adaptation. It was somewhat confusing at first. A crow that can carry two pounds of bologna…okay. Then the crow speaks to an older man in a graveyard. His name is Rebeck and he lives in a mausoleum at a graveyard. He speaks to the crow, he speaks to a dead man, and then a lady comes to visit her husband’s grave and he speaks to her. They seem to hit it off, despite the previously mentioned dead man interfering in the conversation. Then Rebeck tries to leave with her and something happens. Maybe. See Rebeck makes an excuse not to leave with her and she goes without him. It’s hard to tell if Rebeck can’t leave or won’t leave. Is he unable to mentally/emotionally, or is something truly trapping him within the walls of this graveyard? The scene isn't clearly played in either direction, so I can’t begin to predict. It just suddenly ends there with no explanation.
It almost felt (once again) as if they were writing a graphic novel and decided to cut it into individual issues, without any concern for where it cuts off. It’s an interesting enough start to a story, it in no way stands on its own though. Maybe there was supposed to be something played through the emotions of Rebeck’s face in the final scene? If so, it was not conveyed by the art, which was pretty good by the way, somewhere between Sal LaRocca and Brett Booth. Maybe the penciller botched that scene, but I doubt it. If it was intended as an intriguing cliffhanger to draw you in for the next issue, that didn’t work so well either. If I read further it will be because of everything else in the book besides the ending. I was enjoying a nice, quiet ghost story and then it just stopped for no discernable reason other than page count. It's irritating because the story was really feeling like it had something to say, but we are obviously not near the point yet. This story is so obviously served better by consuming it as a whole, why not publish it that way? Maybe I will wait for the collected edition and read it at a book store.
Well there you have it. Two completely new books, off the beaten path and quite enjoyable in two completely different ways. Let me know what you think if you read them.
Sean Stoltey, writer, raconteur and retired rabble rouser, hails originally from California's Central Coast but currently resides in Southern California's BEAUTIFUL--San Fernando Valley. Screenwriter, Comic Book author, these are things he does because he's too poor to be a Producer or Publisher.
Sean has been reading comics, watching movies, reading books and selling his soul (or at least his hearing) to Rock'n'Roll for as long as he can remember. He has been discussing and arguing about these things for almost as long.
So now he has come here to throw his opinions in your face as well and hope that, even if you don't agree, hopefully you will enjoy them. For the record: Kirk was the greatest Enterprise Captain, Han was the only one that shot, Led Zeppelin was the greatest Rock band to walk the Earth and Keith Richards is the coolest undead person to walk the Earth. Coolest living people are my sons and my Mom and Dad. My Dad F---in' rocks, and my Mom can kick your ass.
You can ask Sean anything at http://www.formspring.me/WWest3001 contact him via twitter @WWest3001 or boring old e-mail at SeanStoltey@yahoo.com