There is no way I can describe Happy! #1 to you that's going to be any better than the line used by Vince Moore (also the writer of Dynamite's recent Total Recall series, which is a direct sequel to the Arnold Schwarzenegger film) to sell me on it at my local shop Comics Ink: "You should get this. It's like Grant Morrison took a Garth Ennis character and said 'here, smoke this.'"
That's exactly what this book is.
"Nick Sax is a cunt," we're told on the first page, by jerks who have been hired to kill said cunt. "A professional cast-iron cunt." The first time we see Sax, it's after comes across a guy dressed as a some kind of beetle getting a hummer from a hooker he's about to kill with a hammer, and he shoots the freak in the head. Turns out he was a serial killer named Jack the Hammer, and he just saved the hooker's life. In return, he has her do a favor for him – hang a sign out the window to mess with the people across the street. Those people happen to be the jerks from earlier. Seems Sax hired them himself, just to get them in the same room so he could kill them first, as he was hired to do by "a bad man."
Turns out there was a stray he didn't expect, and Sax winds up shot and bleeding out on the street. On the ambulance ride, he starts to hallucinate some weird blue cartoon unicorn pegasus donkey-thing telling him to hold on. This would be when the "smoke this" part kicks in. Turns out Sax used to be the best detective on the force, but now he's a wreck, and his former colleague Maireadh McCarthy (for those of you ignorant like me, her first name likely rhymes with "parade") is now at his hospital bedside to rub it in. And to try and get the secret password to the Fratelli fortune, as apparently he's the only guy who knows it. The Fratellis being the jerks he just killed. Seems McCarthy's in debt to a "bad man," and is thus compromised.
And thus, the weird blue cartoon unicorn pegasus donkey-thing, who claims he's Hailey's imaginary friend Happy the Horse, is the only one who's going to help Sax escape the mob hospital where more jerks are about to torture that password out of him. Who's Hailey? Not sure. Ex-wife, long lost daughter, or just some other kid in trouble who happens to have an actual imaginary friend, or a spirit animal, or a familiar, or a telepathic whozie-whats. We'll have to see, but for right now, Morrison's telling a story about a cast-iron cunt with a tiny blue talking horse following him around. That's entertainment!
The art from Darick Robertson is pretty solid as well, which makes the contrast between gritty, violent realism and Disney-fied Happy more fun. It's possible this whole concept will cross the line between clever and "clever," but for right now, Happy! #1 is a goofy blend of overblown crime drama with overblown cutesy fun. No telling where Morrison is going to take this one.