Best Shots Advance Reviews: WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN, HAPPY!

 

Wolverine and the X-Men #17

Written by Jason Aaron

Art by Mike Allred and Laura Allred

Lettering by Clayton Cowles

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by David Pepose

'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

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You know it's hard out there for a Doop.

After all the relentless hoopla of , Jason Aaron throws on the brakes hard with this brisk comedy focusing on the Jean Grey School's unintelligible green blob. What does Doop do at Wolverine's academy, other than pass out in the halls, the classrooms, and everywhere else on campus?

Turns out, quite a lot.

Falling somewhere between the dedication of Pepper Potts and a book of Chuck Norris jokes, Doop's story has its tongue firmly in cheek. From roller derby matches with the Avengers to seducing half of New York's school board to taking on the League of Nazi Bowlers, this is Jason Aaron at his goofiest, with the character perfectly matching the tone. It's far from in-depth, but as we cut from scene to scene with all the violence of an old Looney Tunes cartoon, you'll find this is a nice palate cleanser after all the darker in-continuity stuff that's been going on lately.

Meanwhile, to see Mike Allred draw Doop again is a welcome reunion. Allred's clean pop-art lines actually work surprisingly well with the innate rough design of Wolverine, and you actually find yourself wishing he had more opportunities to draw the grizzled, clawed mutant. But Allred's off-kilter, wide-eyed weirdness is still a great fit for Doop's excellent adventures. Doop's expressiveness is definitely Allred's secret weapon here, with the exhausted look on his face making you care for the multi-talented, overworked blob.

That said, if this comic is guilty of one sin, it's that it does take one joke and beat it completely to death — so if you're not a fan of Doop going on crazy adventures, you are going to flat-out hate this book. If you're looking for a deeper story that affects the Jean Grey School, you probably won't like this book, either. But if you're invested in this school, invested in the characters, and are interested in zooming in on one administrator's dangerous day-to-day, you could do much worse than this.

 

Happy! #1

Written by Grant Morrison

Art by Darick Robertson and Richard P. Clark

Lettering by Simon Bowland

Published by Image Comics

Review by Vanessa Gabriel

‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10

Happy! #1 is anything but.

Vomit, expletives and a Jack the Ripper-inspired serial killer greets you within the first few pages. Think meets .

The story centers around Nick Sax, a former cop turned hitman whose misery emanates from the pages. With Christmas right around the corner, Nick heads out into the seedy, snow-covered city to murder a couple of mob brothers. Our protagonist is not a good guy. In order to contrast that, the other characters are downright vile. While Nick manages to blow the heads off of a couple of bad guys, with bad being entirely relative, there are even worse characters on the horizon.

If I read Happy #1 without considering the creative team, I probably would not have made it past the first few pages. This brutal, heavily inked story is chock full of raw language and hard-edged masculinity, which I don’t find particularly compelling. But you have to consider the creative team. Mostly you have to consider Grant Morrison. As someone who calls junkies and pedophiles a “colorful” part of the modern world, clearly he is pushing the boundaries of Happy intentionally.

Happy #1 smacks you with a healthy dose of absurdity. Or shoots you with it. There are a lot of guns. There is also a bright blue flying horse, complete with a purple unicorn horn… named Happy. And Morrison leads up to this apparition of Nick’s mind with the kind of cussing that typically graces Tarantino films. I lost count of the F-bombs after page three.

I like to cuss as much as the next girl, but Morrison goes overboard. Maybe sociopathic hitmen really do talk like that. I wouldn’t know. The point is Morrison’s characters do, and it may or may not be authentic. But the sheer volume of explicit language pulls you out of the story. So does the blue cartoon horse. I know what Happy the horse is; I get what the character is meant to do. This book is about sharp contrast, and I think ultimately Happy will hold greater meaning for the protagonist. But right now, in issue #1, it is ridiculous. And I know that is intentional, too.

Darick Robertson and Richard P. Clark execute the tone of the book perfectly. The art is dark and gritty. Robertson’s layout and perspective creates engaging moments throughout the issue. Clark’s color work punches the contrasting moments in the story to life.

With such a solid creative team, you think I would have enjoyedHappy #1more. But I didn’t.  You have to be in to this sort of thing. I don’t mean you have to be into Morrison. You have to have a taste for violence, filth and psychopathology, and make sure you have an open mind on the tail end of that. Then perhaps it is enjoyable. Maybe Morrison’s intention is not enjoyment. If that’s the case, then he wins. Out of some masochistic desire, here I am wondering what happens next.

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