Review: Haha #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Vanesa R. Del Rey
Colors: Chris O’Halloran
Letters: Good Old Neon
Reviewed by: Carl Bryan
“What was funny a few years ago isn’t funny anymore.” – Donny…Bart’s boss.
HAHA #1 – ICE CREAM MAN writer W. MAXWELL PRINCE brings his signature style of one-shot storytelling to the world of clowns—and he’s invited SOME OF THE COMIC INDUSTRY’S BEST ARTISTS to join him for the ride.
HAHA is a genre-jumping, throat-lumping look at the sad, scary, hilarious life of those who get paid to play the fool—but these ain’t your typical jokers.
With issues drawn by VANESA DEL REY (REDLANDS), GABRIEL WALTA (Vision), ROGER LANGRIDGE (Thor), and more, HAHA peeks under the big top, over the rainbow, and even inside a balloon to tell a wide-ranging slew of stories about “funny” men and women, proving that some things are so sad you just have to laugh.
First issues are always intriguing. What is going to be the start of a new comic? Are we on the ground floor of something new? Is this just a reboot of something we have seen before?
Unfortunately for the inaugural issue of Haha #1, this six issue mini-series has too many nods to well….you know who.
W. Maxwell Prince seems to direct a lot of this story to a combination of two clowns…a Joaquin Phoenix homage Joker and a subtle nod to Pennywise in both costume as well as an Easter Egg frame within the actual comic. Avid Stephen King readers will recognize that paper boat aimlessly floating towards a storm drain.
With DC devoting 2020 to the Joker with The Joker War, The Batman Who Laughs and Jason Fabok’s Three Jokers, it is quite possible that comic readers would be a bit sick of clowns. Given that and the cinema success of Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as The Joker, you have a lot of the angles covered.
The only mystery in this first of a six issue series is the ending….an open ended mystery as to how such a tragic character now views the world after the series of events Prince has written into his protagonist Bart’s life. Do I want to know more about “B”? Maybe, but I think this script has been played out lately.
Vanesa R. Del Rey‘s pencils are more optimistic than the story. Not that Prince’s work on the story is bad. It is just a tragedy…a reflection of what has driven people lately into a bit of madness and desperation.
Del Rey’s art reflects that landscape as well as the erosion of vision that Bart experiences once trauma hits full blown in his life. Kudos to her for slipping that Stephen King homage or two in! We all love an Easter Egg.
Some stories feel like a good visit again. For instance, when you might read Three Jokers for the upteenth time or even visit The Killing Joke or read IT even though you know the outcome. Perhaps that is why this first “sad clown story” falls short.
We’ve been here before. Readers have imagined and “reimagined” it. Authors have examined it from almost every lens. Again, given the state of both economic and political events that have transpired lately, perhaps the human tragedy has been played out so much, we want our comics a bit lighter…especially if clowns are involved.
But to echo the quote above…”those things are not funny anymore”.
Prince had a tough job. It’s what every fastfood company did when McDonald’s came up with the Big Mac. They had to come up with their own copy. The Joker inundated us last year in both comics and the cinema. This is a case where we need to change the lyric and “Send OUT the Clowns”.