These days especially, it would be nice if the majority of the people we knew were in a happy place. Which admittedly isn’t easy with everything currently going on. But what if it was actually against the law to be unhappy? In fact, to be apparently unhappy might warrant you a beat down and arrest. Sound crazy? Well that’s the premise of Ahoy Comics newest release Happy Hour.

Happy Hour

Written by Peter Milligan and with art by Michael Montenat, Happy Hour explores a scenario where unhappiness is not allowed. Regardless of what you are experiencing in your life. Death, taxes, divorce, it doesn’t matter. You are expected to literally “grin and bear it.” The consequences could mean spending some time in the “Readjustment Center.” The goal? To maintain control of the populace by forcing general acceptance of just about anything. Isn’t that special? Not everyone thinks so.

Jerry and Kim

Welcome to the life of Jerry Stephens. Originally, he was onboard the happy train. Nothing really effected him. Talks about Cancer amongst relatives were dismissed as unimportant, mainly because at least the weather was nice. But that all changed after a car accident left him with a head injury. His sister had passed away in the crash and he was miserable. But now he not only noticed his despair but also questioned why no one else felt the same way…including his own Mother. What the heck is wrong with these people?

Fortunately for Jerry, he was not alone in his desire to embrace his own unhappiness. Meet Kim. She was an Olympic Athlete. A judo master who had ambitions of Gold. Unfortunately, she ran into a tough Korean Athlete and a huge dose of overconfidence and the unthinkable happened. She lost. Kim had to settle for Bronze and she was pissed. Of course, such negative feelings are frowned upon in the antiseptic, always wear a smile world they now lived in. So she too found herself at the Readjustment Center. The home of those in mourning, sore losers, and anyone else who might have had a particularly bad day. Can’t have that now can we?

In Hamm They Trust

If there seems to be a bright spot, a reason to believe that you don’t HAVE to conform to their happiness, it was Agent Hamm. He had somehow maintained his gloomy outlook despite their best efforts. He was a beacon of misery and despair, someone to look down at. At least he was, until he was subjected to a new treatment. Something so heinous and vile, I can’t even discuss it. I leave it to you good reader to find out. Needless to say, 48 hours later…Hamm was one of them. A charter member of the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” crew (with apologies to Bobby McFerrin). What that meant to Jerry and Kim was, if they could do that to Hamm, they needed to get out of there.

Thoughts

Happy Hour is such an interesting look at how civil and social unrest might be addressed in this fictional tale. Writer Peter Milligan explores in this satirical format, how the cure for such public misery and suffering might be as easy as making people happy…or else. One could see how those who sometimes embrace their gloom might find such a place unnerving. It has been said to never trust someone who seems to smile all the time. If that was the case, in this misanthropic place, you wouldn’t trust almost anyone. Sometimes you just need to be miserable, if that makes you happy…so to speak. Milligan captures it superbly. (I also like the nod to Ahoy Editor Tom Peyer in the “Peyer Unhappiness Scale”…at least I assume that’s what that is.)

Eneba Many GEOs

Artist Michael Montenat works flawlessly with Milligan in this world that vacillates between inane smiling people and those who will gladly beat you, shock you, and drug you…all in the name of happiness. Although I doubt Montenat has ever had to draw so many smiling faces. Even when their doing bad things. That’s disturbing all on its own. Which I’m sure is the whole point.

I highly recommend Happy Hour to anyone who wants to read a unique take on how a fictional society might address the ills of that society. Who knows, it might put a smile on your face.🖖🏻


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