Haha #4 is published by Image Comics, written by W. Maxwell Prince with art by Patrick Horvath, and letters by Good Old Neon. Moving on from last month’s tale about a mime, readers are introduced to Gustav The Magnificent this month. Gustav is a performer at children’s birthday parties and a bit of a drunk who is struggling through some things. But his latest job has taken an odd turn, and maybe better days are ahead for old Gustav.
Thus far in this series, each story in this unique anthology has an element that makes it stand out against the stories before or after it. For Haha #4, two elements work for it. First, there is the surreal nature of the story that makes it stand out. Gustav has had the most bizarre thing happen to him. He seems to be inside a balloon! The second is that this story splits its narrative between two separate characters.
During his most recent performance, Gustav is shrunk and pulled into a balloon. How this happened isn’t explained, but it isn’t the main point of the story anyway. While in the balloon, Gustav finds more and more things just floating around. Even he floats. As he explores this rather cluttered balloon, he comes into contact with other individuals who have found their way to this strange space. As he searches deeper into this tiny realm, he eventually comes face to face with himself.
While Haha #4 follows Gustav on his journey through his new inflatable world, it also follows Chris. Chris is the young boy whose party Gustav was working when he was whisked away into the balloon. This splitting of its story is another unique turn for the series.
With his party over, Chris and his mom head to his grandfather’s house for presents and a cake. This tradition is not the highlight of Chris’s day. You see, as long as Chris has known his grandfather, he’s been a rather grumpy man. Chris’s grandmother died years ago, and his grandfather has never been the same since. But, who knows, maybe some time with the grandkid will do him some good.
Both halves of Haha #4’s story share one distinct thing that truly makes this book stand out from the previous entries. Their endings. I won’t say what makes these endings so different, but they leave me curious about what it may mean for the final two books of this series.
The art in this book does a solid job of delivering both halves of its story. While the linework is a bit simplistic at times, it resonates well with the nature of the story. What I truly appreciated, though, is the colors. This book’s colorwork has a distinct watercolor appearance that manages to enhance both the surreal nature of Gustav’s journey while also feeling perfectly at home in the mundane story of Chris’s day.
Wrapping up the presentation is the lettering. The letter work performs its job proficiently as it provides the reader with a clear and easy-to-follow delivery for the story.
When all is said and done, Haha #4 brings another unique tale to this anthology series. With its notable shift from the previous issues, I’m curious to see where it all goes from here.
Haha #4 is available now wherever comics are sold.
Haha #4 brings another unique tale to this anthology series. With its notable shift from the previous issues, I’m curious to see where it all goes from here.