REVIEW: ‘Haha,’ Issue #2

Reading Time: 3 minutes

haha #2 - But Why Tho?Meet Rudolph. She is a young woman with a story to tell ya. When she was young,  her mom stole her away one day to take a trip to Funville. A place, her mother told her, for people like them. People who accept who they truly are. Sounds like a good thing. At least until it goes completely wrong. Haha #2 is published by Image Comics, written by W. Maxwell Prince, art by Zoe Thorogood, colors by Chris O’Halloran, and letters by Good Old Neon.

There are all kinds out there. I’m speaking, of course, of people. And while many people come across as fairly similar, there are always those who land far further afield. Society is quick to label such individuals with terms like crazy and weird. Whether or not they were, or if it’s the label that makes them so, is a tough thing to figure out. Especially if you are a kid. And especially if the individual society has labeled so is your mom.

Haha #2 deals with a lot of sensitive subject matter. As the story opens, our protagonist Rudolph is backstage at her job at a roadside burlesque show pondering the events that put her on the path to where she is now. That path began when she was twelve, and her mom took her away from her home to make a pilgrimage (her mom’s choice of words) to Funville.

As Rudolph’s flashback begins, she is up in her room overhearing a discussion her dad has with a friend. The topic is her mom. Her mom has been declared mentally unwell and is refusing to take her prescribed medication. As her father rants about the situation downstairs, Rudolph sneaks out of the house to meet up with her mom. When she finds her, mom is done up in a classic clown style face paint. Chalk white all over, diamonds of blue above and below her eyes, and big red lips, cheeks, and nose.

As the two travel to their destination, at first, everything seems to go well enough. Aside from mom having to slip out at night to earn gas money and then returning with a nasty bruise under her eye. Until one night, when mom’s means of making money for their trip collides with little Rudolph. And the result is devastating.

Haha #2’s story is a hard one for me to judge. Prince’s writing packs a lot of emotion, but I’m left feeling unsure of what I’m expected to take away from this story at the end of the day. And while I have no problem with a story posting a question and leaving the reader to come up with their answer, I’m not even sure what or if there is a question at all. While the final page does give Rudolph a closing statement about what she thinks of her story, I feel like there must be something more there. It just leaves me feeling like something is missing.

The art by Thorogood delivers a grounded presentation to this book’s rocky tale. My favorite thing about the art here is how it seems to approach the entirety of the story even-handedly, with neither the good moments nor the bad being given a greater emphasis or exaggeration to them. It gives the reader the story as Rudolph experiences it. Nothing more and nothing less.

The colorwork here adds its own layer to the visual presentation. By focusing on paler, washed-out colors, colorist O’Halloran adds a subtle coat of bleakness to Rudolph’s story.

Wrapping up our look at Haha #2 is the lettering by Good Old Neon. The plain, basic lettering style here fits the tone of the book’s imagery perfectly. The less-is-more approach is exactly what this book calls for.

When all is said and done, Haha #2 takes readers on an uncomfortable journey with a mother and daughter as one seeks a fresh start in what she perceives as a promised land, and the other is brought along for the ride. It is a hard book to read, which leaves me grasping for a proper way to define it.

Haha #2 is available on February 17th, wherever comics are sold.

Haha #2
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TL;DR

When all is said and done, Haha #2 takes readers on an uncomfortable journey with a mother and daughter as one seeks a fresh start in what she perceives as a promised land, and the other is brought along for the ride. It is a hard book to read, which leaves me grasping for a proper way to define it.