Review: Dexter’s Laboratory #3

We’re down the rabbit hole in Dexter’s Laboratory #3, folks. And what a glittery, pink, sparkling rabbit hole it is. This rabbit hole is a Lisa Frank-ian nightmare. And in terms of this comic, it is genius. When I was a child (an actual child, not my current definition of child which is “anyone who’s never been harassed by a credit card company”), Dexter’s Lab was my favorite of the Cartoon Network shows. Samurai Jack put in a strong showing letter, but I was ride or die with Dexter’s Lab. Now, three months in, I have complete faith in Fridolfs and Jampole to recreate the spirit of the cartoon I loved so much, make it their own, and make it glorious.

In this issue, Dexter has entered the alternate dimension whence he wished Dee Dee. It is full of unicorns and sparkles and magic, and Dee Dee has crowned herself “princess,” ‘natch. Much as it seems that Dexter’s removal of Dee Dee from his reality removed his creative spark, it seems that the removal of Dexter from Dee Dee’s reality has removed her inquisitive streak, her need to touch the experiments, to dance around with joy at the world. It’s actually kind of tragic, and I love it.

DextersLab03-cvr copy 2There’s a lot of wonderful use of trope in this issue, especially ones that Dexter’s Laboratory usually doesn’t get to lean on. Dexter finds himself taken prisoner by a monarch who doesn’t remember him, which smacks to me of The Count of Monte Cristo, he finds out Dee Dee usurped the throne of a fairy princess (literally every fantasy book ever has one or both of those political developments), and unicorns are in fact real, and their horns are pointy. The only thing that is a familiar gag is Dee Dee’s legion of Lee Lee’s and Mee Mee’s, near-clones with similar names in Dee Dee’s outfit, but different colors. We’ve all seen a scientist turn out an imperfect clone or a thousand, but now she’s got magical best friends who magically look like her. Maybe they’re not so different, she and Dexter...

The dynamic that the creative team has introduced on this book with Dee Dee and Dexter as immutable sides of the same coin has been a hell of a lot of fun, and it only gets more fun in this issue. Dexter has been dropped out of his comfort zone into a world where science has no meaning; it’s illegal and no one believes in it. And in this realm, you can make things happen by believing strongly. Has Dexter ever come across that in his experiments? Did he ever have a thing to believe in beyond the value of doing the work and making whatever he decided to create that day? He’s faced with an upending of his traditional value, and that’s just good storytelling.

If Dexter’s Lab was never your bag, this comic’s not going to turn you into a fan any more than the show itself could have. If you are a fan, and you’re not reading this comic, you’ve got some serious thinking to do about your priorities.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Derek Fridolfs Artist: Ryan Jampole Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 6/11/14 Format: Mini-Series, Print/Digital