If I were to, in a fit of thematic pique, describe I Hate Fairyland as a type of candy, it would be an Atomic Fireball, dipped in whiskey and sucked on by a syphilitic prostitute of advanced years. It is sweet and unsavory, completely debauched, absolutely insane, and leaves a deep sense of burning (for more). It is Candy Land meets Child’s Play, and its latest issue proves -- through a couple of hiccups -- why it’s still one of the best Image books out there right now. After an ill-fated introductory run-in with yet another unlucky magical narrator at issue three’s ouset, our Fairyland-cruiser/bruiser, Gertrude, continues her vast and seemingly unstoppable swathe of destruction as she searches for her key home from the saccharine hell-scape in which she has been trapped after an errant childhood wish. And it continues to be a pun-rich, deliriously disquieting experience, filled with the, frankly, hilarious suffering and gruesome deaths of literal piles of magical creatures. And yet, much like Gertrude’s estimation of her own misadventure, this issue wasn’t perfect. But first, let’s talk about all the amazing stuff I Hate Fairyland #3 gets right.
Scottie Young’s sick fuckery is charming stuff. Not previously being a collector of his variant covers, and only dabbling in his work heretofore, I never realized how great he is at committing his sense of humor to the page. Visually, of course, his style here resonates with the iconically clean, phosphorescent sheen that gives all of his work an effortlessly smooth polish and endearing charm.
Again, I know a few readers have said that they suffer “Scottie Young Fatigue,” but luckily that’s an ailment I haven’t yet caught; quite the opposite, in fact, as his style is absolutely necessary to carry this book, rife as it is with cartoon gruesomeness. Of course, I’d be remiss in not mentioning the amazingly vibrant colors of Jean-Francois Beaulieu and the skillfully-chosen lettering of Nate Piekos, both of whom are clearly in on the series joke, and make Young’s art sing all the more for it.
What I have been equally, perhaps even more impressed with (simply because I wasn’t expecting it) is how Young has conducted his humor narratively in this, his first creator-owned series. He’s rarely failed to elicit a titter or two in his gags, especially this time in the little asides he gives both main and ancillary characters alike. That off-handed joke near issue’s end, for example -- from the little polkadot cop-hater -- is downright dynamite, because it’s so far out of left field...just like this book in general.
Saying that, another of my favorite aspects of I Hate Fairyland so far has been its bluntness. It subverts the oft-gooey all-ages genre with all the subtlety of a battle-axe; and yet, there is a moment in this issue -- fleeting though it may be -- where, in a rare fit of sympathy, Young flirts with revealing the nougat center of Gertrude’s meanness. As I said, the sentiment of the scene, which notes how much she misses her parents, isn’t heavy-handed or overly maudlin, and very quickly passes like a fart in the wind; but it also speaks volumes that even in a story like this, with a character like Gertrude, the writer can so enticingly allow his audience to crack into its hard candy shell.
Finally, it was great to see a progression from what I thought was going to be a series-long “savior-of-the-week” model, where Queen Cloudia inundates her hated child-like foe with salvo after salvo of handpicked soldiers. However, the wrinkle ironed in this time -- a new child brought in to fulfill Fairyland’s prophecy, so that Cloudia can finally be free of (read: eviscerate) Gertrude -- was an interesting twist (as was the girl’s apparently lethal Care Bear Glare), and one that I’m looking forward to seeing unfold more.
My only problem is that the above progress, as well as the pacing of the issue in total, felt stilted by a six-page time-lapse joke that came across more as filler than anything of real substance or humor. Even if it does allow Young to stay on-target, that kind of repetition is a pet comic book peeve of mine, and was something of a disappointment from the sugar-high-octane, murder-fluff-killfest this thing has been up to this point.
Still, I don’t hate I Hate Fairyland #3, and it continues the series’ roll as one of my most surprisingly enjoyable reads this year (SPOILER: It even made my Comic Bastards year-end list). If Young and company can keep the pace and those jokes fresh, then like Gertrude, this book will never get old for me.
I Hate Fairyland #3 Writer/Artist: Scottie Young Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu Letterer: Nate Piekos Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 12/16/15 Format: Print/Digital