Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Sea Monster In The Tub: Reviewing ‘I Hate Fairyland’ #4

Basic hygiene is often considered a fundamental aspect of life, even if one is traveling through a fantasy realm rather than reality. Those hygiene manners take quite a turn though when one happens to be adjacent to the realm of Fairyland. A simple bath becomes a pretty bonkers matter of life and death.

I thought last month’s send-up of a certain ’80s film about creatures multiplying thanks to ill-timed food and just a splash of water was pretty damn wild. It turns out that was just the tip of a pretty damn wild iceberg with far more of its body of work to share with us. One knows what they are getting with this series, but they also don’t know what they are getting with this series. Gert being devoured by a massive sea monster and seemingly living out a warped lifetime within the being’s stomach (with a hilarious twist at the end) is a perfect example.

There is not much I can do to really do this issue justice by writing about it, this is something that has to be experienced to truly understand. I mean really that describes this whole series as Skottie Young continuously pulls out all the stops and sends Gert and her companions on the most screwed-up graphic dire adventures with the bare semblance of a plot dictating why flapping around the edges somewhere. I love that despite there being a mission, the characters rarely talk about it too much (they even joked in the last issue about seemingly forgetting about it a bit) but it still propels the story forward because of their continued jaunt to try and get back to Fairyland.

This side space alongside Fairyland is not even just as screwed up as that place, it’s even more screwed up. Young brought the series back after a few years’ hiatus and decided that the only way to go after that was as deep into the depravity and wildness as possible and that was the best call.

Some truly over-the-top situations here take a unique mind to dream up and then a very unique receptive mind to turn those ideas into visual reality. Good thing Young has Brett Bean here to provide that receptive unique mind of creation since he isn’t on the artwork himself this time. Bean goes all in and captures all the depravity and cartoonishness and everything else with an energetic flourish. We have a whole double-page spread of naked Gert being bounced through the interior workings of this sea monster and it is equal parts glorious/gorgeous as it is utterly disgusting. Just the way that it should be.

Bean crafts such detailed imagery that has the perfect emotional energy to it, the facial expressions and body language are on point but also tells the story so fully that this could be an entirely silent issue and we would 100% know exactly what is going down. Which is great since Young pulls back on the dialogue/exposition in a great chunk of this issue, what is there brought to life as usual by Nate Piekos, letting the artwork do all the talking as we witness the Fairyland adjacent version of Naked & Afraid but with someone that is demented, not afraid, and is Gert.

Since we’re inside a sea beast for most of this issue there are tons of things that are not ‘normal’ to our realistic mindset to be found here, and Jean-Francois Beaulieu makes sure to bridge the gap between the real and the fantastical with a color palate that nails vibrant but toned down so well. Gert and other things about her come with pretty normal colors but the beast and other elements pull from tons of very bright colors that are not overly bright, just enough that they stand out as something different but do not overpower the scene/take our focus away from the main subject. Pinks of the interior of a being that is a pink we recognize but a bit pinker with tons of oranges and greens and other colors that clash with reality and make sure this place lives up to its fantastical qualities.

Together they make sure that while this book is over-the-top and brutal in many ways, the way it’s drawn and colored never shies away from that but also doesn’t overly expose those qualities. Body fluids or moments are toned down in quality and appearance to make sure we get the gist and maybe feel a bit put off but are not closing the book because it’s just like a full gore gross-out fest.

As I noted Piekos is behind the lettering once more and does it so well. It has all the same energy as every other bit of artwork in this series, that energy that transcends all boundaries. Well-placed lettering in the form of dialogue and captions dance through the pages to help guide us through panels as they dispense information or quips or anything else and keep us on track. Colorful as the rest of the artwork, Piekos makes sure that the dialogue that needs to be highlighted and front and center gets that treatment through color changes to the font or the speech bubbles themselves or even size/font type changes as necessary.

I Hate Fairyland #4 is now available from Image Comics.

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