“Over the top” doesn’t begin to cover it.
The first volume of Skottie Young’s I Hate Fairyland isn’t some sweet story in a land of spun-sugar towers and graceful unicorns, or the otherworldly beauty of Oz. It isn’t even the cute cartoon mayhem of his Little X-Men, Little Avengers issues.
Fairyland is violent and goofy and gross, as wacky a mess as you could ever want. Remember Toon Town in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It’s like that, only much much worse.
Gertrude fell through into Fairyland as a little kid, and was given a quest: find the key and you can go home. Twenty-seven years later and she is over it. She still looks like a ten year old, but she’s got all the impulse control of a drunk psychopath and the mouth of a sailor. She’s had it with street directions given in haiku and forests full of rabid chipmunks. She just wants out.
The art is hilarious and exhausting, panel after panel of gore and adorable little figments ripped limb from limb. At one point Gertrude defeats the local mushroom-hat militia by eating them alive, which sends her on a drug-induced hallucination, because of course it does. (Followed by throwing up a small lake: if you’re squeamish, don’t read this book, is what I’m saying.)
Skottie Young always draws the best expressions and the most dynamic action shots, but here he takes it to a whole new level. Gertrude blows things up, stabs people, carves out hearts, and squashes talking mice with beer mugs, usually with a maniacal, enraged grin.
Larry, shut your maggoty mouth. I’m trying to slo-mo away from this explosion and you’re killing my vibe.
The dialogue is full of fake cursing (faux-fanity: that’s a word, I swear) awful puns, and imaginative threats. And if you’re a thirty-something sadist in the body of a ten-year-old, it helps if you’re in a reality where even inanimate objects can feel pain.
The plot itself isn’t very sophisticated: Gertrude tries to find the key, destroys things, flings around body parts, people are sent to kill her and she kills them instead. Rinse, repeat. But if you were expecting Shakespeare, you’re in the wrong book. (Skottie’s equally as clever as Shakespeare, mind you, just in a weirder way.)
The ending is surprisingly unsatisfying, but I’m sure that was done on purpose: this wasn’t ever going to be a story with a happy ending. After all the pointless violence and gleeful carnage, ending this first arc the way he did was Skottie’s way of giving the reader one more well-placed kick in the…teeth.
And this is only the first volume.
This isn’t a cheerful book about happiness and rainbows and the meaning of friendship (if you’re looking for that I hear IDW’s My Little Ponies has a new book out too.) This is a book for when you’re tired of anything cute, when you want to stuff a pixie in a jar and shake it till the glitter comes off. It’s not a book for everybody, but if you like your magic mixed with mindless cartoon brutality, you should definitely pick it up.
Available April 20 from Image Comics.