Peace out, birches.
Last we saw Gertrude, she was facing certain doom (again) in the depths of Darketh Deadeth’s castle, hoping to gain access to his power. This issue opens with Happy finding the Key and preparing to leave, but as this is a Skottie Young book, I’m sure that that’s exactly what’s going to happen. So far, we’ve met four narrators who’ve met with four grisly fates, but, again, I’m sure that Skottie Young wouldn’t use that old gag again . . . Okay, shut it. I know and this issue once again ups the ante with the death and goo (“Why am I dripping with goo?” – hehehehe), and we finish with a moment straight out of George R.R. Martin’s playbook, with a fatal flaw making the best-laid plans go all right to hell.
There’s nothing here we haven’t seen before, which means that every page is stacked to its garters with awesome (*SCREAM!* Sorry, ma’am). We get a showdown with the whole of reality on the line and plenty of opportunities for foul-mouthed heathens to utter adorable curse substitutes that still manage to convey precisely the thought behind them. For reals, I think Mr. Young has a brilliant and disturbing ability on display here, and it never fails to make me giggle. This series is so much fun because the world of the Fey is based on rules that exert a nearly mortal pressure on the immortals who dwell there, and Gertrude quite successfully manages to urinate all over it (Metaphorically. Don’t worry about seeing any of that in here.), weaving a path of cuddly destruction in her wake. The twist at the end will make sure that we get to anticipate a whole new dimension to this structure.
I’m not sure if I’d be more worried if Skottie Young’s dreams looked more like a Metallica album cover or the saccharine-fueled bloodbath he puts on for us here. I think my favorite part of the madness is that, much like Jim Henson, most anything can become a sentient denizen of the world and, much un-like Jim Henson, become a deflated flesh balloon oozing viscera. But, cute like. Beaulieu adds the phenomenal color clashes between Fairyland’s sweetness and Gertrude’s putrescence, and this issue is the best example yet. He matches the tone of Young’s artwork brilliantly and ensures that the imagery would feel right at home in ol’ Walt’s darkest fantasies. Young’s artwork has always been a major draw for me, and I love when he gets to play with his own world and rules. The dichotomy between his cutesy style and the subject matter he often displays is always a refreshing trip away from the dark and dour “gritty” vibe that has been in vogue since Chris Nolan put Bale in the Batsuit. It’s fun, and I could go through his work anytime for hours.
There’s something for every fan of this series so far going on in this closure of the first arc. And, holy crap is it closed. The future looks good for this series in its new direction and promises to turn the tide in several very important ways, with loads of new encounters that should provide a significant tickle in every forthcoming issue.
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