Play It Loud, Play It Proud: Reviewing ‘I Hate Fairyland’ #5
by Scott Redmond
Complications and disappointments are quite familiar to Gert as ‘I Hate Fairyland’ #5 closes out the series’ first story-arc in this second volume, closing some doors while opening others with a swift kick. A truly unique issue that comes with a very particular additional piece of media that takes things to a whole new level. This is an issue that must be experienced.
Hello, there comic book readers! Are you ready to rock? Because I Hate Fairyland #5 is ready to rock and roll baby.
Comic books have a natural relationship with other mediums, some creators and companies getting very unique and creative with ways to tie together other types of media together with the comics that we love and enjoy. What this creative team pulled off to end this first arc of the returned Image Comics series is some top-notch stuff.
Cutting right to the chase, this issue spends the vast majority of time as basically a silent issue with no lettering (dialogue or captions) till the very end, but it’s not meant to be enjoyed silently. Nope, they got the indie band Jack the Radio to create a song inspired by I Hate Fairyland that is meant to accompany the reading of this issue. An issue that is ¾ montage as we speed through the lengths Gert must go through in order to finally, after years, breakthrough into Fairyland proper to begin her mission to save the song of the Villionaire Wiggins as well as help him exploit the land for profit (more on that in a bit).
It falls onto Brett Bean and Jean-Francois Beaulieu fully here to create imagery that tells every bit of the story without a single word needing to be uttered. Good thing they’ve been doing that sort of thing and knocking it out of the park for this whole new volume of the series.
There is a powerful energy that radiates from the work that Bean brings to the page, so full of life and emotion and able to communicate so much while also building such a deep and lived-in feeling world. It’s the emotional part that is key, as the facial expressions and body language of Gert and the others fully sell the story as it fully fits into the show don’t tell mentality.
In order to match the energy provided by the song for the issue, the way that the panels are set up instantly gives off an epic rock sort of feeling. Full-on views that range from close-ups to extreme close-ups to wide-open shots, all of them surrounded by a jagged black border which really helps encapsulate the big action feeling. Others are surrounded by a white border which brings a brighter sort of feeling that befits those panels which are more about the overall quest, less action moments, and more personal or quieter moments.
Also, having the members of the band popping in and out in the background, playing their hearts out, leading up to the moment they are called out at the end is utter perfection.
Speaking of colors, Beaulieu does a stellar job as usual riding that line between the overly vibrant fantastical colors and the more sort of toned down more realistic ones. Everything about Fairyland and this adjacent land are big and bright and cartoony but having the more toned-down elements, for a lot of the scenery and noncharacter elements, makes those big bright pieces like the monsters or Gert’s hair/clothes and such pop even more. Too much of the overly bright without the balancing sort of colors might make it all bleed together, but Beaulieu makes sure it all harmonizes and creates something special with each issue.
Skottie Young has had such a unique vision for this series since kicking it off years ago and coming back from the hiatus the unique ideas have been perfectly unexpected. If you had asked me what to expect of this first arc of the new volume there is no way I would have ever guessed we’d have a send-up of Gremlins, a whole bathing adventure in the stomach of a sea monster, or an almost silent issue with an accompanying rock song. That’s one of the things that makes this series so great is expecting the unexpected isn’t even the right way to go about it because the levels of unexpected are off the charts.
It’s not all unexpected twists and turns and style choices, there is a heart to this story. Even in just this issue, there is some truly emotional stuff and well-crafted ideas. Virgil and Gert’s tearful goodbye was just so good, no words were needed as we could see it all on their faces thanks to Bean’s work. At the same time, the twist about what is happening to Gert with this trip to Fairyland was hilarious while also making one feel bad for the character. Turns out Wiggins son already got out from Fairyland quite some time ago and there is more money to be made in the virtual Wigginsverse (hmm wonder what that could be referring to in the real world…), so now Gert is trapped in Fairyland with no official way out since she’s basically a gatecrasher of sorts.
It all comes full circle though with the sort of after-credits scene of sorts, where a very familiar face meets a relatively new face and another individual that could complicate things moving forward. Perhaps a new mission? Hmmm…
There isn’t a ton of lettering stuff for Nate Piekos to do in the silent chunk of the issue but once there is room for it, he comes out swinging. There is always power to the way that Piekos sets up various lettering bits as we can instantly feel the volume/tone of any bit of dialogue as the font shrinks or grows with lots of bolds or colors enhance the louder words and the bubbles take on a new life. It all makes sure that the lettering has every bit of the same energy and vividness as everything else in the book. I’ll never stop loving the way that Gert’s censored cursing is depicted with colors that are so different from any of the other fonts on the page.
Anytime a character in a comic book says a name or title and it is depicted as the logo for the series/character/place, that’s the stuff that I love. Comic books are awesome.
I Hate Fairyland #5 is now available from Image Comics.