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Vox's comic book of the week: the smart, gruesome I Hate Fairyland

I Hate Fairyland.
I Hate Fairyland.
Image/Skottie Young
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Skottie Young's I Hate Fairyland is one of the sickest, twisted, and most subversive comic books I've ever read. When I turned the last page, I was offended, grossed out, and shocked — but all I wanted in life was the next issue in my hands.

Young, whose work boosted the inexplicably underloved New X-Men and the more acclaimed Rocket Raccoon, has one of the most surprising and enjoyable comics this year in I Hate Fairyland. It's a tale of a disturbed and ultra-violent 40-year-old named Gertrude who's trapped in her preteen body and stuck in Fairyland — a world that's part Super Mario, part fairytale, part Oz, and part every one of your favorite children's books.

What Young does brilliantly is fold crazy megatons of violence into the comic's dazzling, candy-coated art. Gertrude shooting a cannonball right into Moon, the High Teller in the Sacred Guild of Narrators, and her creation of "shooting stars" is a highlight of an issue:

(Image Comics)

All this violence could easily go overboard — the humor in watching cute things kill other cute things with bloody violence is brilliant, but it's one-note. Young's challenge is to tell a story that has some sense of humanity, and have that outweigh the wreckage and body count that Gertrude leaves in her wake. Young meets this by beautifully developing the idea of Gertrude wanting to get home.

Underneath all the sarcasm and the violence, you have a kid who just wants to get home. I'm not entirely sure what Gertrude will find if and when she gets there, but it's got to be better than the place she is now. I Hate Fairyland is also a tale of growing up, and realizing the stuff you wanted as a kid, or a teen, or five years ago doesn't make you happy.

There's a joy you can feel in the art and on the pages of I Hate Fairyland. You get the sense that Young is running wild and free with this book, going someplace that's equally touching and deranged. I can't wait to read more.

I Hate Fairyland

Story: Skottie Young

Art: Skottie Young/Jean-Francois Beaulieu (cover)

Colors: Jean-Francois Beaulieu

Letters: Nate Piekos

Publisher: Image Comics

Release date: October 14, 2015

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