Now, this was a book I was really looking forward to this week- it was such a strange idea for a book, and done by a creator who I really enjoy, so I knew I would be giving this book a shot. I was really not sure what to expect from this book, being the first issue of a creator owned series, you don’t always have to see a backstory heavy info dump right off the bat, and this book doesn’t really spend too much time explaining how things came to be (actually, it really only gives you the first five pages to introduce Gert and Queen Cloudia, AND to give us the whole “quest” Gert has to complete to get back home) then we jump into the current timeline, and we see Gert, twenty-seven years later, still in Fairyland AND still looking like the little girl who arrived in this place all those years ago, longing to go home.
This book is definitely not for children. I am sure that I am not alone in my enjoyment of the creative use of alternative words for Gert’s swearing- “muffin hugging” being my personal favorite. She seems to be a very, VERY violent young woman as well, causing death and destruction pretty well everywhere she goes. So this is most certainly not your average fairytale.
I did like the addition of secondary and tertiary characters into this first issue. Meeting Gert’s own version of Jiminy Cricket- Larrigon Wentsworth III, was a fun moment in that backstory scene, and their interactions while traveling to find the key that is Gert’s way home (seeing some of that choice language I mentioned before) and how Larrigon seems to be pretty unphased by her temper and attitude. I also like seeing, that like in any good fairy tale, we are given a narrator. But of course, this is no average fairytale- so with that in mind, Gert takes exception to her story’s narrator, and proceeds to murder him… and gruesomely.
I loved the sequence of panels where Gert has killed the moon/narrator, and the stars in the sky are potential witnesses to her deed, so she proceeds to shoot living bullets at them. The stars fall from the sky in droves, wounded or dead, and Gert moves on her way to the next place to try and find the key to getting home. At the same time, Queen Cloudine is enjoying the night sky filled with shooting stars, until she realizes the shooting stars are dying stars- and one dead star whops her straight in the face. So the bloodied and pretty aggravated queen finds out that Gert was behind the star killings, and decides to call in some classic Star Wars-style bounty hunter action to get rid of Gert once and for all. She talks to Bruud the Brutal, but we don’t see this Bruud character (not yet, anyway) and find out that Cloudine wants Gert dead, and Bruud seems eager enough to oblige her.
This next scene is where things go all sorts of wonky- Gert is captured by mushroom cops (think Toadstool from Mario meets Benny Hill cops) and is brought before the Slug Lord. But of course, he doesn’t just kill or imprison Gert… oh no! this is a fairytale after all, and things don’t work that way in fairytales. So Gert is given a riddle to solve, and boy is it a doozy… I really liked the look of the Slug Lord- he was basically if Tupac, Jabba the Hutt and Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors had a lovechild that really liked riddles. The “Slug Life” stomach tattoo was a beautiful touch, and the Flava-Flav-esque mushroom clock medallion really tied the whole thing together. But of course, Gert doesn’t play by fairytale rules, and she tries to put an end to Slug Lord in the same manner as Jabba, strangling him with his own chain. This sets off a series of events that are downright gross. Gert takes on a whole squad of mushroom cops- and EATS THEM. Like full on, no holds barred, cannibalizing people stuff. It was nicely capped off with a flying leap out a window, to where Larrigon is waiting for her with a flying pig (I know, right? When pigs fly!) and they are away from the Slug Lord’s domain.
The final scene on Ice Cream Island (sounds like the best place in all of fairyland if you ask me- though the guys that run the place are probably a real pair of Ben and Jerry’s- if you know what I mean…) sets up the Bruud/Gert conflict for this first arc, and judging from Gert’s actions throughout this issue, event though Bruud is a giant hulking barbarian-type, I don’t think he stands much chance against this thirty-something trapped in the body of a curly haired little girl…
Overall, this book was a ton of fun, and really was very engaging throughout- with plenty of story and lavish visuals to keep you turning pages. I think that this book should be a nice respite for readers looking to move beyond capes and cloaks stories, or just to try and cut their teeth on EITHER fantasy or humor comics. This is probably not the best book to start new (and especially not young) readers on, because it just doesn’t really feel like what most people would start reading.
But I do think that people will read and enjoy this book, because Skottie has a really well-developed comedic voice, and his art style is very unique and something I know is often sought after, especially if you’re talking about his Marvel variant covers…
Check this Muffin Huggin book out already!