In an attempt to save her best friend, the demon Bloato, Bethany has descended to Hell along with Bloato’s daughters. If that sounds like a bad idea to you, it’s because it is a bad idea. It’s horrible idea that’s sure to backfire. By plunging into a land of lies, Bethany is leaving herself wide open to being sucked into the world and being trapped in Hell forever.
This issue starts with a spooky daydream where Bethany is being tortured by the devil in an especially frightening way: she’s trapped in a house with all the outward appearance of a perfect 1950s suburban home but the inside is a literal house of horrors. The scene is spooky not just because of what is done to Bethany in it, but also because it seems so out of character for her to be in such a place. It so opposes Bethany’s independent and brash personality to be subservient to any creature that it really feels like her own personal hell.
From there the issue explores different areas of Hell. Since Hell is a land of lies, there are long sequences involving Bethany trying to figure out just what the hell is going on (pun intended). As she progresses through Hell, Bethany is continually tested, and often as not, she fails.
This is a bit of a hard issue to review because there’s a feeling throughout of the ground shifting under a reader’s feet. As Bethany progresses through a land of lies, so does the shifting circumstances cause us to feel like things are complex, always changing, and bizarre. Those are all terms that fit the setting of Hell well, so it really fits this comic well.
Nick Stakal’s artwork is dark and mysterious, with a kind of inky complexity that intensifies the horror of the setting. His art seems infused with blacks, and Michelle Madson’s coloring emphasizes dark colors as a way of emphasizing the horror of the setting.
This is not a jumping on point for new readers, but longtime readers of Strange Girl will find a lot to chew on with this issue.