Once upon a time, there was a man, not so different from you or I, who said the cartoon series Adventure Time would make a great comic book. He said it would not even have to follow the single stand-alone episode format that the show does and it could still be successful. It was not long before just such a comic came to be and the people rejoiced. Then that man missed the first issue and felt like an idiot. But then, one day, my friends, that man got his hands on a copy of Adventure Time #2 and that is the story of how this review was born.
Here is the short version of the review: Like Adventure Time? Good. Buy this book. Be happy. Enjoy the many wonders life has to offer.
I would offer alternate advice for those who do not like the series, but I honestly can’t think of a reason worth wasting my time like that.
Long version: You guys. Oh my goodness, you guys. I dig this book so hard and, if you have any appreciation for fun and silliness and an oddly prolific use of the color purple, then you probably will too. When I originally talked about making a comic based on the show, I said that it would not even have to focus on the main cast of characters. There is no reason this could not be done in a future comic, but this one does focus on the characters fans know from the show and I am perfectly okay with that.
One of the remarkable things about Adventure Time is that it is a cartoon that uses the eleven to twelve minute episode format, but it also has an extremely involved world and mythology. It is impressive how much context the show’s production team is able to work into these short episodes that need to tell a specific stand-alone story and how well that continuity is kept going from episode to episode. What I found fantastic about this comic is that it is not following the same episodic format. The story you read in issue two is a continuation of issue one and the story will proceed further in issue three. Even more interestingly is that it is legitimately furthering the mythology of the series by writing the story to revolve around the mysterious Lych King that appeared as a fearsome and ancient enemy on the show.
As the book starts, the Lych King is using a magic bag to suck up the Land of Ooo and keep it contained inside, at which point he will conceivably do something more insidious. Our heroes, Jake the dog and Finn the human, are already inside and searching for a way out. Along the way they meet up with the “mysterious” Desert Princess and their groupie and nemesis/groupie, respectively, Lumpy Space Princess and Ice King. A few pages also show the progress of Marceline, the vampire queen, and Princess Bubblegum as they make their own progress through the bag world. Honestly, the plot, as it stands in this book, is just the vehicle for the humor. Maybe there are going to be some epic plot revelations coming up, but the most progress made here is getting all these characters together. Mostly so they can play off one another for laughs. I am super okay with this, but I can understand how others may be looking for more. My advice: Cut it out and start laughing.
Of course, there is more to this book than just the main story. There are a couple more mini comics in the last few pages of the book, as well. They are both charming in their own way and they both feature fan favorite character Marceline, so that certainly can’t hurt either. The second comic of the two, written and illustrated by Zac Gorman stood out especially to me. It only takes up a page and is just a few lines referring to events that we did not see, but the different art style and the depiction of this quiet, almost normal moment between Marceline and Bubblegum makes it really compelling to me. What surprised me the most though, and what I did not even notice at first, is that each page of the main comic has an extra at the bottom. On a few pages there are a few tiny panels all the way at the bottom that offer an extra joke or feature one of the characters appealing to the reader. The rest of the time there is a sort of commentary on the events of the page. They are in a light green color on top of white, which makes them extremely unobtrusive to the point of being almost unnoticeable. If you have to strain to read them, do it. The importance of this comic being written by Ryan North, the genius behind webcomic sensation Dinosaur Comics, cannot be overstated. Both the mini comics and commentary are very funny and give me that indie comic impression that I was hoping for, based on the history of the production staff.
The art style of the main comic echoes the television show perfectly, adding to the sense of cohesion between the two mediums. There are no absolutely stupendous effects on display, but the way panels are set up lends themselves toward the same comedic timing of the show. I would actually like to see the panels take on shapes beside the standard rectangle, but that is really more of a stylistic preference. Both the secondary comics have different artists, both of which work well within the context of their own stories. One has a distinctly Sunday comic strip vibe and the other with a far more indie feel, down to the hand drawn borders. I love all three for different reasons, but, as I mentioned earlier, Zac Gorman’s work really stands out to me.
Obviously, I am really fond of this comic and I hope you will be too. I feel like we have a real connection here and I don’t want an argument like this to divide us. In the end though, it comes down to the same issue of most adaptations. If you are an Adventure Time fan, then it is difficult for me to imagine you not enjoying this book. However, if the show is just not your thing, then this comic probably will not change your mind. There are definite problems in terms of how the story is paced, but this is not like so many other comics that have nothing to benefit readers while they are transitioning between plot points. Here, you have laughs and plenty of them. For some comic fans that may not be enough, but it is certainly a great deal for me.