Review: Adventure Time #1

By | February 9th, 2012
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Written by Ryan North
Illustrated by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb
Back-up by Aaron Renier

It’s ADVENTURE TIME! Join Finn the Human, Jake the Dog, and Princess Bubblegum for all-new adventures through The Land of Ooo. The top-rated Cartoon Network show now has its own comic book! With the show exploding in the ratings, garnering rave online reviews, major cosplay at the San Diego Comic-Con, and huge displays dominating the New York Comic Con, it’s clear fandom is obsessed and 2012 is the Year of Adventure Time! Don’t miss out on this new phenomenon–this first issue is sure to get snapped up!

What time is it? Review Time!, with Matt the Human (and Boots the Cat is lurking around somewhere as Matt writes).

Seriously, though. I love Cartoon Network’s all-ages program Adventure Time, and I have ever since I saw that rejected NickToons short on YouTube. It’s about time there was a comic with these characters.

Take a look after the cut for some thoughts on the first issue of a book everyone should want, let alone need. Oh my Glob! (Sorry. I can’t help myself.)

Adventure Time is somewhat of a modern marvel. It isn’t often that you come across something like it, yet Adventure Time — as a program on Cartoon Network primarily airing as a “kid’s show” — accomplishes every task fans and members of the industry clamor for in modern day comics: it’s something truly made for all-ages. Wether you’re around eight years old and glued to the screen after finishing your homework on Monday’s at 7:30 PM (EST) or you’re past the legal drinking age and living on your own as an “adult” looking for something to watch while unwinding from a long day at work, Adventure Time is a program that is universally enjoyable.

Now that experience has been brought to comics, with Dinosaur Comics‘ Ryan North writing and Boston-based duo Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb, all of whom are tasked with bringing Pendleton Ward’s characters to the pages. Luckily, Adventure Time the comic continues the tradition Adventure Time the show began, creating an infinitely accessible all-ages experience that ranks with the best the industry has to offer. It’s a comic created with fans of the series in mind, yet it remains an entirely open door for someone who has never traveled to the magical land of Ooo — and in the end, what more could you ask for?

So for those of you who haven’t seen the show or the episode(s) “Mortal Folly” and/or “Mortal Recoil”, here is basically everything you need to know: Finn is a human, Jake is a dog, and together they have adventures in the post-apocalyptic wasteland (seriously) known as the Magical Kingdom of Ooo. The evil Lich (played by none other than star of stage and screen Ron Perlman) is a real patoot, and is essentially the Big Bad of the show — at the very least, he’s the greatest evil Finn and Jake have ever come across, all of the Ice King’s princess kidnapping shenanigans aside. After being defeated in the Season Two finale, his consciousness was transfered into a snail, a character who has since been lurking in the background (hidden in almost every episode), and now the snail has managed to exorcise the demonic creature from his body. This, of course, spells doom for the inhabitants of Ooo, and Finn and Jake have to once again step up to the challenge of defeating Ron Perlman the Lich.

There is no better way to put this: the comic is the show. Combining characters and a program I love in a medium I adore, the book is absolutely in sync with the machinations that make the show so effortlessly affable and infinitely delightful. While property-based comics are very hit or miss, Adventure Time is a home run, a touch down, a goal, a strike, a slam dunk and a myriad of other sports-based references that I can’t think of/don’t know of. If ever there was a comic that could give you a high five from reading it, Adventure Time would be that comic.

Continued below

North is an excellent pick as author of the series. Fans of his webcomic are certainly used to his rather sleek and clever sense of humor, and it makes for a pitch perfect accessory to the show. North’s voice rings true in Finn and Jake yet it also keeps their dynamic true to form, and North’s open recognition of Finn and Jake’s friendship is a nice touch. Even the return of the Lich is a great and unexpected turn of events, and you can practically hear Ron Perlman cackling from the pages of the book. Throwing in some great beneath-the-surface gags (the quick Dungeons and Dragons reference and alt-text at the bottom of certain pages is great) and building on the qualities that keep the show’s fantasy mythos vibrant (Desert Princess! — not to be confused with Dessert Princess, of course), North absolutely nails Adventure Time in every conceivable way.

The real beauty, however, lies in the collaboration between North and the artists, Paroline and Lamb. While Paroline and Lamb certainly bring the show’s iconic characters and imagery to life in the exact style of the show, it’s the little details that really bring the book to life: the post-apocalyptic nods (Finn and Jake looking into a canyon with buried rail stations and buildings), the facial gags and expressions (“I love Jake Suit, dude.”), the background jokes (the Ice King’s fan fiction is a nice touch) and the hilarious tribute to the opening sequence of the book on the first page. A more perfect adaptation of a program you could not find, as the book emanates Ward’s vision from every corner.

Add to that Aaron Renier’s “My Cider the Mountain”, and you’ve got quite a fun bundle of both a story that is the show accompanied with one that pays tribute to the show’s ideals. Adventure Time has a thriving and pro-active fanbase, all taking their stabs at participating in the vast and inviting universe of the show, and by including Renier’s piece in the book it brings the discussion about the series and its qualities to an entirely different level. Not only is this book here to continue the ever expanding and limitless reality of the show, but it is truly an opportunity for fans to expand on the stories of characters they love, similar to what Marvel has done with books like Strange Tales. With Tree Trunks and Cinnamon Bun getting a chance at the spotlight in a quaintly illustrated seven-page short, Renier continues the grand tradition of the show in both it’s trademark sense of humor and his own. While it deviates from the visual style of the show that Paroline and Lamb imitate so well, it’s ultimately that deviation that  makes the entire comic package so wonderful: Adventure Time – By Fans, For Fans (and everyone else too, really).

I’ve read Adventure Time #1 four times now (twice while discussing it with one of the artists of the book, Braden Lamb, at a local comic creator meet-up, once with an advance from BOOM!, and once after purchasing it), and as a fan of the series and a fan of comics I can find nothing wrong. Fans of the show won’t be disappointed, and I can’t imagine that folks curious enough to travel to Ooo will find the experience uninviting either.

Well done by all.

Final Verdict: 10.0 – MATHEMATICAL

Matthew Meylikhov

Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."