Adventure Time genderswapped! One of the most popular episodes of Adventure Time makes its way into the comic world under the pen of the creator of the concept, Natasha Allegri. Lets see how she did.
Written and Illustrated by Natasha Allegri
Join Cake the Cat and Fionna the Human in this totally algebraic new adventure, written and drawn by FIONNA AND CAKE creator and ADVENTURE TIME storyboard artist Natasha Allegri! When Fionna rescues a feral flame boy from a pack of wild fire lions, it starts her on a quest she’ll never forget… Don’t miss out on this sure-to-be INSANELY popular new ADVENTURE TIME mini-series!
So far, the adaptations of Pendleton Ward’s beloved cartoons have been very hit or miss. “Adventure Time” itself? Definite hit. The Marceline spin-off? Entertaining, but less of a smash success adaptation of the source material. “Bravest Warriors?” Definite miss. It would appear that not everyone can hit that “sweet spot” of what makes the characters and their respective shows so endearing, capturing that middle between too crazy to work and just crazy enough to succeed. Suffice it to say, “Fionna and Cake” has an uphill battle ahead of it, with a clear precedent already set for what fans should expect from books in this particular series.
But apparently here comes Natasha Allegri to save the day where others didn’t quite make the cut. Allegri is the one who originally designed Fionna and Cake as Rule 63 counterparts to the heroes of the original cartoon, so having her produce a book with their continued adventures makes the greatest sense in the world. Here is someone who ostensibly “gets” every aspect of the characters to the extent you can freely say she created them (as much as one can create such extreme derivatives) expanding on their existence, and considering how little time we’ve ultimately gotten to spend with them its nice to finally have definitive versions of the characters that don’t just seem up to the whims of which fan is writing what fiction. It becomes an especially more enticing idea when you consider just how far Adventure Time has come as a cartoon in terms of its multiverse-hopping, inception-laced mayhem chock full of adult themes, potentially dead parents and nuclear disasters on dead worlds.
The only odd thing about the title really is how different the idea of Adventure Time is handled when using other versions of the character. From the opening sequence telling a fairy tale of sorts all the way to the end, everything is slightly off and noticeably less sunny. Where Finn radiates confidence, Fionna is more timid; where Jake is cool, Cake is a bit more crazy. The variations continue throughout in a way that it becomes noticeable that this isn’t just “Adventure Time” with different sexes, but a completely different world where the characters all developed slightly different personalities. That aspect is somewhat off-putting at first admittedly, even for those who have seen the original “Fionna and Cake” episode, because while you could safely assume things wouldn’t be the same (nor should they), the degree of which things have changed is rather striking.
Yet, those differences becoming endearing in their own way. Truth be told, a comic or cartoon that just flat out switched genders would be a tad bit boring, and that’s not what “Fionna and Cake” does. Yes, everything is swapped, but the resulting changes delivers something that – once you get past the initial disconcerting nature of it all – stands tall as something else. The problem “Bravest Warriors” (the book, not the show) had is that it wanted to be “Adventure Time” (both the book and the show) without actually defining itself, and the problem with “Marceline” was that it wanted to run ancillary to the main series without defining itself either. Everything stands in the shadow of “Adventure Time,” but “Fionna and Cake” steps sideways out of that shadow and begins to cast its own. It’s similar and different, and as strange as those differences are upon a first read, repeated reads of the material begin to show why that helps “Fionna and Cake” more than deters it.
All of this makes the final product rather grand. Fionna is a very likable heroine, which is essentially the lynch pin of the entire book since, really, your appreciation of Cake matters considerably less. With Fionna we have a great character that can be given to young girls as both a role model and a replacement of the idea that girls should always be princesses (which Adventure Time proper is somewhat guilty of, even if their female characters are still rather strong and have proven to be independent of implied roles in royalty). Fionna now stands tall as a smart, compassionate and caring heroine who isn’t afraid to fight for those less fortunate than her, and this makes for a great lead in an all ages comic marketplace dominated by a particular brand of book. With the brand that Adventure Time is at this point, delivering a female character that is as strong as Finn is just the absolute best.
Granted, the same can’t exactly be said for Cake. Just like anyone who owns a cat can understand, Cake is a bit chaotic in the middle of it all, not essentially operating as the best friend like Jake does and seemingly not being that big of a help either. It’s clear that Fionna and Cake have a solid relationship between them, but Cake just comes off as much less likable than her male counterpart, if only because she doesn’t appear to have a solid base point to her craziness – she’s just kind of too eccentric.
So it’s without any reservation that I say that Natasha Allegri’s “Fionna and Cake” comic is the spin-off we’ve been waiting for. The work in the book obviously matches the basic tone and art style of Adventure Time, but Allegri plays a bit more with what a comic can hold, delivering a rather sweet and sincere final product. For a first major outing in comic form such as this beyond goofy webcomics about her cat Pancake, it’s clear that Allegri has a strong understanding of the medium and the capabilities it has, especially when you push it just a bit to deliver something different. It’s nice to see Allegri not relying on any of the tricks or notions set by the past titles related to Adventure Time, and from the first page where we open with a lush illustration of a woman made of fire we’re not only given a new tone for the comics but a new precedent – and that’s the best way to go when establishing a book beyond its origin.
It’s an entertaining little book, not quite reaching the ecstatic highs of “Adventure Time” but not missing a bit of magic like “Marceline.” Fionna and Cake are amusing as concepts and this is a great opportunity for the Adventure Time world to truly expand; having Allegri flesh out this iteration of their world a bit more in a way that perhaps the show doesn’t really allow for is a fantastic move. And while the duo may not be as easy to understand as Finn and Jake, their adventure is still definitely worth your time.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – Buy
I’m so sorry for that last joke.