If there’s one thing I can say about Adventure Time #1 from BOOM!, it’s that this is the most frickin’ adorable comic I’ve read all month, and maybe all year. Seriously, I do have several other things to say about it… But holy cow, I just had a goofy smile on my face the whole time because of how durn cute it was.
That bit of terrible criticism out of the way, how does the book hold up to the legacy of the TV series that’s proved to be a massive crossover hit for both adults and kids? Perfectly, is the answer to that question. I’ll cop to having only seen a handful of episodes of Adventure Time, but even if you’ve never seen it before, the issue is so packed with jokes, including one of the best character introduction pages I’ve ever read, that it won’t matter whether you’re a new fan, or an old one.
One of the biggest questions I had going into this issue was the pacing. Comedy is hard to do in comics on the best of days, but the slow, “Adult Swim… But for kids!” humor of the show is hard to replicate in comic book form. I’m happy to say that the team has nailed it. A panel showing a villain pausing and reacting to a barb from Human Being and Adventurer Finn is perfectly timed and paced, just how it would be on the cartoon. And the jokes in general – Finn and his stretchy dog pal Jake are constantly trying to figure out really good “Bad Guy Slam-Down Lines” – err on the side of weird or going on for far too long… Just like on the show.
Credit where it’s due: writer Ryan North has completely embraced the ethos of the show, from the ridiculous settings, to wordplay, to actual fantasy settings and high stakes. Here, an old enemy returns, and the fate of the world really does seem at stake here. That’s a tricky balance to do, and really only something like Ghostbusters has successfully done this before. Now there’s also Adventure Time #1.
Also pitch perfect is the art by Shelli Paroline & Brendan Lamb, which comes directly from the TV show, but also creates exciting fun visuals of its own as we discussed with Lamb last month. They clearly put a ton of care into this, from a cross-section of land ripped open by the main villain, to Finn’s face when he dons a very unique battle suit. Oh, and I should also mention Steve Wands, whose lettering is darn near brilliant. The use of font sizes here (I know, we’re getting very wonky, but whatever) is as integral in selling some of the jokes as the words and the visuals.
There’s also a delightful back-up story from Aaron Renier, which has one of the grosser endings to a story involving sentient baked goods I’ve ever read. The nice thing about this – and I believe it will continue in future issues – is that the back-up focuses on other aspects and characters of the Land of Ooo, without focusing exclusively on Finn and Jake. That’s something you just can’t get in the same way on the show, and again, should be an exciting enticement for fans new and old to pick up the book.
Point being: it’s very easy to do this sort of thing as a cash-in book. Adventure Time #1 is far from it… This is an exciting new comic book that fans of every age should be picking up. BOOM! has clearly put a tremendous amount of time and care into it, and if the subsequent issues are as good, we may be looking at a new All-Ages classic. Get in on the ground floor.