Review: Adventure Time – 2013 Spooktacular (One-Shot)

I love Halloween Specials. It's my favorite holiday, but since I don't drink, don't have kids, and there hasn't been a good horror movie in theaters since 1997 there aren't too many outlets to celebrate the spooky season other than seeing my favorite things tweaked with a bit of macabre creativity. 'Adventure Time' would seem to be the perfect children's media to have a Halloween Special, seeing as the show already has a pretty sneakily dark sense of humor, but this year's All Hallow's Eve comic is disappointingly lacking. The book consists of four stories, each written and illustrated by different people, anthology style. 'Costume Party' has the Ice King once again not invited to a Jake and Finn party, 'Secret Stache' shows the bare-lipped nightmare of Starchy the Gravedigger, 'Halloween Horticulture' introduces Pumpkin Princess, and 'Bad Girl Gone Good' has Marceline wrestling with the backfiring of her latest hipstery Aubrey Plazaesque prank.

kaboom_at_spoooktacular_001v1_a'Costume Party' is an old set up, one that's actually been done a couple of times on the show, but this time given a saccharine ending that feels extremely out of place for 'Adventure Time's world of confounded moral expectation and cheeky dickishness. 'Secret Stash' is more appropriately nightmarish, with a bizarre and impressively unsettling art style by Frazer Irving, but ends up being more like a drug-trip 'Outer Limits' episode then feeling distinctly Halloween. 'Halloween Horticulture' is the closest to the tone of the show, with weirdness and amusingly grim overtones, but again sort of shortchanges it's creepy ideas for a bland happy ending. 'Bad Girl Gone Good' was a decently cute idea, but doesn't contain any surprises and is illustrated in a style that seems a bit below professional. I've always appreciated the Kaboom! Book line's fondness for indie cartoonist style artwork, giving a wide range of artists to explore their licenses in unconventional ways, but the style on the final story was pushing the hand-made convention book style a bit too far.

It's cool to see a mixed bag of styles and stories, but for the most part the book was kind of tedious and felt more like a publishing afterthought than creative fun. For a book set in a fantasy world where anything can happen, no story took it any place interesting, and I ended up more engaged by the short preview comic in the back promoting the upcoming Osamu Tezuka inspired toon 'Steven Universe'. There's plenty of great Halloween content out there this year, but this round the 'Adventure Time' comic fell a little short.

Score: 2/5

Writers: Jones Wiedle, Bryce Carlson, Jay Hosler, Kevin Church Artists: Jones Wiedle, Frazer Irving, Jay Hosler, Jen Vaughn Publisher: Boom and KaBoom Price: $4.99 Release Date: 10/30/13