Adventure Time has started to get super heavy, y’all.
Marceline has been shot into space by Princess Bubblegum to protect all of the Candy Kingdom. The Princess’s subjects have all gone into abject mourning, which seems to be primarily based on the purchasing of memorial swag of the Vampire Queen (and possibly my favorite line in any Adventure Time-related media: “I CAN FEEL ONLY THROUGH SWAG!”). Meanwhile, Finn awakes in Marceline’s house with a faulty memory of the last words he said to her, and the same repelling problem Marcy had before her unfortunate trip to space. Interspersed throughout the story are some vignettes from Marcy and Bubblegum’s past, which the Marceline/Bubblegum shippers (Bubbline?) should get their jollies out of.
This comic is a lot of the things that I love about the Adventure Time franchise. There are ornamental aspects, like skewering the hipster culture that has made the property so successful (if Suspencer isn’t some sort of allusion to the Hipster capitalizing on nostalgia, I don’t know what we’re all doing here), baby Peppermint Butler, Cinnamon Bun being confused as to what exactly is money; but in the middle of it all is the beating, sad, wistful heart of every great Adventure Time story. The emotional core of this story is about what happens when our friends are gone, and when we miss the times we had with them. Was it our fault? Did they do something that they didn’t understand, that we had to push them away for a bit? Adventure Time consistently manages to find that sweet spot of specific stories that hit a universality for everyone who’s grown up, and who remembers what a fraught journey that was; in PB and Marcy, we get people who have grown up and miss the adventures, and in Finn, we get a brave hero who can avoid most of the pitfalls we all fell into.
Meredith Gran has proved herself adept at not only crafting well-realized versions of these characters and this universe, but she’s also able to walk the fine line between hilarious shenanigans and emotional content without veering over into an empty story with nothing to say about the inner life of the residents of Ooo or, pivoting the opposite direction, to a schmaltzy story that berates the readers with the theme. As anyone who’s ever interacted with a child for more than an hour can tell you, the only way to get kids to learn anything on a moral level is to sneak it past them--they’re devious, and they will defeat you. Aesop knew it; the Brothers Grimm knew it; now you know it.
Carey Pietsch’s art does a good job of existing within the Adventure Time universe without breaking its rules, but while also allowing them to bring a personal flavor to it. Most of the established characters (Peppermint Butler, Cinnamon Bun, Finn, Jake, etc) have a “look” that is tough to mess with, but the newer characters, like Suspencer, have an air about them that they belong there. It’s not quite the way Allison Strejlau illustrates Regular Show, where she animates more of the manic energy of the show than exact replicas of the characters, but it is similar--this book brings some of the absurdist flavor of the show out, as well as the aforementioned heartbreak.
I love this book. I can’t say enough good things about it, and I’m going to be sad when it ends, but it’s been a soothing balm after the burn of North and Paroline leaving the main title.
Writer: Meredith Gran Artist: Carey Pietsch Publisher: BOOM!/KaBOOM! Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/11/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital