Hanna K's art is a welcome mix of adorable and effective, but the story leans heavily on prior knowledge of the Adventure Time mythos without having much substance of its own. Look, it's condescending for me to come out of the gate and say, "oh, well, you know, this is a children's book so the story doesn't have to be super sophisticated" or something like that. For one thing, the pacing of this story and the way it calls upon Marceline's back story is plenty sophisticated, and exactly what I would expect from a well-constructed episode of this show. But since this comic costs five bucks and is a self-contained one-shot story, I want to be clear about how engaging I personally found this one-shot story to be.
Despite the fact that it had many of the charms many others and I love about Adventure Time, the story moved too slow for me. Given that we know quite a bit about Marceline's past and how jacked up it is, this comic feels like a small, mostly uneventful episode of that back story that hinges on a few dramatic interactions. I think Marceline's heated conversations with the young, concerned human are the high point of the story in this issue, as is her final moment of triumph. I suppose one of my biggest problems is despite some charming idiosyncrasies, nothing about this feels like a special annual "Spoooktacular": it just feels like one short and sweet story that happens to have vampires in it.
All of that said, I think if you really like this series, or want a lesson in how to translate an animated series onto the comics page as simply and effectively as possible, this comic is worth flipping through. One of my most frequent rants occurs in reviews of comic book adaptations of cartoons, where I either flip out or praise how the comic book artist managed (or failed) to offer a novel visual interpretation of the source material while making that interpretation work on the comic book page.
Hanna K's experience as a storyboard artist for the show itself comes through in the best possible way, with salient story moments being presented at a fun, brisk pace, that still make for interesting reading due to thoughtful page layouts. A big challenge when putting comics like this together is in making sure your comic doesn't just read like a storyboard, and though I think that should be a low bar to jump over rather than an achievement, the quality of the storytelling in this comic is worthy of praise.
It's possible that my problem is half with the overall story pace (~30 pages that are repetitive in some ways and limited to a one-shot) and half with the billing this story received, since it lacked the gravitas of a one-off story, or the visual/story themes of a halloween story beyond the mere presence of vampires. Still, if you really like Adventure Time, I don't see any reason to avoid the title, necessarily.
Review: Adventure Time Spoooktacular #1 2015 Writer: Hanna K. Artist: Hanna K. Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $4.99 Release Date: 10/28/15 Format: One-Shot; Print/Digital