The Adventure Time Winter Special 2014 is one of those books that is exactly what you knew it was when you picked it up. The surprises in this book, while pleasant, are few and far between. The book itself is four short stories, all about — wait for it — winter. In the first, (“Snow Hope”, written and illustrated by Luke Pearson) Jake and Finn get possessed jumpers that steal snow to make the world cozy, and it’s… a story? That happens? It’s got all the tropes that Adventure Time tends to lean on that risk it going stale. Jake does something vaguely stupid but well-intentioned, they piss off the Ice King, who turns out to not be SO bad, and then something else happens and it’s very ZAAAAAANY! Except it’s not really that zany and it’s also kind of boring. There’s an attempt at a twist ending, but still. A resounding “meh” from the universe.
The second story, “Pups in Peril” written and illustrated by Jeremy Sorese, is better, but not by a whole lot. I like Sorese’s art quite a bit. It’s got a character to it, and it feels like it’s been honed. It also sort of reminds me of Edward Gorey, which I am 1000% okay with. Where he struggles is the “sequential” aspect of “sequential art.” He has a decent script (BMO & Tree Trunks are the main characters, which, again — 1000% okay), and his art has promise, but the issue is basically one long chase scene that is impossible to follow. It’s set in an ice cave, and he uses the technique of the splash page with several distinct areas of action, which is all well and good, it just… fell a little flat. I’d love to see him do another issue that was set outside.
Third, there’s “A Sour Winter”, written and illustrated by T. Zysk, in which I came to terms with the fact that the only reason I hate The Earl of Lemongrab is that godforsaken voice. His dialogue and his predilection to hate literally everything in Ooo is something I find hilarious in print. Zysk’s art is clean, his writing is a children’s story with plenty of dirty jokes for adults, and it’s largely one man’s monologue about his pure hatred of winter. Think Krapp’s Last Tape, but instead of Beckett talking about the meaning of life through Krapp, its Zysk talking about how much he hates snow through an anthropomorphic lemon/failed genetic experiment.
Capping off the issue is “Eye Scream”, written by Janet Rose and Allison Strejlau, and illustrated by Strejlau. This one feels the closest to a good episode of Adventure Time. The gang is all together in an igloo, for some reason, having a picnic when they’re attacked by a monster made out of fried ice cream. It’s the “for some reason” part that makes all the best Adventure Time episodes for me (LSP is writing a book for some reason, everyone is going to a Halloween masquerade for some reason, &c.), so this one works the best for me as a story. I love Strejlau’s art on the Regular Show book, but here, it feels a little looser and a little tougher to track. I suppose I’m complaining about having to work hard, but this is America, and that’s just how I roll.
Overall, if Adventure Time is your thing, you’ll enjoy this book. It went quickly and I had fun reading it, but at the end of it, so what? It’s lightweight, and it says what it wants to right off the blocks. It’s like watching an ABC Family Christmas special; it’s very okay, if that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for, but you’re probably never going to feel the need to watch it again.
Writers: Various Artists: Various Publisher: KaBoom/Boom Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/29/14