REVIEW: Adventure Time #7

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What time is it? IT’S TIME FOR MAJOR SPOILERS TO REVIEW A COMIC BOOK! And that comic book just happens to be Adventure Time #7, written by the creator of the Dinosaur Comics webcomic, Ryan North!

ADVENTURE TIME #7
Writer: Ryan North
Artists: Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb
Letterer: Steve Wands
Backup Story 1: Shannon Wheeler
Backup Story 2: Zac Gorman
Editor: Shannon Watters
Publisher: BOOM! Studios (kaboom! imprint)
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Adventure Time: Finn and Jake are two best friends who live in the land of Ooo. So far in this series, a spin-off of the hit TV show, they’ve battled a Lich to save the entire Earth. In the last issue Princess Bubblegum made a time machine, Jake abused the powers of that time machine, and Peebles ended up destroying it. At the end of the issue we see Jake steal the broken time machine, which leads directly into this issue!

WHAT TIME IS IT?

Now, before Adventure Time #7 my only experience with the franchise was watching two or three episodes during a marathon on Cartoon Network one day, and hearing lots of people in my twitter feed rave about the show. I wasn’t overly impressed with the cartoon–though it certainly did have a unique charm to it–and wasn’t really sure what I would think of the comic, though I had a lot of confidence in Ryan North’s ability to write hilarious stories, given the fact that he is the creator of the webcomic “Dinosaur Comics.” One of the primary reasons I picked up issue 7 was the solicit, which mentioned “The totally mathematical adventure continues in this latest time-bending issue of ADVENTURE TIME!” Now, being both a physics major and a student of actuarial science, I like math. I also like comics that deal with math in a creative way, as I discussed in my podcast review of Finding Gossamyr #1. Unfortunately (as every single hardcore fan of Adventure Time is yelling at their monitor right now) I didn’t realize that “mathematical” is an exclamation of excitement and/or delight that Finn frequently makes, rather than actually meaning the issue involved math. That was okay though, since it DID involve time travel, something I’m also very fond of.

IT’S TIME TRAVEL TIME!

The story in this issue caught me off guard in how well it was crafted, especially given my perception of the bizarre nature of Adventure Time. Not being overly familiar with it, I more expected a series of non sequiturs than a nicely layered story about time-travel. There are constant verbal and visual jokes, and I found myself laughing on every page, and while not all serve to drive the plot directly forward, none of them detract from the story being told. While the main story was wonderful, I was even more delighted by the first backup story, written and drawn by Shannon Wheeler, creator of Too Much Coffee Man. This four page backup feature explains several of the possible dangers of time travel, each one presenting a different perspective of how time could work. Think about that for a minute. This is a franchise that markets itself as truly all-ages; I’ve known fans ranging from 4 to 40 (and beyond). For most children reading this, these four panels could be their first introduction to the hazards of time travel, and Wheeler presents the discussion in an easily understandable fashion that doesn’t talk down to kids. For the adults, Wheeler throws in little references in the bottom text of each page, giving “apologies” to a science fiction author whose work has incorporated that interpretation of time and time travel. When I read “Apologies to Kurt Vonnegut” at the end of the first page I laughed out loud, pleasantly surprised at how intelligent this book was.

Speaking of the bottom text, therein lies my number one problem with this title. (I can safely say title as a whole, because after reading this issue I went back and read all the previous issues published through BOOM! Studios, and I can confidently recommend all of them). At the end of most pages, Ryan North puts in a little aside or reference to something that happened on panel. These are all on a white background with a light blue, fairly thin text and are REALLY hard to read. They’re almost all hysterical, but I had to strain my eyes to see what they actually said.

IT’S ALSO ART-VENTURE TIME!

Having not watched much of the show, I don’t have a whole lot to say about the art on this book. It seems to be fairly consistent with the episodes I’ve seen, though with a bit less emphasis on butts (which is not a bad thing). The hat-shape of Finn’s pillow on the first page made me smile, and I really liked the variant cover by Franco of Tiny Titans and Superman Family Adventures fame. The art on the two backup stories is fine as well–it isn’t in exactly the same style as the main story, but it’s close enough that you simultaneously knew it was part of the same general universe while being a separate story, which is exactly what you’re looking for.

BOTTOM LINE: WHY WASN’T I READING THIS ALREADY?

This title is hilarious. It’s sort of the same chaotic and youthful storytelling as Axe Cop, but with more depth and significance of plot. I hadn’t read anything from Ryan North other than Dinosaur Comics, and so wasn’t entirely certain he could do 16 pages of connected story a month, but he excels on this book. I don’t know if he plans to write any other print comics besides Adventure Time, but I could definitely see a major publisher picking him up in the future. Despite having very little knowledge of Adventure Time going in to reading this issue, I would absolutely consider myself a fan of the franchise now, and once I go through and watch all the episodes of Ninja Warrior I currently have filling up my DVR I’m going to be putting Adventure Time in the schedule! In terms of a rating, this issue loses half a star for making me squint when reading the bottom text, but that still means it gets a phenomenal four and a half out of five stars!

Rating: ★★★★½