First Impressions – ADVENTURE TIME #1

FINALLY! I’ve been trying to get a copy of this book for over a month, and at long last it’s here. And I couldn’t be happier.

One of the things I tend to keep an ear to the ground for is good comics for all ages. I don’t need to go out of my way to show that most comics don’t fall in the category of being books I’d allow my hypothetical future children read. The current run of adjectiveless Batman by Scott Snyder is a joy to behold, and I can’t recommend it enough. But all the same, it’s not a book I’d let children read, because it contains a lot of more mature themes and elements, in addition to just being a semi dark book. In fact, among the ongoing series I follow, I struggle to pick one that I’d let a child read.

In fact, there’s only one book in the newest Weekly Pull that I’d allow a child to read. And it’s the second issue of the series I’m looking at now. More on that later.

The comic book industry tends to not give as much attention to all ages books as they really ought to. Which is a shame, because while I enjoy the books for grown ups I read all the time, I’m not going to be around forever. And I’m a relative newcomer to this medium. The biggest audience for comics is aging, and in order for this industry to thrive, we need younger readers. So every time I find a really good all ages book, I see it as a positive step forward. Plus, it means I’ve got books I can break out if/when I have those hypothetical future kids and not be worried about what I’m exposing them to.

In comes another thing I look out for: good cartoons. To keep things simple, I think we’ve had a famine of really excellent animated children’s shows. So being able to find a gem is always a plus, because I loved cartoons as a child and want to see our kids getting quality stuff. This is also important in that cartoons can segue well into comics. And until/unless they make a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic, I’ll go with the next best thing. Or at least the boy-targetted counterpart to the ponies.

Adventure Time began as an animated short by Pendleton Ward. It quickly gained popularity, and became its own series on Cartoon Network. And it’s awesome! I don’t have or make enough time to watch television anymore, but one of the things that get me watching (in addition to old episodes of Batman Beyond) is Adventure Time with Finn & Jake. It’s about a human boy adventurer named Finn and his magical dog companion Jake, and their wonderful and inventive exploits in the land of Ooo.

Frankly any description of what makes the show entertaining and enthralling made by me seems tame in the grand scheme of things. It masters creating situations that would be any geek’s most off the wall fantasy, and combines it with a flawless sense of timing and delivery. I can’t stress enough how you should all be watching this show. Go on YouTube and watch the short clips Cartoon Network has on its channel. It’s amazing.

If it seems like I’m bursting with enthusiasm bordering on the disturbing, then you understand why I wanted to buy this book as soon as I learned that Boom comics was releasing a comic series adapted from the show. Which also made it all the more infuriating that I could never find a copy until this week, when they released the first reprint. And even then, I only managed to get the last copy (though I can’t be certain of how many copies they issue each time).

So after all my exposition and fanboy gushing, do I think ADVENTURE TIME #1 lives up to my expectations? Because the one thing I feared (besides never getting my hands on the first issue) was that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations built over a month of impatient waiting. In a word, no. But on the one hand, it wouldn’t have been able. It’s still a great first issue and I loved pretty much every second of it. And while the first issue isn’t quite up to an individual episode of the show, it’s not the fault of writers and artists.

The comedic timing to the show is fantastic, so the transfer to the static panels of the printed medium takes some getting used to. Also, a lot of charm in the show comes from its excellent voice work. I’d love to have an audio track from the voice actors, voicing the dialogue from this. Otherwise, I can’t fault the book for the shift in medium. Lastly, while the show is episodic in nature, we have a multipart story here, with the main plot continuing for at least a couple more issues. This is not bad, but it does mean the writers need to keep the train moving, and setting things up requires a little focus when the show would have reveled in whatever setting and story hitch it had for a single episode. I think with the set up out of the way, we’ll see more A material.

And this issue is by no means unfunny. It’s hilarious when it can be, and amazing to boot. Let’s just say Finn jumps into a muscle suit made out of his magical dog, and then proceeds to punch a Lich’s head off. I couldn’t make this up if I tried, and man do I wish I could. Context? Here’s your context: this comic is awesome!

This is also a four dollar book, so in addition to the main plot, there’s a side story. Personally, I’m not too thrilled with the one they chose for issue one, but this format does allow for other scenarios, which also come from other writers and artists. And while I found the side story to be just okay, I did love the art by Aaron Renier to be very good and different from the regular story’s art style.

So to wrap things up, I want everyone to be reading this book. But assuming not everyone cares about this, fans of Adventure Time are required to read this comic. This isn’t one of those crummy tie-in products companies often shoot out with little effort to profit off the brand name. I can tell that genuine effort and love went into this book, and that kind of thing should be encouraged.

Plus, I got to say that Finn totally wore a Jake Suit and punched a Lich’s head off. It’s not every day I get to write that.

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