First Impressions – BRAVEST WARRIORS #1

With the advent of a new animated show based on the OTHER notable short created by Pendleton Ward, a comic adaptation was inevitable given the success of the Adventure Time comic. Ergo, we have BRAVEST WARRIORS #1.

And it’s weird. Even by my standards, it’s weird.

Remember how Pendleton Ward created Adventure Time? Remember how that took off from an animated short into one of the best shows on TV? Well Ward also made another short called Bravest Warriors. The best way to describe Bravest Warriors is that it’s Adventure Time, except the characters are slightly older, and it’s set in space. An SF Adventure Time if you will.

I have a tough time figuring this show out. But more on that in a minute.

In an example of creators embracing the power of the web, Ward is working with a number of creators to form a YouTube based cartoon channel called Cartoon Hangover. Ward’s contribution, obviously, is an adaptation of his original Bravest Warriors pilot. It stars four teenaged heroes-for-hire, who bop around space saving cute aliens “using their emotions”. Their emphasis. It would appear emotions play a significant role in the series, ostensibly for ironic purposes.

This is the extent of what I’ve been able to grasp about the show itself, aside from what I’ve seen in the pilot and in this comic adaptation. And I’m still fairly confused as to what I’m seeing. Keep in mind also that I’m a fan of Adventure Time and review the comic book on a monthly basis. Should I not already “get” this kind of thing. Apparently not, because this comic alone stumps me.

Just to give a taste as to what we’re in for, the comic begins with the titular Warriors helping a banana ambassador solve her planet’s sexism crisis. They accomplish this by blowing the planet up, presumably killing billions. This is treated as a good thing, and then it’s never brought up again.

Where do I begin? Keep in mind I’m not saying any of this is bad per se, but first and foremost the conflict directly involved solving sexism. Gender inequality that is, just so we’re clear there aren’t any typing errors on my part or partial blindness on your part. I don’t know what I was expecting given my experience with Adventure Time, but it certainly wasn’t that. Nor was I expecting the cavalier genocide of an entire planet’s worth of people.

I think it helps immensely that all of this is clearly meant as a huge joke, and it just took me off guard. For a while there, I was in the position of those people who first see Adventure Time and don’t know what the hell is going on. I know such people personally, being that my major involves me studying the nature of media and its changing nature in the modern world.

I think the major concern I had with BRAVEST WARRIORS #1 is that it doesn’t seem to know what to do with itself in this issue. We’re introduced to the cast of the show (more on them later) as they’re baking cupcakes. Immediately afterward they set their cupcakes to fight to the death for their amusement. And then Danny starts crying. Did I mention Bravest Warriors puts a lot of stock into the humor involved with teenaged heroes talking about their feelings?

What I’m getting at here is that whereas Adventure Time had plenty of random stuffed into every orifice, every installment of the show and comic had a clear goal it worked towards. Bravest Warriors seemed to meander about for much of this initial issue, though I’m perfectly willing to chalk it up to getting new readers (like me) familiar with the characters and the style of humor.

The cast is as follows: the leader Chris who has a crush on the girl of the group; Beth, the aforementioned Chick with a curious preoccupation with violence (and a disturbing assertion that her choice in cheesy horror movies would be scary enough to induce premature childbirth in pregnant women); the previously mentioned Danny, the Lancer of the group with a penchant over the overdramatic; Wallow, the Big Guy with a love for romance films; Pixel, the AI that dwells in Wallow’s left arm and appears attached to the guy in more ways than one; and Plum, the unofficial fifth Bravest Warrior/Sixth Ranger who deserves an entire paragraph of her own.

So Plum is some kind of mermaid (with a tail that apparently changes to legs at will), and is also apparently one of the most powerful creatures in the universe. This is an informed power, I assure you. Also she shares head-space with an alternate personality of an ancient sea hag that periodically makes itself heard in nasty burns and references to Emanuel Lasker and Hans Christian Anderson. All of that comes straight from the comic. I can only guess Plum stumps me because unlike Adventure Time, where the weird elements of the Land of Ooo comes in bits and pieces over time, we’re getting a crash course of Bravest Warriors all at once. As such, it’s more likely to be immediately rejected or questioned in large amounts than usual.

I don’t know about this one guys. The property was made by Pen Ward, so I know I ought to love this. But maybe the fact that the Adventure Time comic started things off with a fight against a Lich, while this one started with exploding a sexist banana planet and watching fake film trailers (including one for sharks in space), left me more bewildered than anything.

Oh, and Ryan Pequin of Three Word Phrase provided a secondary story, as per the standard format of these things. The Bravest Warriors went a round of laser tag. It was pretty good.

Will I be picking up issue two? Not really. More than anyone I wish such up and coming properties were supported, but I have neither the time nor the money to pick up yet another new series. Especially one that so confounds me. Some other time perhaps. Don’t allow my reservations deter you from giving the series a shot. It’s well drawn and, for the style a humor it’s going for, it’s certainly earnest and well constructed. I’m pretty sure my assessment of this comic is hugely unfair to Bravest Warriors, so let yourself be the judge of its quality.

The Bravest Warrior show begins on November 8th, only on YouTube.

Did this post spark an interest in alternative animation/comics? Have you ever heard of either Bravest Warrior or Pendleton Ward before this? Are you a long time reader who has grown tired of me gushing about incomprehensible children’s shows? Leave a comment below.

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One Response to First Impressions – BRAVEST WARRIORS #1

  1. Pingback: exploding planet « Publication-X

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