Because between the main series and the many miniseries spin-offs, this franchise wasn’t producing enough comics. ADVENTURE TIME ANNUAL #1 provides readers with no less than six short stories for their reading pleasure. How will they stack up to the standard comic?
Remember how any given issue of the main series usually has a backup story at the end by a different writer/artist? And how they’re usually short vignettes? ADVENTURE TIME ANNUAL #1 is basically an anthology comprised entirely of those. As such, I will attempt to present them in my standard format for anthologies.
“A, You’re Adventurous!” by Roger Langridge is an alphabet run through, but with ADVENTURE TIME’s usual brand of humor. It tells a tale of adventure, so the letters weave together to form a narrative rather than just taking the easy way out and having Finn and Jake bop around at random. Also, the words used to illustrate each letter are fairly complex, like Blunderbuss or Harridan.
It’s an okay piece, though I’m obviously much older than the target audience.
“A Sword Most Awesome” by D.A. Cox begins with a kind of board game, with Finn needing to get through a cave to reach the titular sword. Readers are invited to start rolling dice to reach the end, though I only ever tried it once with a D20, and gave up when I hit a “Go Back 40 Spaces” space. The other spaces are pretty funny, but that one is just cheap and unfair.
Oh, and then there’s a short scene with Finn reaching the sword. And he can have it…for a price! Am I the only one who got Excalibur flashbacks?
“No Dogs Allowed” was written by Bryce Carlson and illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, the latter being the excellent artist on L’il Gotham. It’s a short piece, even by this issue’s standards. Finn and Jake go to a (presumably) awesome party, but it seems said party doesn’t allow dogs. In the real world this would merely be protocol, since the real world doesn’t often have talking sentient dogs.
In the land of Ooo, where darn near everything is sentient, this comes off less as protocol or sanitation and more like racism. Not that it matters, since Jake can shape-shift. But that just means the oppressed person bent over backwards to avoid offending others, when it should be the party’s planners that should be punished for discrimination.
“Dungeons And Desserts” by Josh Williamson and Jason Ho is a parody of D&D starring Ice King and a party of penguins. In their adventure, a muscular Ice King leads his party against Finn as an evil wizard and his pet dragon Jake. The goal: obtain the legendary Ice Sword in the Ice Cream. But treachery is afoot!
I think my favorite part of this one is the penguins, dressed up in traditional adventurer garb as befitting their respective classes. There’s even a rogue with sinister facial tattoos, squinting evil eyes, and a penchant for backstabs (which we don’t see for obvious reasons). Also, it’s always fun to watch Ice King use his imagination to paint himself as the hero, instead of the lonely villain he truly is. It’s actually pretty sad when you think about it.
Then again, Ice King’s entire tragic past is pretty sad.
“The Summiteers” by Derek Fridolf sees Finn and Jake attempt to climb the tallest mountain in Ooo. The only problem is Finn, being a human being, is stopped by the low oxygen content, and can’t physically move. It’s lucky his backpack gains sentience at that point, and decides to carry him. It’s just too back that means the pack will have all the adventures, and Finn just gets to hang out looking backwards, not seeing anything.
By the way, the more weird ADVENTURE TIME fans now have license to ship Finn with his backpack. Not that their was anything stopping you before.
This was a pretty sweet story, with ski ninja/surf samurai battles, yeti politics (which is somehow more rational than actual politics), and a sentient backpack vomiting its entire contents on the ground to find a stick. But it also ends with a kind of messed up resolution. I fear for Finn’s sanity now.
Lastly is my personal favorite, “The Lemonsea” by Sfe Monster and Kory Bing. The two Earls of Lemongrab venture to the titular Lemonsea in order to have a picnic. They marvel briefly at the lemon seals, including a pup they call Nubbins. And then they proceed to catch and convert various lemon sea life into food for their meal. It’s kind of disturbing seeing them turn octopi into pies (I do love puns), and squeeze lemon fish into lemonade. Especially when you consider that the Earls are also lemons themselves.
Have I mentioned that ADVENTURE TIME is really weird? At least there wasn’t any shrill screaming this time.
Personally I liked ADVENTURE TIME ANNUAL #1, although you can easily leave it be and not miss anything substantial. Then again, most of the main series can be characterized as such, being largely episodic and all. I think the individual stories are better than the average backup story, though that may be because most are also much longer. They have time to build and pay off their gags.