First Impressions – ADVENTURE TIME: CANDY CAPERS #1

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Yet another Adventure Time miniseries from Boom Studios. Finn and Jake have gone missing, and the Candy Kingdom’s scientist emperor has no time to solve its problems. So Princess Bubblegum leaves the dispensing of order to her most trusted subjects: Peppermint Butler and Cinnamon Bun.

It goes as well as can be expected. How can it be made worse?

I’ve neglected the various Adventure Time miniseries over the last year or so, mostly because the ongoing series gives me enough to work with as it is. I only read the first issue of Marceline And The Scream Queens, and ignored Adventure Time starring genderbent versions of all the characters entirely (I don’t dislike Fiona And Cake, I just don’t care about them all that much). And in truth, my original plan was to avoid ADVENTURE TIME: CANDY CAPERS as well.

But then I found out who was writing the series, and my attitude reversed completely.

This six-issue miniseries is written by the duo of Ananth Panagariya and Yuko Ota, who also write and draw one of my favorite webcomics, Johnny Wander. I clearly missed the notice about their hands in this series, because now I’m a month and one issue behind.

ADVENTURE TIME: CANDY CAPERS #1 plays out like a parody/homage to hard boiled detective fiction. Peppermint Butler, the quasi-infernal aide to Princess Bubblegum, assumes leadership of the Banana Guard as the Banana Boss after the Princess realizes Finn and Jake, the de facto protectors of the Candy Kingdom, have disappeared without a trace. Without the only competent (and unbusy) individuals to solve the kingdom’s every major and minor problem, the Candy Kingdom devolves into a state described best in the comic’s own words: The Nightosphere On Earth.

For those unfamiliar with Adventure Time lore, the Nightosphere is Hell in everything but name. Demons live there. Also bananas have disgusting connotations to its residents, but that’s neither here nor there.

So Peppermint Butler is put in charge of law and order, and already we’re unsure of his ability to maintain them. Not because he’s incompetent – he’s closer to competence on the sliding scale of pants-on-headedness – but rather because, if you know anything about him, you know he’s probably evil. At the very least Lawful Evil. He consorts with both Death and the demons of the Nightosphere, and on at least one occasion threatened to eat Finn and Jake’s flesh while they sleep. This comic reinforces this assessment, with lines like “Let’s Destroy Problems!” or “next time you try to take someone out…be sure to finish the job”. All played for laughs of course.

It’s probably for the best that Peppermint Butler is on the Candy Kingdom’s side. And given the cognitive abilities of its citizens and the aloofness of its ruler, the Candy Kingdom needs all the help it can get.

Especially when PB’s (that is to say Peppermint Butler, not Princess Bubblegum) right hand pastry is Cinnamon Bun. A character of, shall we say, limited intelligence. Clumsy too. Cosmic Owl save the kingdom from its own protectors.

Anyway, ADVENTURE TIME: CANDY CAPERS #1 is a very good start to the series. The writing of Ota and Panagariya is hilarious to save the least, able to grasp the manic and sardonic humor Adventure Time is famous for. The comedic timing is impeccable. Moreover, the illustrations by Ian McGinty is expressive and colorful, enhancing the dialogue with rich character faces. Furthermore, there’s an attention to detail that makes the world seem more complete, more densely populated. This refers both to background characters and references to aspects of the setting, like a tower with two chimera locked forever in a duel of the minds, the two ministered and maintained by dutiful Banana Guards.

And to top off the issue, Peppermint Butler institutes the Royal Hero Draft, a process that will undoubtedly lead to focuses on different sets of characters in later issues. The second issue I know for a fact stars Marceline and Tree Trunks. Such is the quality of the series that it doesn’t dwell too long on single characters that might become stale with repeated viewing.

Although I think I could afford to see Peppermint Butler acting the part of the hard boiled police chief further. Miniseries recommended, and check out Johnny Wander while you’re at it.

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