August 3, 2012

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Adventure Time #5

Written by Ryan North (backups by Paul Pope and Georgia/Chris Roberson)
Illustrated by Mike Holmes (backups by Paul Pope and Lucy Knisley)
Boom! Studios

Finn and Jake take a walk around their world in a contest to make the straightest line so they can have a cup cake and in the process find they might not be so different after all.  Meanwhile, other worlds await them at the imaginative hands of Paul Pope, and the Robersons point out the problems of being an amorous Ice King in a series of one-shots in the fifth issue of Adventure Time.

I'd liked this series well enough, even though I have no attachment to the television program it belongs to.  Ryan North seemed to have a good handle on the characters and the backups were pretty funny.

With this issue, however, North kicks things into high gear.  This issue is full on absurd, like reading an extended Dinosaur Comics riff.  From the idea of a "cup cake" that is literally a cake baked in a cup to the dialogue between Finn and Jake, which (for better or worse, depending on your opinion) reads like T-Rex banter to meeting up with an amalgam of themselves, North romps from one stupid-silly idea to the next.  His story features preposterous ideas with sarcastic banter in rapid-fire patter that seems to work perfectly with the Adventure Time cast.  This is the first issue where it feels like North is letting himself work freely and the result is one of the best comedic comics I've read in some time.

Mike Holmes is up to the mighty task of bringing North's vivid imagination to life here.  The art on Adventure Time is similar to James Kochalka's, which means that it's easy to bend the rules of anatomy and context in order to things like Jake expanding over a wall or giving the Mice King mice-gauntlets.  Bad puns flow freely, both visually and verbally, and Holmes has just the right look and feel to accommodate them.

Paul Pope's backup shows the more surreal side of Adventure Time, as Finn and Jake play with a mirror that puts them into some familiar scenes and into a deep philosophical question.  It's extremely strange and drawn amazingly well, with Pope going against his traditional style a bit to better reflect the characters.

Last up is the one-page quick hit by the Robersons and Lucy Knisley, in which the Ice King tries to be a jerk to a Queen and quickly sees the error of his ways.  It's a one and done joke, but I laughed.  Young Georgia Roberson has quite the future as a writer, should she choose.

Adventure Time is hitting its stride with this issue, managing the tricky terrain of a licensed comic and doing it in a way that is genuinely entertaining.  This one moves up to my recommended list and is well worth checking out, especially for Dinosaur Comics fans.  You'll find the style is shifting more and more towards North's webcomic, and if it stays that way, this could be a fun ride.