Sunnytime Review Show: Adventure Time #5

Adventure Time’s sixth issue came out last Wednesday, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t spend a little time talking about Adventure Time #5

It’s rare that we get surprised anymore.  Usually books are previewed and spoilered all over the Internet (and make no mistake there will be SPOILERS here, too) so that by the time you get it home and in front of you, you usually know exactly what you’re going to get when you crack open the cover.  Past that, once a few issues have been released you get to know the tone and approach of the book, so even with a great title the latest issue tends to feel like  just the most recent installment of an excellent run (see also Jeff Parker’s books, or Jason Aaron’s, or Jonathan Hickman’s). 

And so it’s been with Adventure Time, the comic anthology of Cartoon Network’s hit (I have to assume) show.  Written by Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics) with art by Mike Holmes, it’s been a pretty consistent book.  Fun, zany mayhem with the characters you love, chock full of anthropomorphic candy and fist bumps, it’s a breezy read that somewhat betrays exactly how funny it is.  I mean, there’s a joke in almost literally every single panel.  Plus hidden messages!

When I brought home issue 5 I figured I knew exactly what I was into.  In this issue Jake the dog and Finn the human visit their pal BMO, who offers them a cupcake, but since they can’t decide how to share it a contest is devised: whoever can walk in a straight line the longest wins.  It doesn’t take long for their friendship (and most likely, laziness) to override their competitiveness so they can work together.  Then they stumble across Adventure Tim –a Finn/Jake composite — and his friend ALN.  They discover that their friends and adventures are almost exactly the same, but just a tad askew.  The Mice King attacks, they team up, and Finn and Jake return home having learned how to share.

Which is amazing.  I mean, it just works on all levels.  A kid could pick this up and get a funny, self-contained story (it’s a standalone issue) with a nice moral about teamwork and sharing that doesn’t feel overworked or preachy.  An adult can read it and stay happily delighted by the gags. 

But then — and I apologize if every other reader got this immediately and I’m just slow to arrive — North surprised me.  The entire issue was a love letter to fandom. 

Finn and Jake’s race in a straight line?  That’s a pretty straight homage to the first Superman/Flash race from Superman #199.  Adventure Tim is an admitted mashup of Finn and Jake, but it’s also a nice reference to the Composite Superman/Batman.  And Tim’s friend?  There’s been a long-time theory that when Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey, the insane computer HAL 9000 was a reference to IBM because those are the letters you get when you subtract one from each letter of IBM.  And when you subtract one letter from BMO it equals ALN.

None of this is done with an overt nod and a wink, but it’s there if you choose to see it and otherwise completely transparent, as it should be.  This is an exceptional and amazingly-crafted book, and that’s just the main feature.  The second backup is by indie legend Paul Pope, who manages to tell a short four-page story that’s true to both the characters and his own sensibilities.  Finally, the last story is a one-pager by Superman savior and Monkeybrain founder Chris Roberson and his 8 year-old daughter Georgia, with art by Lucy Knisley.  It’s a nicely-told story, but  the involvement of actual children along with their professional parents is such a charming touch I hope kaboom! continues to utilize it.

These days there are so many comics out there that just don’t know how to package and deliver entertainment.  All too often a story gets split into 6 issues and winds up stretched so thin that each part feels like the middle, or is bogged down in needless continuity, or frustratingly ignores any continuity whatsoever.  It’s so REFRESHING to pick up a comic where every single one of the 22 pages is packed with content, where there are no extraneous panels and every one is a delight.  Seriously friends, this is a perfect comic book. 

Random Links For Your Weekend

Wow, it has been a LONG time since I put one of these together!  But, with the need to close some browser tabs and the extremely dickish way DC has been sticking it to Alan Moore this week, well…we were overdue.

  • This is the check DC used to buy Superman in 1938.  And it just sold for $160,000.  Dollars.  American.
  • Tformers.com reviews the new (well, at the time!) Transformers Japanese Collection.  If I ever manage to make it through the American episodes I can’t wait to check these out.  Friend of the Blog David says they’re great!
  • With Paul Levitz no longer keeping DC from capitalizing on Watchmen, they’re just going WAY out of their way to make up for lost dollars time.  First, on Tuesday this is revealed:

Yes, that’s a Watchmen toaster.  A Watchmen.  Fucking.  Toaster.  Which nobody, EVER, has found themselves wishing for IF ONLY Alan Moore would stop being a fussy little baby.  Then DC opens up their own online storefront selling exclusive toys and the like.  Sure, it’s probably long overdue, but by selling Graphic Novels (and almost inevitably comics) and two styles of Comedian iPhone cases* (sorry AGAIN, Alan), they’re cutting out the retailers who have propped them up for decades. But at least they’re putting out an adorable V vinyl doll.  Because that’s what Alan Moore really meant for that work.** If it weren’t May I’d assume this was an April Fools gag.  (Thanks to Team Hellions, on whose site I saw this reported first.)

With that bit of bile out of the way, that’s it for this installment.  Have a good weekend, folks.  So I don’t end on a completely down note I’ll leave you with this bit of awesomeness.

*Seriously, if you’re most impressed by THE COMEDIAN, we cannot have anything in common.  That dude just straight up raped people and an iPhone may not be quite the right place to honor that guy.

**The conspiracy theorist in me wants to say that by making the Guy Fawkes mask cute and cuddly it will take away some of the power of the Occupy movement and Anonymous.  But the realist in me says that’s crazy, right?  Right?