Adventure Time: Bitter Sweets
Written by Kate Leth
Pencillers: Zachary Sterling with Chrystin Garland
Inkers: Jenna Ayoub and Brittany Williams
Colorists: Whitney Cogar with Fred Stresing
Letterer: Aubrey Aiese
Cover Artist: Shephanie Gonzaga
Published by Boom! Studios
Adventure Time has always had a seemingly loose continuity filled with standalone stories that becomes woven together over the course of the series. Bitter Sweets, published by Boom! Studios, feels no different.
Every decade, Princess Bubblegum embarks on a journey to replenish the power of three gemstones. This quest is through the reaches of the Land of Oo: The Sea Caves, the Vegetable Kingdom, and The Spirit Hollow. These stones contain a magical power that prevents the ruination and fading of the Candy Kingdom, so this is a major journey. Along the way, Bubblegum and Peppermint Butler come in contact with the royalty in each of these regions and charge up the stones. Whenever they leave, something is amiss. The denizens of the Sea Caves and Vegetable Kingdom have recently brought their lands back from a certain doom, but never exactly reveal why. The plot is very straightforward with a wonderful twist at the halfway point in the story to keep people on their toes. Writer Kate Leth ultimately shows the struggles and worries in having responsibility for an entire kingdom’s safety. Through various means, other royals have come across methods of self preservation and made their decision for the protection of their kingdoms whilst sacrificing their trustworthiness with their neighbors, driving Bubblegum Princess to figure out how everyone can have an easier way of life.
Zachary Sterling nails the art for this story from page one. It captures what the TV series already set in place: a simply detailed but massively flowing art form that is at home on screens and paper everywhere. Readers find the characters in a myriad of emotional situations which are clearly displayed, even with the simplistic art design. The locales are bright and inviting. Even inside the gloomy Spirit Hollow, the environment appears more sleepy than dilapidated, foreshadowing a grand re-awakening. There exists no such thing as washed out characters or backgrounds, and the pages never feel like they visually drag on.
Although this story is more geared toward the Adventure Time fanbase that has been there since day one, newcomers to the series can enjoy a tale that everyone can relate to. The back cover cites this as “a deliciously twisted adventure about friendship and responsibility”. This book is much less disturbing than this implies, instead showing a battle between self-preservation and cooperation unfold in the Land of Oo.