Adventure Time! OGN: Seeing Red
Writer: Kate Leth
Illustrator: Zachary Sterling
Inks: Ru Xu with Tessa Stone
Tones: Amanda Lafrenais
Letters: Aubrey Aiese
LSP’s Purse supplement: Meredith McClaren
Cover: Stephanie Gonzaga
As many devout Adventure Time fans can tell you, there is only one glaring criticism with the show; the lack of Marceline. Since her first appearance in the season one episode “Evicted”, Marceline quickly became a break-out character– and cosplay favourite. Her wild spirit and vulnerability make her an excellent role model for not only women, but for those of us who have unintentionally hardened our hearts to the outside world. She is over 1000 years old and is still making mistakes. Afte rall, people make mistakes. It’s part of growing up. And you never really stop growing.
Writer Kate Leth perfectly encapsulates the contradictory nature of everyone’s favourite vampire queen in her wonderful new original graphic novel Adventure Time: Seeing Red. With Finn away on a quest, Jake decides to answer Marceline’s call for adventure with a trip to the Nightosphere. It turns out that Marceline’s dad Hunson Abadeer is having a family reunion. Unlike most reunions, however, the Abadeer reunion plays host to a talent show. Since Marceline forgot her bass the last time a reunion was held she vows that this time will be different. This time she is going to blow them away with smoking riffs. Unfortunately for her, Hunson has seemingly sold her bass while she was away. Now it’s up to Marceline and Jake to quest all over the Nightosphere with hopes of reuniting Marceline with her beloved axe.
Leth’s expert grasp on the Adventure Time mythos is more than commendable, it’s downright encyclopedic. The inside jokes, that nostalgia for the classic days of gaming, down to the loveable yet awkward interactions with the citizens of the Nightosphere, Seeing Red is the best episode of Adventure Time you’ll never see. More than that however, and something most casual readers tend to overlook, is the heart at the depth of the story. Marceline’s strained relationship with her father is all too relatable and more importantly, believable.
It would have been easy for Leth to overlook the relationships in the book in favour of a kooky adventure in a bizarre world. But Leth is an adept Adventure Time fan, and she knows that all the great Adventure Time stories are the ones that veer from the realm of escapism. The memorable ones force the audience to look deep within themselves for feelings they may have long since forgotten. In the case of Seeing Red, this involves inadequacy, loneliness, being left behind, and paternal neglect. This does not mean the book is a downer, but this just means that Leth gets to have her cake and eat it too, much to the benefit of the reader.
Like Leth, penciller Zachary Sterling knows just what makes Adventure Time tick with art that mirrors the show to a tee. While the constraints of a licensed property do have a tendency to stifle any creative freedom, Sterling is given a number of opportunities to let loose in the playbox of the Nightosphere. He captures the quirky horrors of the Nightosphere with lovely tongue in cheek fashion, making the realm both enticing and slightly creepy. A stand-out scene is the table tennis match, drawn in wonderful Atari rendering, between Marceline and her rival Adelaide. It’s enough to make you wish for an Adventure Time Pong game for your iPhone.
Aubrey Aiese’s letters deserve a special commendation as she has the thankless task of portraying all the zaniness of the script in a legible manner. To say she pulls it off is an understatement. Her ability to jump from joyful shouts to enraged beckonings then to 8-bit emoticons is more than brilliant, it’s mathematical! While the inks and shading are a nice touch, the only real criticism I can find with the book is the choice to go with a black and white manga style as opposed to colour. The world of Ooo is one of vibrancy and simple ocular pleasures. The black and white element certainly doesn’t ruin the books greatness, but it definitely hinders it.
If one story wasn’t enough, we also get a new Lumpy Space Princess short by Meredith McClaren. While not as strong as Seeing Red, LSP’s Purse is a nice little addition to an already excellent package. Besides, its a great way to practice your LSP voice to yourself.
With Adventure TimeOGN: Seeing Red, Kate Leth and Zachary Sterling have crafted one of the best Adventure Time tales you will ever have the pleasure of reading. It’s a comical, wacky, heartfelt romp through the Nightosphere that will leave you clamouring for more– or at least find you busting out your bass and making some sick covers.