“Adventure Time: Playing With Fire”
Written by Danielle Corsetto
Illustrated by Zack Sterling
Additional Pencils by JJ Harrison
Inks by Stephanie Hocutt
Tones by Amanda Lafrenais
Letters by Mad Rupert
Published by KaBoom Studios!
The following review contains spoilers for the fourth season of the Adventure Time television series, with this comic being set during season five, sometime after the episode “Vault of Bones”.
Having closely examined the new black-and-white original graphic novel “Adventure Time: Playing With Fire”, it is clear this book contains one flaw and one flaw only: that being that it does, in fact, end. Perhaps it even reaches its end too soon. There are no page numbers on the interior, but Amazon claims the page count is 160. This includes “Adventure Time With BMO!”, a ridiculously cute bonus story that takes up the last 20 pages of the book. So, at 140 pages – which are light on dialogue; the story is more often expressed visually and with large panels – this main comic can be read very quickly (and the side story has virtually no dialogue; it’s entirely visual). The Adventure Time fan will likely be craving for a lot more when they finish this comic, which means it is probably doing its job well, and the brisk “running time” only strengthens the connection to the television series, which contains mere 11-minute episodes. With the on-going monthly “Adventure Time” comic often telling multi-issue story arcs, being able to tell longer stories on a larger scale, this comic feels a lot more like an episode of the series. And an amazing episode, at that.
It is circa season five, and Finn and the Flame Princess (F.P.) are now most-definitely-dating-and-passed-that-really-awkward-stage-where-they-were-crushing-on-each-other-and-unsure-what-to-do-with-their-feelings. The couple – with Jake, of course – are enjoying a regularly awesome day of existence (which is every day in the Land of Ooo) and they decide to take a stroll to the super-amazing Carnival Kingdom; which, yes, is every bit as cool as the name implies. Finn, being Finn, shows off a little and wins F.P. a prize at one of the carnival games, and she wants to try it for herself. After failing, and being called “sweetheart” by the sexist carny, she loses her temper and control and starts setting the kingdom ablaze. The comic frequently addresses F.P.’s anger problems, which trace back to her supposedly inherit evil/chaotic nature, and being raised by a father who wants her to embrace everything evil. She is in a constant struggle to break free from those associations, wanting to become a genuinely good person, but occasionally falling back on wickedness when it proves convenient. Flame Princess is the star of this comic, which adds even more depth to her than there was before, expanding on her characterization in truly beautiful ways; so much so that is a little sad that this comic falls outside of the main continuity (Pendleton Ward seriously needs to address this comic about its possibility of being canon.).
The writing in this comic is pure Adventure Time, and could easily pass as an adapted script from the show’s writers. The characters of F.P., Finn and Jake are all spot-on, there are an abundance of jokes-that-work (even the intentionally lame ones!), often embracing the show’s absurd sense of humour, and like the most memorable episodes of the show, this comic is seriously very good at illustrating the dramatic side of Adventure Time as well, and will leave you feeling some fairly heavy things. And to end things on a happy note, the BMO mini-comic washes away all bad feelings forever and ever.
“Playing With Fire” is a self-contained story, but this comic is labeled as “Volume 1”, with “Volume 2” set to be released September, 2013, with the same creative team. It is currently not known whether “Volume 2” will tell another self-contained story, or continue this story. Either way, expectations are high.