Rest assured, prior exposure to the mad world of Adventure Time is not required to enjoy the debut issue of Kaboom’s Adventure Time: The Flip Side mini-series. In fact, this all-ages charmer serves as a splendid entry point for those that are mystified and/or intimidated by the ongoing main series’ 23 issues and Pendleton Ward’s Cartoon Network series. The odd thing is, the book doesn’t dare waste time offering up explanations or introductions — it’s just that open and intoxicating a story that you find yourself keeping pace.
Written by Bandette‘s Eisner Award winning creative duo Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, Adventure Time: The Flip Side breathlessly begins its rollicking journey on the first page, sending Finn, Jake, and BMO off toward… well, adventure in an effort to cure Finn from a case of “Quest deficiency”. No simple quest will do, though. Not helping a giant with his shoelaces, saving a centaur’s cupcake from the scourge of gravity, or solving the pancake princesses proper pillow problem (I hope you tried to read that out loud three or seven times).
To find the right quest, our eager trio must seek out a Quest Board, unpinning a card from the back of the board which tells them that Princess Painting has been abducted by Monkey Wizard. To Finn, Jake, and BMO, this seems like the perfect quest, and so, despite signs that this may not be the best plan, they head off toward “a new land” and “a new adventure”.
Adventure Time: The Flip Side is illustrated by Wook Jin Clark (Megagogo). Coover (who handles the illustration work on Bandette) contributes one of the alternate covers. The art is solid, certainly not a distraction, but the merger between Clark’s style and the established look of the characters proves to be a bit too seamless. I suppose I was hoping that Clark’s take on Adventure Time would distinguish itself a bit more overall — standing out as a loose interpretation of the characters and not an impression. In the land of Huff Huff Huff on the road to Princess Painting’s Castle, though, Clark’s art does find a way to shine as the story strays from the more familiar setting of Ooo and new characters are introduced. This also represents a whimsical high point for Tobin and Coover, who seem like they are drawing inspiration from the likes of Labyrinth and Alice in Wonderland as they spin their tale. The twist ending is pitch-perfect, allowing this story to feel complete and satisfying while stoking interest in the next issue and the mini-series as a whole.
Adventure Time: The Flip Side also manages to rise where so many All-Ages books fall, in that Tobin and Coover’s lush fairytale supplies enough smart and enough silly to actually appeal to kids and adults. Read it for storytime, read it during your commute, just read it.