I’m about to put myself out there and potentially ruin my geek credibility with this next statement…
I’ve never seen an episode of Adventure Time.
Sure, I’m reasonably aware of the characters; there is Jake and Finn and Rey… Wait that might be a different thing… Oh yeah, that anthropomorphic Nintendo gameboy too. I know the Ice King by virtue of having attended many conventions in the last five years but I have no idea how or where he fits into the whole Adventure Time universe. Is he a good guy, a bad guy, a source of irritation to the protagonists and/or comic relief?
Why the hell am I reviewing the comic when I can’t even verify with my daughter (Who also doesn’t watch but, by her admission, that’s by choice) who or what the missing Gunther is?
Well, for starters, I have a clean slate going in and from what I gathered The Ice King falls into the comic relief zone. Even without really knowing the character by the way he behaves; vain, obsessive, insecure, inconsiderate of others, and generally clueless, I can tell that his prime role in the TV series is as classic comic relief idiot. The type that causes mostly problems, mostly unintentionally, for those around him.
Not to say he doesn’t have some likable qualities. He obviously cares for his companion and/or pet penguin Gunther whose disappearance kicks off the plot of this six issue series. Most of this issue deals with the Ice King’s search for his missing friend which brings him, briefly, into Jake and Finn’s orbit (in classic secondary character getting a main story fashion… you need the cameos from the leads). It also brings him to what I assume are secondary or minor supporting characters like copy queen (?), a fairy girl, or princess that is really pissed that Ice King is in her sock drawer and Abracadaniel whom (I can only guess) is a cross between Richard Simmons and a purple dildo. After scouring the world of Adventure Time and remaining Gunther-less, Ice King finds a ransom note on his fridge (which also lends to the idiot theory because he didn’t see the note earlier that morning). Gunther was kidnapped by someone calling himself “Dark Magistar Templi Marble” which means the kidnapper either writes God-awful Harry Potter fanfic or takes himself way too seriously.
Ice King heads off to a wizard city In search of clues and help. He becomes aware, sorta dimly, that not very many people like him. Except for the afore mentioned Simmonds/dildo hybrid Abracadaniel. But, hey, even the disliked can look down on others. He blows off Abracadaniel in a selfish character defining moment that will be sure to pop back up as a plot point in a future issue. He also taps a magic shop owner named Ron James for help with little luck. He does meet a “cool” wizard who fills in some back story on Marble and invites Ice King into a wizard clique. So thrilled is Ice King about joining a secret wizard society that he pretty much completely forgets about his missing bird. He also gets to blow off …Daniel again.
For all the wild acid induced visual flare of the book the set-up and execution of this story is pretty “by the numbers”. One with some literary experience can basically see the whole arc of this story within a few pages. That’s not a bad thing and since this book is aimed at a younger audience it’s all new to them. The jokes are a bit stale; Ron James caught checking out a centerfold exclaims “I only read it for the articles!” for example is a joke that was old when my dad was checking out centerfolds, even though the target audience is too young to get the joke.
The character designs have a ten year old on acid feel to them, or possibly a counter-cultural influence. It’s still better than I can draw and the art is working off different source material so Natalie Andrewson can’t be faulted. In fact from what I’ve seen of Adventure Time she really has a bead on the whacked out look of the show (plus some decent visual jokes like Ice King showering with ice cubes).
Pranas may be pulling punches in the writing department but he shouldn’t have to; kids are smarter than they generally let on. I have a feeling that the cartoon has a bit more zest and cleverness in its blood; usually that’s a determining factor in a cultish show like Adventure Time.
Ultimately I think I’m just too old for what Adventure Time: Ice King is, I’ve heard all the jokes and known the story for years, and that’s fine. This limited series probably serves its audience well enough. I just expected, from the look of the show, it’s reputation, and the fans I’ve met at cons, something a little more unique.
Boy there sure are a lot of Finn cosplayers out there.