“Adventure Time 2014 Winter Special” #1 by Luke Pearson, Jeremy Sorese, T. Zysk, Janet Rose, Allison Strejlaw features four winter-themed “Adventure Time” short stories. Perhaps it’s the post-holiday winter chill, but it’s notable that all but one of the stories is a little dark in tone.
“Snow Hope” by Luke Pearson “Snow Hope” starts off being a mistaken accusation story. Pearson draws expressive, cute versions of Finn, Jake and Ice King, and his color palette is warm and airy-feeling. The snow that Finn so eagerly anticipated has melted overnight, but Finn is convinced that Ice King stole the snow. It’s a predictable plot since Ice King is routinely thought of as being worse than he is by Finn and Jake. The resulting antics inspire sympathy for Ice King’s unusual maturity and level-headedness in this scene, making the final panel even sharper. The story switches gears halfway through into tongue-in-cheek horror, complete with the old trope about the origin of possessed goods from a shady dealer. The final twist is nothing radical, and zoom-in in particular is a familiar move, but Pearson’s pacing and panel composition still make it a little chilling.
“Pups in Peril” by Jeremy Sorese is the most unconventional story of the bunch in artwork and in plot. Jake is assisted by BMO and Tree Trunks in his attempt to escape from ice creatures who are obsessed with dogs, since “hot” dogs are their enemies. The pun is ridiculous but is a charming notion. Sorese’s chalky loose line is crayon-like and expressive, and his imagery brings a lot of atmosphere to the story. His color palette is dominated by translucent cool-toned blues, which suits the setting. Sorese’s composition technique is unorthodox, with many of the pages being full-page splashes with smaller panels superimposed over the action to break it up. His original approach results in a different kind of reading experience, with the reader’s attention drawn in by unusual details, but it also makes the action more confusing, even though the plot is the simplest of the anthology and can be characterized as a surreal, protracted chase sequence.
Like “Snow Hope,” “A Sour Winter” by T. Zysk relies on parody for its effects. The ever-incensed Earl of Lemongrab has found a new antagonist: snow. Readers in cold climates may sympathize. Zysk’s voice for the Earl is appropriately archaic in rhythm and sentence structure. The Earl’s monologue on themes of hate and loneliness is funny in the excess of rage and how seriously the Earl takes himself. The artwork complements the tone because Zysk’s fine linework emphasizes the Earl’s ragged nerves and outsized emotions. Predictably but pleasantly, the final three pages wrap the story up by bringing things into perspective, as the reader witnesses Princess Bubblegum’s response to the Earl’s letter.
“Eye Scream” by Janet Rose and Allison Strejlaw features the largest case of characters from the regular “Adventure Time” roster. It features a plot that, like “Snow Hope” revolves around a case of mistaken assumptions about intention. Strejlaw’s panel composition for the action scenes is very strong, and the “snow creature” she draws looks like one of Jeff Smith’s rat creatures from “Bone.” The goofy food humor of the story ends this solid anthology on a cheerful note.