“Adventure Time” #12 from Ryan North, Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb is the sort of comic every kid wants to read. It’s like Saturday morning cartoon jazz in sequential form. The story is never as important as the random swagger the book has. The loose narrative is only ever really there to carry forward a series of scenes for jokes and very live dialogue. Yet, North also still spends time crafting interesting reasons for things to progress. This issue revolves around Lumpy Space Princess wanting to play with the gang and then the gang trying desperately to find Ewlbo, a wizard they are interested in.
The main feature in this issue is only 16 pages long. As far as narrative is concerned, it’s a sequence to carry the plot, its tokens, and the characters from one set up to another. Jake, Finn and Marceline are not successful in finding Ewlbo but their search yields a set of pages with rapid-fire jokes and plenty of slick language that rolls off the page more than it should be allowed. North manages to utilize the voices of these characters for a lot of fun and while balloons pepper the page it’s never a chore to read.
Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb ensure their characters are constantly doing something whether it’s the focus of the panel or not. This attention to detail, and depth of world building, is what kids will go nuts for on this book. The faces are funny and the situations are extreme. It is also nice to see clarity in artwork that knows it must compete with so much text.
The back up tale, “The Ice King & His Magical Matchmaking Mini-Comic,” sadly isn’t able to deliver the same lessons in structure and fun that the main story can. There are some decent laughs on offer, and Andrew Arnold packs his pages effectively with small panels, but in the end the weakness of the actual story lets it all down so it actually falls apart on the final page leaving a bitter taste. There is a difference between being casually nonchalant for a gag and then not having anything to say and so walking away. This short is on the wrong side of that divide.
“Adventure Time” #12 is just another example of why this licensed comic is one of the best on the stands. It takes the tone of the show and it transports it onto the comic page effectively. This issue is a little thin on the actual storytelling but the main story more than makes up for it with a laughs per page ratio.