ADVENTURE TIME: THE FLIP SIDE #1/ Written by PAUL TOBIN & COLLEEN COOVER/ Art by WOOK JIN CLARK/ Letters by AUBREY AIESE/ Published by BOOM STUDIOS
Here we are, kicking off a new year with a new Adventure Time mini-series. Adventure Time: The Flip Side # 1 could be a curveball for some dedicated Adventure Time readers and viewers. While this first issue has classic bro-fisting moments and a much needed Finn/Jake/BMO tag team, the trio of Paul Tobin, Colleen Coover, and Wook Jin Clark construct a reasonably different vehicle to support their Adventure Time mini-series. Straying away from familiar visuals and sequencing of an established series’ style can be a risky move, but in several areas their risks come with considerable pay off. However, other attributes of this comic give it a stumbling “first issue” vibe.
What doesn’t work in Adventure Time: The Flip Side #1 is the panel sequencing as it lacks fluidity. For the most part the comic is in uniformly squared-off panels with very few open-frame moments. Usually there isn’t a problem with this style choice, but with Adventure Time characters their personalities tends to burst off the page. Confining every moment to a neatly-planned panel layout hinders the genuine personality and excitement of the story. The panels don’t flow naturally from one to another, and because of that, the energy of Finn and Jake’s adventure is tamed.
Other than the page layouts, Adventure Time: The Flip Side #1 has good things going for it. The writing duo of Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover weave a well laid out first issue and develop a story that will take time to settle into its own. Readers looking for an instantly silly and pumped-up energy may not be immediately gratified by this book. Routinely, Adventure Time stories have a tendency to lay the conflict right out in the open fairly early on, but this story is following its own stride. Once that stride is hit, the story unfolds smoothly. The reader is introduced to the concept of the adventurer’s board as an ignition for the story’s conflict, but the writers take their time revealing exactly what kind of mayhem the heroes will have to endure. Finn and Jake’s personalities are fleshed out in their actions not their dialogue, which is presented in choppily placed exclamations.
Wook Jin Clark’s art in Adventure Time: The Flip Side #1 will take a bit of getting used to. Since the style is nowhere near a carbon copy of Adventure Time’s signature look the line work could throw readers off. But once the eyes have adjusted, what shines through is a nicely balanced ratio of character and scenery. Finn’s design changes throughout the book in what can only be described as mild growing pains. Sometimes he appears with broad shoulders and defined elbows, while other times he returns to his rounded frame and noodle arms. Somehow, this degree of inconsistency works because most panels feature angular character poses and more rounded background scenery, or vice versa.
As Adventure Time: The Flip Side #1 enters its final pages a clearer picture of the central conflict and mystery regarding the “flip side” of the adventurer’s board is revealed, but readers who are a bit impatient will have a difficult time sinking their teeth into this one. Despite its issues with composition, the payoff is sure to be worth it. If the patience and structure of this book carry through, The Flip Side will be a stand out among Adventure Time mini-series.