May 12, 2015

[Comics] Adventure Time Vol. 4 - Bitter Sweets

Of all the characters in Adventure Time, the one who has shown the most development and changes is probably Princess Bubblegum. She started out as an interesting supporting character - a strong monarch but potentially a romantic interest for Finn as well. But that door quickly closed as Princess Bubblegum would time and time again put her duty to her subjects above any personal feelings.

Bitter Sweets is the fourth original graphic novel for Adventure Time and it finally comes around to focusing on our pink haired monarch. And this adventure actually takes her outside the confines of the Candy Kingdom as part of an important mission.

Princess Bubblegum can be pretty fascinating, but admittedly the most "controversy" around her tends to come in when she has to make ultra-logical decisions that don't always seem all that "nice" given a "hero" of the show. This story doesn't quite have her in such a situation, but it's still an interesting romp that is a great excuse for featuring even more of one of my favorite characters in the show - Peppermint Butler!

Synopsis: Adventure Time Vol. 4 - Bitter Sweets is the fourth original graphic novel created by BOOM! Studios. The story was written by Kate Leth with art by Zack Sterling.

The comic reveals an interesting 10 year tradition of sorts - that every decade Princess Bubblegum visits three nearby kingdoms in order to recharge certain magical gems that actually power the Candy Kingdom itself. And with the likes of Lady Rainicorn and even Finn & Jake busy with their own activities, it's up to Princess Bubblegum and Peppermint Butler to take on the quest on their own.

Things start out well enough as a sort of grand tour for Princess Bubblegum. But in time it is revealed that the three kingdoms have interrelated problems. And the problems of the kingdoms may also get in the way of Princess Bubblegum's efforts to recharge the Candy Kingdom. And given some of her actions on the show, a good question is to what lengths she'll go to get what she needs and what this means for these neighbors?

First off, I wasn't expecting for this comic to go full color after three different issues of black and white adventures. I repeatedly interpreted this as an effort to pay homage to black and white manga titles or something along those lines. But that has been thrown out the window with this book since we have so much color going on. the treatment of the book is still different from the sort of glossier finish we see in the main Adventure Time comic books. Still, the end result is a much more vivid and color experience and I don't feel bad about this shift.

I rather liked the overall flow of this story, although admittedly it's questionable to claim that this story is truly focused on Princess Bubblegum. Sure, she's front and center in this story, but quite quickly we see how the squabbles of the three kingdoms is really what becomes the point of this story. And yes, Princess Bubblegum is important in resolving things in the end, a lot of the action doesn't necessary involve her in an active manner.

Given my past discussions about Adventure Time, it should be of no surprise to folks that I most enjoyed this book because of Peppermint Butler. He totally steals the show, so to speak, whenever he appears within the comic and we're talking totally brilliant Peppermint Butler complete with dark magical powers. His essentially demonic abilities come into play in this story as well and it's all pretty glorious. Peppermint Butler is unintentional comedy gold.

Adventure Time Vol. 4 - Bitter Sweets is a fun addition to this series of original graphic novels and a chance to feature a bit more Princess Bubblegum without the distraction of the likes of Finn & Jake. It's not an absolutely perfect story, but I enjoyed it a lot. And so the book gets 4.5 magical powers guarded by the different kingdoms out of a possible 5.

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