mtscAdventure Time: Marceline & the Scream Queens by Meredith Gran
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: KaBOOM!
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

The smash-hit spinoff comic series based Cartoon Network’s top-rated cartoon, Adventure Time, is here! Join fan-favorite characters Marceline and Princess Bubblegum for riot grrl rock-fueled excitement in this brand-new ADVENTURE TIME mini-series! Thanks to a newfound interest in music, Princess Bubblegum joins Marceline’s paranormal rock band for a tour across the land of Ooo! But when they’re threatened by everything from scenesters to beasts born of self-doubt, can they make it to the RADDEST GIG EVER in time?! Written and drawn by acclaimed cartoonist Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie), this graphic novel collecting the entire hit series is a must-have for any ADVENTURE TIME fan!

So how many of you watch Adventure Time on Cartoon Network? My boyfriend and I LOVE this show, have seen it from the beginning, and have episodes we rewatch over and over again. It’s supposedly a kids show, but it has depth of character and story the likes of which I have never seen in animation before. The Ice King in particular has one of the saddest tales of human error EVER OF ALL TIME. The backstory is interesting, there is so much to learn in Ooo about the Mushroom War, but the female characters are my favorites. In the show, a long, troubled friendship between Princess Bubblegum (PB or P-Bubs to Finn) and Marceline the Vampire Queen is hinted at, but we don’t see much of them together. This sort of fixes that, and in the best way possible. This is a series of six comics, so I’ll review them one by one, then have a summary graf at the end.

#1: Right off the bat, PB is annoyed by Marceline. We know from experience that PB and Marceline are both jealous of the other and seem to have a hard time saying so.  Marceline pretends like she doesn’t care about PB’s opinion, but she does, and it upsets her that the princess doesn’t seem into her music. The history between the two girls I mentioned before is hinted at some more here, with Marceline calling PB “Bonnibel,” which is the princess’s middle name. Obscure, right? A bunch of fan favorite characters–Tree Trunks, Peppermint Butler, Cinnamon Bun, and others–make brief cameo appearances that made me happy. This was a cute first issue, and the song at the end made my day.

#2: We follow Marceline and her band as they embark on their first ever tour. PB is their manager and none too happy about the state of their affairs. She does her best to help promote Marceline, but Marcy’s just a little…prickly. It was fun to see obscure-ish music references (after they meet a record executive, Keila says, “I’ve got the CBGBs!”) as well. But what this series really seems to be about is acceptance. Everyone in the comic has some self-esteem issues and they’re worked out along the way. I think that’s part of what the show is about: being yourself and not caring what others think. The little story at the end was cute too.

#3: In this one, we see Lumpy Space Princess, who I love and adore beyond reason, and Marceline gets a taste of criticism. Marceline is all fast burning emotion; anger is so easy for her, plus she’s insecure, though she’d never come out and say it. PB seems to get a little love interest, but some lycanthropy might stand in their way (plus who doesn’t ship PB with Finn?). Marceline is very deeply offended/hurt by the negative review, and she reacts by leaving the band. There is a lovely Earl of Lemongrab story at the end, who is always a crowd-pleaser.

#4: It turns out that Marceline hasn’t quit the band after all, but her bad attitude remains! The drawing in this one is gorgeous, probably because the kingdom they’re visiting is underwater and I love mermaids. The romance between Guy and PB continues to be funny (to me anyway), because no one talks about it. We also get some insights into PB, who misses home, and a little story about Peppermint Butler (and the Ice King) at the end! This was my favorite of the series.

#5: This one bring us to Marceline’s hometown, the Nightosphere. She is especially insecure and uncomfortable here, even though her performances seem to go really well. PB is fed up and has to leave, but not before telling Marceline that the tour changed PB’s life. This is sort of a mini look at Marceline — her roots, the environment she’s used to, the people she knows. It’s pretty horrible there, as anyone who watches the show knows. As PB and Tree Trunks woefully leave the Nightosphere, Marceline is contemplating scaling back and moving home.

#6: Here we are at the end of the PB and Marceline friendship adventure! Bubblegum has some truly great hair in this one. One thing that sets Adventure Time apart as a show is that the characters tend to change, especially the women. Marceline and PB change their outfits regularly. Marceline, meanwhile, is completely losing her mind onstage at the Scream Queens’ farewell show. Bubblegum saves the day in a sort of heartwarming-for-them moment, and LSP makes a typical and hilarious appearance to round the whole thing out.

The art in these is lovely, and I liked how there were different covers and different interpretations of our leading ladies. As usual with PB and Marceline, this is a story about competing priorities and a strained friendship, with little dashes of low self-esteem here and there. The stories at the end of the comics were about usually unrelated Adventure Time characters, and they were pretty much universally great, though as I mentioned above, Peppermint Butler wins. There isn’t as much depth here as there is in the show, but I’m not sure it’s meant to, and you certainly can’t expect one medium to express things in the exact same ways as another. I liked these. I had a fun romp, and it’s always cool when they add a little bit more backstory to the mysterious land of Ooo.

*As an unrelated aside, I am suffering from the worst book burnout I have ever experienced, resulting in me reading a quarter of a book then throwing it down in disgust and disinterest over and over. I am particularly burnt out on YA supernatural novels and their romances (I blame Untold). I am trying to remedy this by reading adult urban fantasy, adult mystery, YA contemporary, and a ton of comics/graphic novels. I’m also playing a ton of the Sims 3. In the meantime, reviews from me might be slow-ish. Don’t worry though. I’m still here 🙂