Finding out who you are as you grow up is an important journey, one that really never ends. Do you follow in your parents’ footsteps, do you follow your friends or do you carve an entirely different path?
Adventure Time: Playing With Fire, the first of the new series of Adventure Time manga-format graphic novels by Danielle Corsetto (of Girls With Slingshots) and Zack Sterling (who did covers for the Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors comics) to tackle the idea as Flame Princess fights against her nature to become the good person that she wants to be.
For those unfamiliar with the Adventure Time series, the book focuses on Flame Princess, the daughter of the evil Flame King. In the series she’s learning that her actions affect those around her and that the most direct way of solving problems — blasting them with her fiery powers — isn’t always the best method. She’s currently close friends Finn, the hero of the series, who she is interested in dating.
During a journey to the Carnival Kingdom, Finn, Jake the Dog and Flame Princes meet a mysterious dragon witch and trouble arises when Finn has his Finn-ness — the parts that make him noble and caring and good — stolen. Knowing that Finn is more than a body, Flame Princess has to team up with Jake to find a way to save her friend’s personality while confronting her own nature and the numerous puzzles placed in her way by the dragon witch. Whereas part of her wants to simply break through all of the puzzles, part of her realizes that isn’t how heroes are supposed to act. On the other hand, the issue of her being her own type of hero is problematic. If she is a princess who saves her friend, can’t she do it her own way?
The series does a wonderful job blending comedy in both the writing and the illustrations while making the story easy to follow for readers of all ages. The best example of this is the backup wordless BMO comic as he sets off on his own adventure. The one warning is that the hand-cursive lettering used for the dragon witch might be tough for some young kids, but for those in the third grade and beyond, the comic should be an easy enough read. Meanwhile, on the illustrative side of things, Sterling does an excellent job rendering the characters in a familiar style, and the entire world fits together.
I’d highly recommend the graphic novel, which is reasonably priced at $9.33, to fans of the Adventure Time series of all ages — though it is best for kids aged 8 and older. Despite being rendered in black-and-white, the comic does an excellent job of capturing the colorful spirit of the show, from its superficial comedic aspects to its deeper emotional levels.