Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb have been wowing comic book readers in the pages of Adventure Time since issue #1. Thus far in our time together, our main story arcs have seen Finn and Jake fight and defeat the Lich, travel through time to fight the future, and save their friend BMO (along with every other robot) from a terrible computer virus. But in between those exciting adventures, we've also gotten some wonderful stand alone stories, including meeting the totally math Adventure Tim and going on a Choose Your Own Adventure Time. Adventure Time #15 is yet another one-shot, and this time Finn and Jake have to deal with the pesky being known only as the Magic Man.
In this issue, our plucky heroes must contend with the great difficulty of losing their voices, and I don't mean that they've been yelling too much. No, within the first few pages of the story, that aforementioned Magic Man curses Finn and Jake so that they cannot talk. However, they are not completely silent, as the two are still able to express themselves through symbols appearing in their word balloons. Therefore, Finn, Jake, and the many princesses of Ooo must find a way to restore their regular powers of articulation.
There actually isn't much more to the issue beyond that, but that wonderful idea of speaking through images is used to incredibly clever effect here. The trick isn't what I'd call revolutionary, but it is nice to see some playful experimentation used to tell a charmingly engaging story. This is the kind of thing that wouldn't work in any medium besides comics, and we get lots of fun little moments, such as Finn and Jake's word balloons showing a person's rear end as a way to say "but" or their quaintly roundabout manner of expressing "Adventure Time", to name but a few.
North does a great job of making the whole thing feel very natural and readable, when the idea could have easily fallen apart during execution. It's a lot of fun to see the ways that the characters play with Finn and Jake's strange affliction, whether its in battle planning or sandwich making. And from a reader perspective, it's quite enjoyable to work through the images to find their pseudo-hidden meanings.
As always, kudos must be given to Paroline and Lamb, who do a terrific job on art duties. They pack this story with lots of wacky visuals both in the foreground and background that spice things up quite nicely. They also do a great job on character expressions for the many scenes of Finn and Jake "speaking" to each other with their unique iconography. Not to mention the task of developing a comprehensible and recognizable iconography in such a short space. There were no moments where I found myself unable to decipher what Finn and Jake were saying, which is an impressive accomplishment.
As is the custom of Adventure Time comics, this issue has a backup story, this one written and drawn by Jeremy Sorese. His style is quite exaggerated, telling a wild story of Finn and Jake searching for their friend BMO, while fighting off strange neverdowells in the sky. It's a fun, whimsical little story, although it suffers slight from feelings of repetition (as the last Adventure Time arc was also all about saving BMO) and being a tad rushed, as there are some poignant moments that don't really have enough time to cause any real impact. However, it is still a nice accompaniment to the most excellent main story by North and friends.
Verdict - Buy It. Adventure Time is continually one of the most fun comic books around. There's a reason why it was nominated for three Eisners, and this issue is a perfect example of that. Finn and Jake's unique dialogue is a welcome experiment at a time where so many comics are content to stay the course and do what they've always been doing. The fact that it fits so well into the overall narrative is icing on the cake.