Adventure Time is, on average, not drawn to be scary.
I said on AVERAGE.
So my expectations of the Adventure Time 2017 Spooktacular were more “spoopy” than scary. I was pleasantly surprised to find a good balance of cute, creepy, and downright nightmarish.
This particular volume contains stories that focus on Peppermint Butler and his occultish shenanigans. As in Adam Cesare’s and Christine Laren’s short Morning Ritual, the first story in this issue, Pep But and his dark wizardry have been treated more like a running joke in the series than a real storyline (except for the Peace Master episode), so it’s interesting to see it take center stage.
Ironically, one of the scenes that will really throw readers off comes at the end of a story that barely features Peppermint Butler until the very end, when Jake and Finn sell him their souls so that he’ll make a couple of magicians quit bothering them. The brief glimpse we get of a future in which Ooo has become a horrifying hellscape with Peppermint Butler ruling over all is an unexpected twist ending to a silly story, but it’s also disquieting. Writer Grady Hendrix and artist Silmm Fabert really nailed that dissonance AT can bring on sometimes when they mix their cartoony world with the horrifying implications of a post-apocalyptic world of secrets, magic, and parallel dimensions.
We also see another instance of Pep But showing that he’s not one to be messed with when he winds up taking refuge in a strange house during a storm- a house where lives someone who has always wondered what it was like, centuries and centuries ago, when candy was gobbled up by human children. That segment, written by Chris Lackey and illustrated by Kate Sherron, has a definite Hannibal Lecter vibe that gave me goosebumps- even if it was about someone trying to eat a peppermint (well, he’s a sentient peppermint).
On the non-creepy side, we also see the Fionna/Cake version of Peppermint Butler, Butterscotch Butler, in a slightly more mellow caper that has a lot of Marshall Lee X Gumball for all your shipping needs. Written by Alyssa Wang and illustrated by Heather Danforth, this is a refreshing little rom-com in the midst of the spooks and spectres.
Although Halloween has come and gone, if you’re still hungry for a taste of the season, the 2017 Spooktacular makes for good read.