Oh hi, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing posting a review for an old issue of a comic. You see, I’ve decided that it’s time to save all of my reviews from my time at PopOptiq from the website that is just a hollow shell of its former self. Y’see, when the website changed EICs a little more than a year ago, the new editor decided he wanted to make the website more like Buzzfeed and then proceeded to fire most of the staff. He then also claimed copyright ownership of our work.
Well, I know I never signed a contract with you or the previous EIC that said that was okay and my name is on the byline, so…
Written by Kate Leth
Illustrated by Bridget Underwood with Drew Green & Vaughn Pinpin
Inks by Jenna Ayoub
Colors by Lisa Moore
Letters by Aubrey Aiese
Published by BOOM! Studios
Past all of the strange universe building and drama of Adventure Time, the franchise has always been about one central thing: friends having awesome adventures with friends. The comics have done a good job of keeping this theme up as well, especially in the original graphic novels that come out a few times a year.
The latest one, Masked Mayhem, is the third one written by Kate Leth. Where her previous outings in Ooo focused on Marceline and Bubblegum respectively, this one follows BMO. Spoiler alert: it’s adorable.
Masked Mayhem follows BMO and Jake (who was also the sidekick in Leth’s first OGN Seeing Red) as they travel around Ooo on Masquerade Day, a holiday not unlike modern Halloween. Basically, everyone in Ooo dresses up, has a party and makes treats for all of their friends. Along their route to Princess Bubblegum’s party in the Candy Kingdom though, every party Jake and BMO go to gets pranked. Deciding to take matters into their own hands like they did in “BMO Noire,” BMO decides they’re going to solve the case!
Let’s not cut corners about this: Masked Mayhem is flippin’ adorable. By making BMO the main character, it allows the readers to see the world of Ooo through a new set of eyes. Leth’s voice for BMO is pitch-perfect, filled with just the right amount of wonder, curiosity and enthusiasm that they regularly have. Plus, the scenes with Detective BMO recall so well to “BMO Noire” that it’s a bit of a shame that the art doesn’t change to the black and white style like it did in that episode. Her voice for Lumpy Space Princess is also on point, even with LSP turning into Stefon for two seconds at her own party. Which is weirdly perfect in it’s own way.
Departing from the crisp and warm style of Zachary Sterling and Whitney Cogar’s art on Bitter Sweets, Underwood, Ayoub, and Moore opt for a style closer to that of the show while still having their own fun with character designs. Everyone’s costumes are absolutely darling (Especially Marceline’s Janelle Monaé-esque vampire and Bubblegum as the Golden Ratio.), and the design for the new character Rosemary is weirdly terrifying and charming. Moore’s colors for the OGN are vibrant, but also give a nice lived in feeling to the world. Which is appropriate for a story about visiting old friends. While the brown coloring for the crowd in the resolution scenes feels like a weird contrast compared to the brightly colored universe of the Candy Kingdom, it’s only a minor hangup compared to how the rest of the coloring shines through.
The resolution to the story may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but the mystery of the pranks isn’t what the story is about. It’s about friendship. From BMO and Jake’s central party-hopping adventure to Lumpy Space Princess and Melissa setting aside their differences and supporting each other to Marceline reminding Bubblegum to just let the people have fun at the party, the relationships in Masked Mayhem are the core of the story. As it should be with any good Adventure Time story.
Delightful for readers of any age, Masked Mayhem is a fun and adorable read set in the Adventure Timeuniverse. With Leth’s absolutely charming BMO as the central character and the darling art from Underwood, Ayoub, and Moore, this costumed party hopping adventure is one part mystery and three parts a reminder that friendship is mathematical.