Writer Ryan North brings Finn and Jake's buddy time travel adventure to a smooth ending in "Adventure Time" #9 with art by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb.
Like most time travel stories, the mechanics are a little iffy and ridiculous, and our young-but-now-old heroes have some details to sort out after saving the day, but all is solved when Princess Bubblegum applies some "semiliquid science" as a deux ex machina solution to their troubles. It's both funny and subversive how many of the female characters in "Adventure Time" are princesses, yet they're also all into science. Plus, Finn likes math so much that he uses it as a general positive adjective for everything. I see what you're doing, "Adventure Time." Carry on brainwashing the young!
North's dialogue is goofy and enjoyable, with the characters saying things like, "Double Nice!" and "Please will you drop some science all over our business?" Also, North's pale green footnotes at the bottom of almost every page are a great bonus, with useful information like "making sure your programs don't turn evil is totes the hardest part" or references to previous comics or TV episodes.
At the end of "Adventure Time" #9, the purpose of the video game that Finn and Jake end up playing in BMO at the story's end is an excellent joke. Details like these make "Adventure Time" a fun comic for adults as well as kids.
Paroline and Lamb's art is clean and cute with no shading and leaves room for Lamb and Lisa Moore's cheerful, flat colors. Paroline and Lamb are good with body language, especially for Jake. After a slight time travel miscalculation, Jake's slumped posture and wrinkled brow show his dejection, and his eyebrows are more expressive than Finn's.
Paroline and Lamb also make good use of Jake's body-stretching powers, showing his arms or torso expanding every few panels. Also, the age wrinkles that they add to distinguish Older Future Jake from Young Present Jake are hilarious, especially because Older Finn has a pumped-up cyborg body and looks very different from Young Finn.
The seven-page backup story, "Fishsling," by Shane and Chris Houghton, is a twist on the "guys going fishing" template, and the panel with Finn and Jake's faces clenched in anticipation of "Super Intense Fishing" is funny. However, the fish in this story are truly freaky and terrifying looking, with lumpy bodies, wide mouths full of teeth and angry faces. Also, the fish keep on eating each other even out of the water, and they fit like nesting Matryoshka dolls after ingesting each other.
The resulting panel after Finn and Jake get temporarily ingested is cool-looking, but also sinister and gruesome, with the cross-section shot of the nested digestive tracts, mouths and brains. I think my ten-year old self might have had nightmares, or at least have been grossed out. Even now, it's mildly shudder-inducing, especially since the dead fishes regurgitate each other and then are spiked onto barbecue spits. It's enough to make a person swear off sushi. The mechanics of the story are imaginative, but the imagery may not be a great idea for anyone squeamish.
However, the back-up stories generally are a great feature of "Adventure Time," and the series as a whole continues to have distinctive, funny dialogue and a variety of engaging characters and unpredictable fantasy adventures.