Adventure Time: The Beginning of the End
Ted Anderson (writer), Whitney Cogar (colorist), Marina Julia (artist)
October 23rd, 2018
When this miniseries first started coming out in May, several months in advance of the long-scheduled Adventure Time series finale, I knew it was going to be an emotional ride. With a title like The Beginning of the End, it definitely felt like it was going to be a send-off. And that’s exactly what it is, in its own special Adventure Time way.
So what is The Beginning of the End actually about? Well, when Finn accidentally breaks a time oath he didn’t realize he made, he gets pulled into the fourth dimension as punishment. Even worse, his fate is that he’ll be “removed from time” and all his heroic deeds will be undone, leaving Ooo in peril! Meanwhile, while Finn is busy having existential realizations about his life, Princess Bubblegum is enlisting help from the citizens of Ooo to build a time machine that can send Jake into the fourth dimension to find his brother and bring him back!
The story is good enough on its own, but it’s also the perfect vessel for the real appeal of this comic to diehard fans: everyone is in it. EVERYONE. Fan favorites, background characters from season one, you name it. Everyone who’s “active” in Ooo is part of the campaign to help Bubblegum build her time machine to help Finn—but even characters who aren’t around anymore, because they’re dead or corrupted or far away, get to make appearances due to the time travel-y nature of the story and the time echoes that Finn encounters. The attention to detail is astounding. Every time I read it, I notice cute new things happening in the background. The creative team really loves this franchise and it shows in every page.
The art is adorable and the colors are impeccable, as is always the case with the Adventure Time franchise. Marina Julia’s art is a little stylistically different than what I’m used to from the show, but it’s very cute. (I’m particularly fond of Bubblegum wearing her oversized pajamas and big, round glasses.) Julia is also the artist for the new comic arc, Season 11, so it seems like this is the art style we should be getting used to and I’m all for it!
I was hoping for some good bonus content in the trade paperback, since the miniseries was only three issues long, and it delivered better bonus content than I ever dreamed: an entire extra issue! That’s right, this series is now four issues long, with the last one being an exclusive to this softcover version. While the story read perfectly well before, the extra chapter is an exciting romp through Adventure Time’s past, both recent and distant, that’s not to be missed. Since the bonus chapter is new, not seeing a release before the finale, it’s a particularly special glimpse at some fan favorite characters: Lemonhope, Patience St. Pim, young Marceline and Simon, and others!
Part of the appeal of Adventure Time is its ability to be cute and philosophical at the same time, and this arc leans particularly hard into the philosophical themes—which feels appropriate, given its timeliness with the end of the series. It spends some quality time exploring what it means to be a hero. Is it heroic deeds, or is there an intrinsic heroic quality inside some people? Is it even helpful to categorize yourself in that way and cling to those labels?
The essential theme of The Beginning of the End seems to be: things end, but that’s okay. Life is filled with limitless possibilities. You have to accept that other things will have to end to make room for them, but your past continues to be an important part of you. These issues originally came out before the finale aired and it’s obvious what they’re getting at, but it’s still just as relevant now as I’m still feeling the loss of my favorite show. All of the philosophical threads resolve into a reassuring power chord of good feelings—and it’s comforting to know that Adventure Time will always be there for me to go back to.