Even after nearly seven years of running on television, Adventure Time never ceases to amaze me with its eclectic ensemble of characters. The colorful cast filled with different personalities guarantees that you’ll have a favorite of the bunch. I for one adore Lumpy Space Princess, an egotistical yet comical valley girl type who brings the laughs whenever she’s on-screen. It comes as no surprise that Adventure Time’s most recent original graphic novel, Brain Robbers, pairs her up with one of my favorite minor characters, Tree Trunks, for some buddy road trip antics.
Brain Robbers kicks off as main characters Finn, Jake, and BMO unsuccessfully put Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig’s adoptive son Sweet P to bed. Being one of the evilest characters in the universe reincarnated into an innocent child, Sweet P ends up destroying the residence, much to Tree Trunks’ chagrin. As she wonders how she can repair the house, Lumpy Space Princess pulls her aside and tells her of a secret treasure that is guarded by two zombie twins. Reluctant to go but desperate for money, Tree Trunks agrees to head on a journey to secure this treasure to pay for the house.
Within the b-story, Finn, Jake, and BMO are concerned that the duo may fall into danger (especially since Tree Trunks is a somewhat senile elephant with a penchant for getting into sticky situations). The three agree to follow them, but an accident causes Finn to lose his brain to the zombie twins, while Jake and BMO frantically try and get it back. While the stories don’t converge until the end of the graphic novel, the actions of both plots directly affect one another.
The great thing about the Adventure Time comic adaptations is how the writers can get the voices of the characters right. Throughout Brain Robbers, the characterizations of Lumpy Space Princess and Tree Trunks were spot-on, and their personalities created a great foil to each other. Whereas Lumpy Space Princess is a girl who only has her eyes set to personal gain, Tree Trunks’ motivation for the journey is one that is selfless and caring for everyone involved. Oddly enough, the latter gets to be a little more action-oriented compared to her television role, since her sleuthing past catches up to her. It’s a really refreshing story that highlights both comic relief moments as well as a good old buddy road trip.
In fact, it’s because of both characters’ murky pasts that the story really takes off; Lumpy Space Princess gets into her usual antics with old flames and nonexistent drama, and here the payoff works pretty well. In fact, this is a plot point in the middle of the graphic novel, and the wild western parody is sure to elicit some chuckles. The ghosts of past actions constantly haunt Tree Trunks, which is portrayed in a comedic and serious light, but it doesn’t detract from her innocently senile character. I always liked the adventurous, if ineffectual, side of her personality, and if anything, Brain Robbers embraces rather than shuns it. The chemistry of both characters works super well in this graphic novel, and I really wouldn’t mind seeing more of the two characters working together in future episodes or comics.
On the other hand, you have the subplot with the main trio, and that’s a bit uneven. Due to Finn being incapacitated for most of the experience, there isn’t a lot of back-and-forth going between him and Jake. This, unfortunately, puts a damper on the boy and dog duo, as it would have been better to make Finn blissfully unaware of his surroundings rather than mostly unconscious. BMO, however, gets quite a lot of scenes in the b-story, which is great because those scenes highlight BMO as a comedic foil to the more serious situation of Finn’s lack of brain slowly turning him into a grotesque caricature of himself.
The art is the same Adventure Time comic style you know and love, and the pace of the script feels like you’re watching a double-length episode of the show. While it’s a mostly lighthearted romp with some of the more somber elements being parodies of themselves (like the unrequited love of a random rival or a fight breaking out in a saloon), there are darker elements at play, especially when it comes to Sweet P and some of Tree Trunks’ reservations with her mission. It’s a juxtaposition that fits well with the current seasons of the show, but it can be a tad overbearing and ruin the fun at times.