REVIEW: Fiona and Cake – Card Wars #1

Author: Jen Wang
Artist: Britt Wilson
Publisher: Kaboom Studios

For anyone familiar with Adventure Time but not familiar with Fiona and Cake, this duo exists in a gender-reversed version of the Land of Ooo. Every character from the original incarnation of the series has a gender-swapped counterpart in this reality, except for the Ice King, who remains male. Except for sometimes when there is a female version of the Ice King (The Ice Queen). It all kind of depends on how the Ice King is feeling I guess, since this reality is his (sometimes collaborative) fan fiction, canonically. If you’re not familiar with Adventure Time… I’m not really sure how to explain to you what’s going on. There’s an adventurer girl and her shape-shifting sister-cat, and they go on quests in a magical world.

Card Wars #1 sees both the Ice King and Cake yearning for friends and competitive opponents to play the titular fantasy card game with. The game itself is a riff on Magic the Gathering (as best as I can tell), and so the story brings in a few familiar stereotypes regarding fans of such card games. The plot is very simplistic. This is, after all (usually?) a children’s comic based on a (usually…) children’s television show, despite what viewer demographics might tell you. There’s not exactly a lot to critique, but there’s not exactly a lot to brag on either. The comic does touch a bit on exclusion, particularly for girls and women in “geek culture,” though it is never blatantly revealed as such. I believe that this trend will continue into future issues, based on Fiona’s mentioning of making costumes for an upcoming festival and the current real-world issue of discrimination against cosplayers at pop culture conventions.

The art for Fiona and Cake is true to the television series: poppy, curvy, colorful, and visually appealing. It is heavily animated and expressive, occasionally bordering on absurdity, and fits the world well. However, there are no adventurous changes to the Adventure Time format worth mentioning. It would have been nice to at least see perhaps a bit of texturing, but the goal they were going for seemed to be staying as close to the animation of the television series as possible.

All in all, fans of the show will find no qualms with this comic, and should enjoy it. Younger children also are likely to find the simple story and bright visuals addictive. However, if you’re wanting to introduce someone to Adventure Time or Fiona and Cake for the first time, this is not the gateway you want to use. The over-the-top comedy that hooks older viewers/readers on Adventure Time is not present in full-force, and they’d be better off getting it elsewhere.

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