Monday, July 15, 2024

Marceline Gone Adrift is a femslasher’s dream

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That’s right: it’s yet another installment of “Kylie lets a vampire bassist and a wad of gum ruin her life.” This time, a special comic edition! When we last left off, I had expressed my frustration with Adventure Time for seemingly letting Marceline Abadeer and Princess Bubblegum begin a romantic relationship (or more accurately: restart a heavily alluded to but never fully confirmed relationship) off-screen. Seriously though, over the course of Season 7, Bubbline has gone from subtext to completely 100% non-ambiguous-literally-the-only-thing-we-haven’t-seen-is-a-present-day-kiss, which is why I’ve decided to make the call: it is canon.

I will say though, engaging in the Bubbline fandom is a fascinating study in terms of where people fall on the queerbaiting spectrum with it. I’ve spoken before that in my view, Adventure Time has always treated Marcy and PB’s story with a sincerity and sensitivity that feels far more validating than exploitative. As a result, I firmly believe that if the perceived network barriers were different, we’d have had a kiss and them calling each other “girlfriend.”

Well then.

These two have made me struggle so much with what to even conceive of as “subtext.” It feels like “enough” to me — completely obvious and wonderfully scripted — until I remind myself of Finn and the Flame Princess’s on-screen smooching. It isn’t fair, you know? But the Bubbline dynamic is just so dang compelling that I can’t help but feel completely won over (aka emotionally destroyed) by it. That is why presently, they are dating and I won’t hear otherwise.

The thing is, I *think* the Adventure Time staff might agree with me, at least somewhat. Because the six-volume graphic novel “Marceline Gone Adrift,” penned by Meredith Gran, is perhaps one of the most romantic, tropey, angsty love stories I have ever read.

I just realized that my title may sound like an oversell given that “femslash” is often evoked in the world of fanfic, and thus might carry some inherently sexy connotation. So when I say this comic is a “femslasher’s dream,” I should be clear on one thing: Marcy and PB do not kiss in this, and there is not 100% reddit-would-accept-this-source confirmation that these two women are romantically involved. However, to deny it you would have to be a total dillweed.

No, what I mean by this glowing comic recommendation here is that in terms of the emotional arcs of Marcy and PB, it is validating, unambiguous, and just downright cute.

Also, it’s going to turn you into a puddle of feels. Or maybe it’s just me, because Bonnie is my aesthetic personified in this. Her entire plotline is about the intersection of the personal and the political, when in a moment of crises, she prioritizes the needs of her people and rockets Marcy into space with no ability to get her back (it’s complicated…Marcy was about to blow everything up after she was hit with some weird current-thing that was beyond her control). I know what this sounds like, but keep in mind that Adventure Time is the series that made us emotionally compromised in an episode where this dude:


Anyway, her spur of the moment decision that placed the needs of the many over the needs of the few (her MO), leaves her a bit emotionally distraught.

Like…moping around in a mourning hoodie and blaming herself distraught.

And then the best thing ever happens: she begins flashing back to her obviously romantic relationship with Marcy and how her tendency to place work over everything else left her a sad, empty-shell of a person a few thousand years ago too (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧!!

Peebs, you dingus, she just wants to know that you’re going to miss her

So as a result, we the reader get hit with angst from two directions: Peebs beating herself up for her present day choices that resulted in Marcy being jettisoned into space (instead of…letting her blow things up??), and Peebs beating herself up for her past choices where she pushed Marcy away by burying herself in work and not allowing herself to be emotionally vulnerable.

Then the princess decides the only course of action is to freakin’ invent space travel, build a rocket, and negotiate with a group of space-dwelling sentient leaves who have been personally trolling her for their more advanced space-travel tech, all to save Marcy.

No really, she runs around calling this an “emotionally wrought” mission and puts herself in some very questionable situations to accomplish her goal.

Marcy, meanwhile, spends her time in space being pissed off at PB.

Her arc is a little bizarre: back in the Land of Ooo she was feeling as though she had lost her musical groove because she hadn’t had any new experiences lately. Then she gets struck with a current out of the blue. Once in space, she gets quasi taken-in by weird dog-like things that are really friendly and spend their days farming colors and sparks. She’s able to contribute to their thriving economy by playing a guitar which while noise-less (there’s no air), makes for a pleasing colorful goo show:

The whole thing gets into her general sense of purposelessness that Adventure Time-proper fully tackled in the “Stakes” mini-series. And of course her anger towards PB ties into where she sees her place in the world(s) and how she navigates this new situation.

Then Bonnie finds her.

I actually don’t want to spoil how this resolves itself, but trust me when I say it’s quite compelling and squee-worthy. These two kind of need each other…

Oh yeah, Finn also exists and does some stuff and it’s enjoyable.

The only negative, if you can call it that, is that “Marceline Gone Adrift” is difficult to reconcile into the Adventure Time show timeline. I understand that these comics aren’t *quite* canon, though the character scripting is spot on unlike some of ATLA’s wonkyness. This specific graphic novel was released last year, though despite that, I feel like you could still treat it as a supplementary story in between “Stakes” and “Broke His Crown.” However, if you choose to do so, Marceline’s scripting feels a little regressive after what she went through there. It doesn’t break it, but it’s noticeable. Yet this story really doesn’t make sense to have happened before “Varmints,” since that would make the end conversation of that episode very regressive. And of course it can’t take place in between “Varmints” and “Stakes” because PB is ruling the Candy Kingdom in the comic. I haven’t thought about this too much…

In general, read it, get destroyed, and come on over to team #bubblineiscanon. We shouldn’t settle for crumbs, but even in absence of a kiss, this comic is quite filling.

Images courtesy of KaBOOM! Studios and Cartoon Network

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