Time and Adventure Time

adventuretime8One of the ideas behind time travel is wish fulfillment, or the ability to answer the question what if? In working within a what if scenario, writers often use time travel as a way to go back into the past to fix a mistake within ones own timeline or the timeline of a culture. But what about pushing the what if scenario to the future…from the future? This is what the first story in Adventure Time #8 by Ryan North explores.

Self Fulfilling Prophecy as Time Travel
The future is usually a pretty bleak place. That bleakness is represented either in a dystopian fashion (e.g. Terminator, 1984, etc.), or as a fascist utopia (Fahrenheit 451, The Time Machine)…regardless we always like to envision the future as where we pretty much blew it as a species. Adventure Time as an animated show and a comic both function in a future that is dystopian– a wasteland of mutants, creatures and a lone human boy named Finn. For this initial story in issue eight, writer Ryan North propels the characters of Finn the human, Jake the dog, and Princess Bubblegum into a further, bleaker future where the land is now being overrun by robots and cyborgs, and the few heroes left are fighting for the survival of the candy kingdom. The trio become pinned in, and are left with what seems no more options….until Finn suggests:

“This may sound like cheating, but, well–why don’t we just invent a machine to send us back in time so we can prevent this from happening in the first place?”

Princess Bubblegum points out that attempts at time machines have been made, but unsuccessful. This is where Finn makes his stroke of genius regarding time machines and wish fulfillment:“Yeah, but that’s the thing! You’ve been trying to get them to work […] Maybe you’ll figure it out 30 years from now! Let future me and future you and future Jake do the heavy lifting. They’ve got all the time in the world”.

The trio then go about the simple task of making positive statements, such as “Jake, Bubblegum: I swear we’ll escape from here and I’ll spend the rest of my days working on a time machine”. A few moments later, after some more positivity, the machine appears, with a note from “future old man Jake”.  Jake and Finn take off, and we are left with a “to be continued”.

North does not complicate the concept of time travel, instead uses the simple idea that the most important part of wish fulfillment, and changing ones destiny, to answer the what if question, is as simple as making up ones own mind that they are going to do something. This is what I like to think of as “futurecasting”, a way of time travel by communicating with the future through the ideas of a present (or in the case of this issue, the future #1) state of mind. Is it just self-fulfilling prophecy? Sure, but I for one rather enjoy the idea that the power of positive thinking can eventually help us to figure out some of our problems, both real and imaginary.