Sunday, August 11, 2013

Comics Reviews: MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #5 - #8 (IDW Publishing, March-June 2013)

Nicky and I attended the last day of BronyCon last Sunday, and I'll have a write-up of the experience on the blog sometime tomorrow.  In the interim, it's time to catch up on the second four-issue story arc of the popular MLP comic title, known to all as... well, um, *blank*.  That's right, the arc doesn't have an "overarcing" title of any sort. I'm calling it "The Nightmare Rarity Mash-Up Moonfest" for reasons which will soon become clear.


IDW assigned what would seem to be its MLP "B" team -- writer Heather Kuhfer and artist Amy Mebberson -- to this arc.  All things considered, they perform almost as well as "A" listers Katie Cook and Andy Price, but I was nonetheless disappointed to see that they fell back on the first arc's basic premise of an old enemy coming back to menace the ponies.  This time, it's "The Nightmare Forces" that possessed Princess Luna in the two-part pilot episode of the TV series.  Now, waitasec:  I recall that Luna became Nightmare Moon because she was so bitter over being forced to make way for Princess Celestia and the dawn.  That is, her (temporary) downfall was self-inflicted.  As a result, the reprieved Princess Luna comes across as something of a star- (or moon-) crossed figure, capable of great evil as well as great good.  Pinning the blame for her corruption on nebulous "Nightmare Forces" would seem to be missing the point.  Anyway, after intimidating the "Mane 6" with visions of their worst nightmares (and no, neither giant bananas nor limo monsters play a role in the mental attack), the "Forces" carry Rarity off to the "Nightmare Dreamscape" on the Moon.  I suppose that it does make reasonable sense for the nebulous goonies to try to turn the most conceited of the "Mane 6" into an empress of darkness...

Proof positive that the "Earth" on which the events of MLP:FIM take place is definitely not "our" Earth: In order to reach the Moon and help Rarity, Princesses Luna and Celestia and Twilight Sparkle use their magic to pull the Moon closer to the Earth, then attach a rope between the two bodies to help the non-flyers reach the Moon.  Worldwide tidal chaos?  Lack of air in space?  Mere "bags of shells" in the "ponal" scheme of things.  (Needless to say, the Moon is back in its normal location when the "Nightmare Forces" begin their invasion of Ponyville later in the arc.)  Adding to the verisimilitude, the Moon harbors native creatures that the "Nightmare Forces" have turned into evil smog monsters for the duration.  We get more "facings of fears" and a dramatic reveal of "Nightmare Rarity" ("Nightmarity"?) on the last page.  Fittingly, Luna still expresses worry at the prospect of slipping back into her "Nightmare Moon" persona, a return to the "flawed titan" characterization that was mucked up a bit in issue #5.

Spike gets a good chunk of attention in this issue as he attempts to rescue Rarity, only to be tempted by a vision of ruling at "Nightmarity"'s side.  (As far as I am aware, no one has ever commented on the sheer weirdness of the notion of a "baby dragon" harboring a major lech for a pony.)  The rest of the "Mane 6" get thrown into the dungeons by the smog monsters and react pretty much as you would expect: Fluttershy makes friends with a hideous little Moon creature, Pinkie Pie engages in pointless wiggling, Rainbow Dash bitches a lot, etc.  But without Rarity around to complete the "Elements of Harmony," how are they going to fight back effectively?

Here's how: Spike resists temptation, Pinkie Pie materializes a dungeon key out of her mane (huh??), and the "Mane 6 minus 1" manufacture enough "friendship power" to convince some of the smog monsters to help them.  Back in Ponyville, the gang convinces the invading "Nightmarity" that she doesn't need to worry about being forsaken by her friends (actually, this is a reasonable "greatest fear" for a character who can sometimes get a bit full of herself), and Rarity disentagles herself from the forces of evil.  Fittingly, Spike provides the killing blow of kindness.  Given that the "Nightmare Forces" aren't destroyed so much as brushed aside with the power of love, I don't doubt that they will be back to menace Luna and Ponyville again.

Not as good as the "Return of Queen Chrysalis," but certainly a decent read.  I would like to see a little more originality of thought in the basic plots, however.  Issues #9 and #10 are reportedly going to be something of a departure from what we've gotten so far.  We shall see.

1 comment:

Pan Miluś said...

Yhe! This is the comic book I got last week and I must say while the "Retun of Chrysalis" had plenty of incredebly funy and creative moments, this one was just "ok". Some great "nightmare clouds" desings but storywise nothing that memorable and the last chapter felt overly-moralizing (I get it's for kids, but this is just rubbing it in) The best part was Spike rejecting fake Rarity sequence and I like the idea of Nightmare Moon returning by taking over some other pony. It's a bit like the Symbiot from Spider-man. I would love to see Nightmare Moon versions of Pinky Pie or Applejack ;)

Overall if not for all the cool art I would propably found this book to be "Meh". [Also - was the whole Pinky story about her and Rarity in the hot bath was ment to be a fart joke? Eeeew... I hate those :( ]

I will have the "Pony Tales vol 1" by the end of this week (My Little Pony comics dosen't come out in Poland so I'm ordering them in my local comic book shop) and I hopeing it will be much better. I've seen the pages from "Rarity meet's the hippie Ponies" on your blog and it looks hilarious :D