Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Comics Review: MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #9-#10 (July-August 2013, IDW Publishing)
If you're interested in hopping on board this fine title, be warned: These are not the issues you should pick up first. After a pair of four-part adventure arcs that would be reasonably comprehensible to anyone with a basic knowledge of the TV series' "key" episodes, writer Katie Cook and artist Andy Price dish up several heaping helpings of "fanservice" (G-rated, non-titillation division) here, loading a whole bunch of background pony characters into a "story" centering on Applejack's brother Big Macintosh trying to get to a hardware store to buy some nails, only to run into Ponyville's "Summer Wrap-Up" Festival.
I will have to admit, I'm not so "into" MLP: FIM that I obsess over the show's fringe characters (some of whom were created and/or named by fans and then adopted by the show itself). I was able to recognize most of the puppies featured here, but certainly not all of them. The "Mane 6" characters make only token appearances. The Cutie Mark Crusaders fare a little better, at least in theory, making several "explosive" attempts to earn their cutie marks in pyrotechnics. I must say that I'm not entirely enamored of the way Cook and Price handled the CMC in both this circumstance and "The Return of Queen Chrysalis". To be perfectly frank, half of the time the girls are annoying (while captive, they nearly drive Chrysalis crazy), and the other half of the time they're pretty stupid (poor Sweetie Belle comes across as a particular ditz, with her pals Scootaloo and Apple Bloom frequently rolling their eyes at her remarks and suggestions). The whole idea of the CMC is that the audience should be rooting for them to discover their true callings in life. This is an inherently unstable idea at the best of times, since the more times the girls try and fail to earn their marks, the closer they come to seeming like legitimate losers. The better TV episodes manage to finesse things successfully enough to avoid falling into this trap, but the manner in which Cook and Price characterize the CMC only serves to exacerbate the problem, at least in my view.
The funniest bit in these two issues occurs when Princess Celestia's sister Princess Luna dragoons the hapless Big Mac into participating with her in various competitive activities. You really have to have seen the episode "Luna Eclipsed" in order to fully appreciate the persona that Luna projects, but the sequence is still amusing even if you haven't. In order to get more out of the issues, you need to saturate yourself in more than a few TV episodes. Great stuff for the committed fans of the show, but forbidding going for the "civilians" out there.