Princess Luna -- before the Micro-Series ends and the new team-up title MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDS FOREVER begins. With Rob Anderson and Agnes Garbowska's SPIKE offering, we step back just a bit from the highs of the previous two issues featuring the Cutie Mark Crusaders and Princess Celestia. There are some admittedly funny moments here, but Garbowska's art harkens back to the "Colorforms approaches" of some of the earlier Micro issues, and the story isn't SO strong that it can overcome the weaknesses of the presentation.
** SPOILERS **
I must admit, I was surprised that an issue focusing on Spike did NOT have anything to do with his crush on Rarity. That would seem to be a logical hook for further development. Instead, Anderson takes a cue from the episodes "Dragon Quest" and "Just for Sidekicks." Having returned the baby Phoenix Peewee to its parents, Spike wants to burnish his parenting/pet-care-taking skills and buys some "Sea Beasts" (read: "Sea Monkeys") that were advertised in his DARING DO comic. (I thought that Daring Do was a character who appeared in novels, but whatever.) After absorbing the inevitable disappointment experienced by all those of us who actually invested in those "magical critters," Spike tries various means to make his pets grow, gliding over "small details" at every turn. The Beasts not only grow, they actually evolve, and Spike finds himself having a hard time keeping up with their evolution. After overhearing a conversation between a mother pony and her impatient foal, Spike decides to help his charges along in a more organized fashion, and the Beasts, with his assistance, ultimately mutate into a weird combination of sentient frogs, Hare Krishnas, and the Little Green Men from the Toy Story movies. Alas, Spike must let them go into the world to seek further "enlightenment." But he HAS earned his pet-care-taking spurs.
I'm told that The Simpsons and Futurama did plots similar to this, which wouldn't surprise me at all. The MLP version is OK, though the Beasts' growing legs immediately after leaving Spike's aquarium was a bit much (and that certainly wasn't the only suspiciously convenient moment in the story). Spike's lack of patience and carelessness are a major focus here, but, just as the Beasts grow and evolve during the story, so too does the baby dragon "evolve" in the sense that he learns something about accepting responsibility above and beyond taking care of Twilight Sparkle's bibliographical needs and keeping the library clean. The slightly clunky art, unfortunately, undercuts the impact of the Beasts' growth.