Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Comics Review: MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDS FOREVER #7 (July 2014, IDW Publishing)
** SPOILERS **
Princess Luna and Pinkie Pie -- with a modest assist from Twilight Sparkle -- are this issue's "Duo of Doom," and they make a remarkably good team, as Jeremy Whitley's plot veers in an unexpectedly sober direction about two-thirds of the way through. A highly improbable, hitherto non-canonical (and I rather think it's going to stay that way) "Canterlot royal tradition" sets the whole shebang up. Still concerned that the denizens of Equestria aren't comfortable with her because of her "thousand-year bitch" as the evil Nightmare Moon, Luna gets the idea of participating in "Chuckle-lot," a ceremony initiated by Princess Celestia to figuratively "let down her mane" (even more than it already is, I should say) and show her subjects what a salt-of-Equestria, regular-pony clown she can be. (This includes smashing a watermelon with a mallet.) After Twilight fails in literally teaching Luna all there is to know about comedy, Pinkie steps in with a more... applied approach. The problem is that the somewhat haughty Luna can't actually stand the idea of other ponies laughing at her and wants whatever material she can work up to be performed by Celestia. In a shockingly mature moment, Pinkie slaps Luna down hard for this, insisting that Luna should be the performer, and the two actually have an argument. THIS is what I have been hoping to see in these FRIENDS FOREVER teamups -- previously-unseen pairings that explore the differences, as well as the similarities, between the characters involved. We haven't really gotten this before apart from some occasional slight bickering. Here, with Pinkie having walked out on her, Luna is forced to figure things out for herself, and she manages to show that she's learned her lesson... though the actual execution of the proof contains a twist or two, including a bit of belated revenge (if that's the word) on Pinkie.
Whitley writes Luna and Pinkie extremely well and has a lot of fun displaying the obvious contrasts between them. In an amusing moment, Pinkie even proves to have her own version of Luna's forbidding "Royal Canterlot Voice." I don't know whether I should be pleased or worried by the return of the slightly-insane Pinkie's "imaginary friends" from the first-season episode "Party of One." The idea behind their original appearance was that Pinkie was pretending that they were substituting for the rest of the "Mane 6," who had supposedly "abandoned" her. Ergo, they were a product of a mental delusion and shouldn't have been employed by a "normal" Pinkie. Perhaps Pinkie has a different idea of "nostalgia" than I do. For her part, Whitley's Luna is a little less volatile and loopy than she was in, say, MICRO-SERIES #10, but a sterner approach is certainly in character as well. (As I've said before, Luna has a habit of acting a bit different in every appearance that she makes, which can be a good, as well as a bad, thing.) Tony Fleecs' artwork continues to improve in terms of both smoothness and figure drawing, and this is easily his best work to date, with Luna, Pinkie, and Twilight all very attractively rendered.
With seven issues of FRIENDS FOREVER now in the books, I think we can safely say that the overall quality of this title is outstripping that of the defunct MLP micro-series. Now, can they keep the roll going?