Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Comics Review: MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #23 (September 2014, IDW Publishing)

"The Legion of MLP Pets" get to star in a comic all their own, as they must free their mesmerized mistresses and the other denizens of Ponyville from watery destruction at the hands (?) of a frankly self-deluded water sprite.  Dialogue occurs on only two of the book's 22 pages, and you know what that means... REBUS TIME!  Well, no, not exactly.  The animals communicate through a series of simple symbols, most of which are tolerably understandable, a few of which are not.  (Though I suppose that Pinkie Pie's pet alligator Gummy's non sequitur symbols are an accurate reflection of his personality, if not his actual thoughts, such as they are.)  It will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the show that Fluttershy's bossy bunny, Angel, does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to leadership.  Besides the fact that he's easily the most aggressive of the sextet, he's the pet to whom it is easiest to give funny facial expressions and comical reactions.  This might actually be Angel's most likable role of any sort in MLP, full- or semi-canon editions; most of the time, his appearance on screen leads to an immediate hankering for Hassenpfeffer.  All of the other critters get useful things to do at various times, but Angel pretty effortlessly hogs the stage.

Amy Mebberson's art is just fine, particularly her renderings of Angel's reactions.  As for Jeremy Whitley's script... Ehh, once he gets us through the symbolic portion, his conclusion could be considered a source of some potential disputation.  The sudden existence of an old-fashioned dam in Ponyville (this, after the episode "The Mysterious Mare Do Well" depicted a sure-nuff hydroelectric dam in the vicinity!) is iffy all by itself, though I can see why Whitley created it, so that the inhabitants of Ponyville could be more easily hypnotized en masse.  But the recovered Twilight Sparkle's blowing off of the water sprite's attempt to force the ponies to break the dam as "silly" and "the wrong act for the right reasons" (the sprite needed to get her baby sprites [I guess...] to the ocean but found the dam in her way), an action that was done in the name of friendship and therefore could automatically be excused... just... NO.  Is the phrase "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions" unfamiliar to Equestrians?  Twilight herself has engaged in "this is for your own good" actions that backfired horrendously, e.g., her decision to denounce Princess Cadance as evil in "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1," which led to her being shunned by her friends, her brother, and even Princess Celestia.  She's also one of the ruling Princesses of the land.  Is it really conceivable that she'd be quite so forgiving of an action that would have destroyed Ponyville and a lot of its residents?  At the very least, the sprites should have had to make some sort of recompense for the not-inconsiderable damage they caused. 

Whitley also leaves the fate of one of the pets completely up in the air, which seems more like the ending of a Darkwing Duck episode (specifically, "Planet of the Capes") than the neater and tidier conclusions that we've become accustomed to in MLP eps.  It's still a pretty good issue, on balance, but Whitley seems to have gotten so enamored with pet-sitting that he neglected to take care of the "plot wolf" at the door.

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