Saturday, December 20, 2014

Comics Review: MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDS FOREVER #12 (December 2014, IDW)

Brenda Hickey's cover homage to the "Nowhere Man" sequence from Yellow Submarine (1968) isn't just for funsies.  This issue is a no-holds-barred "psychedelic experience" complete with what THE OVERSTREET PRICE GUIDE (or at least the editions I've seen) would have no hesitation labeling as a "drug use motif."  One could argue that it stands to reason that color-coordinated ponies with strange powers would inevitably have to endure a scenario like this at some point.  And who better to experience the full brunt of the "trip" than Pinkie Pie

My opinion of the issue as a whole could charitably be described as "mixed."  I appreciate the immense effort that Hickey, who has sure as shootin' taken a long, strange trip since her MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC comic-book debut, puts into making this thing truly bizarre, and I did enjoy the cleverness of Barbara Kesel's dialogue.  The problem is that, given the whisper-thin plot premise, I don't think that this tale merited a full issue.  The vast majority of the story seems to take place in the "Pinkie Zone," and that's an area that is fun to visit in the short run but tends to drive the visitor away in the long run, simply because Pinkie is so over the top... and she's roughly 100 stories OVER "over the top" here.  In the end, I think that Kesel and Hickey simply try TOO hard to punch the weirdness across.  I can see this working better as one of the backup features that have appeared in most issues of the MLP:FIM flagship title.

I'm not going to bother with SPOILERS here, since the plot could be scribbled on both sides of the paper in a Chinese fortune cookie, with room left over for the standard "lucky numbers" and one-sentence sliver of wisdom. Pinkie is obsessed with treats called "Phenomnomenons" and comes to ask for Twilight Sparkle's assistance in resisting their sugary Siren call, but she ultimately learns that the best way to "kick a habit" is by using one's own willpower.  Welcome back to the 80's... "Just Say No" has returned with a vengeance!  Kesel and Hickey would probably deny that such was their intention, but that's the way the message comes across.  The only added feature here is Twilight's personal intervention, which is itself presented in considerably-further-than-off-the-wall fashion.  For example, Twilight uses the hyped-up Pinkie's innate kinetic energy to trap the pink pony in a Mousetrap-style game-cum-prison.

Unfortunately, Kesel and Hickey muddy their supposed moral a bit in the last panel with Spike.  He didn't really need to be in this issue at all, actually, which makes the coda all the more obnoxious. 

These are definitely NOT the weirdest pages in the story... just the ones I could readily find online.

Aside from its sheer "bizzaritude," this tale will wind up rating a footnote of sorts in MLP:FIM trivia lore, because it marks the first time that any sort of canonical or quasi-canonical pony story has spent any time inside Twilight's "Friendship Castle," the gaudy structure that first appeared at the end of the show's two-part season four finale, "Twilight's Kingdom."  Most of Twilight's anti-temptation experiments take place inside the castle; things don't begin to fall apart for our favorite scholarly alicorn princess until the field of battle shifts outdoors to the open-air food market.

Not a flop, but not really what I prefer to see in an MLP:FIM comic-book story, either.  At least, a full-length one.

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