When this series was announced, I rejoiced. A well-respected team shepherding one of the most well-rounded cartoon casts into a whole new Expanded Universe? Finally, a reason to look forward to comics again! But the question remains, is it as good as its progenitor? The art takes some getting used to. Due to the way the show is made, it has two styles of animation: extremely on-model and slightly less on-model. The hand-drawn art here is a lot freer, but it doesn't have the consistency of the show. Sometimes the faces are dead-on, other times I'll get distracted by Twilight's eye socket being off-center or Applejack snarling in a very detailed, very uncanny way. On the whole, though, I'd take the more hit-and-miss approach of artist Andy Price over an endless series of stock vectors, and even the most derped-up faces have their own quaint charm. Price, with colorist Heather Breckel, also does very interesting things with panel space, like the blown-out colors of the ponies when they see the town hall in issue #1, and the border of goo surrounding the panels on the following page. The writing also isn't quite what we're used to. Author Katie Cook absolutely nails the characters' voices, but the dialogue is much more adult-oriented than we're used to on the show, i.e. its loaded with pop culture references. Like Rainbow Dash quoting the movie Road House. Or a reference to getting "form-lettered". Or Rarity's rant on 80s fashions she'd like to destroy. The show's done similar references, but never with this sheer ten-gags-a-page density, instead relying on character-based humor and parceling the pop culture out bit-by-bit so as not to overwhelm the kids. The IDW series, though, knows who it's targeted at and has a higher level of self-awareness about its medium. In fact, it reminds me less of Friendship Is Magic and more of Rob Renzetti's late, great My Life As A Teenage Robot, which was also overdosed with pop culture and wouldn't think twice about depicting the really rather morbid sight of a cartoon character playing with a skull that has "Bones" McCoy's hair on it. Ultimately, the comic establishes its own identity without being a carbon copy of the show, yet manages to be every bit as colorful and fun. And best of all, it promises many more grand adventures in the wild, wonderful world of Equestria.
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