Reviews: My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic IDW

My Little Parallax

In the original two-parter episode, Nightmare Moon was spooky, loud and vindictive, with a tall figure, a black coat and a starry mane, while Luna was cute, shy and lonesome, with a comparatively short height, a blue coat and a light blue mane. This left fans debating how much, if at all, the two of them were the same character.

When we rediscovered the princess in Luna Eclipsed, she was both cute and spooky, she hid her shyness behind a loud exterior, her estrangement brought her to fits of outraged anger, she had grown to an intermediate height, her coat had turned dark blue and her mane had retrieved some of its ethereal properties. The episode had Luna learn that she could be loved for being Nightmare Moon, or at least the holiday version of her. It all seemed to scream at us that what we had seen before was two extremes of a complex personality. And the whole did prove to be greater and better than the sum of its parts.

The second story arc of the comic book series, spanning from issue #5 to issue #8, takes the complete opposite route. We learn that Nightmare Moon is a demonic spirit of fear with a separate existence, this time possessing the body of another pony, while Luna herself seems entirely based on her brief season one appearance, with only occasional nods to her later episodes. This leaves Nightmare Moon without motive, her host's insecurities being only a mean to her control. Meanwhile, Luna is guilt-ridden, presumably over failing to stop a menace rather than over personal misdeeds. Thus, the arc uses a generic villainess and a generic heroine in place of an atoner. It is all a huge step down from everything that made Luna such an interesting character.

TL;DR Broken headcanon, aw boo hoo hoo!

Alright, alright, there is a lot more to this arc and it is actually quite good. But I stand by my points.

Issues #11 and #12

If you haven't tried the comics before and/or weren't really endeared by Cadence and Shining Armour's arrival into the show then this is the arc for you! Not only did it endear me to these characters but they are great comics in of themselves.

The feel of the show is very much there, and thanks to some great artwork there are tons of great in-jokes and just plain interesting things to look at. I love particularly how expressive the ponies can be without even saying something - if you can track down an image of young Twilight you'll see what I mean. Oh, and the humour; it's pretty damn funny to boot.

The plot itself? Pretty standard boy-meets-girl. Boy can't form coherent sentences around girl, girl is obsessive list maker who despite being popular just gets dragged along. Fortunately, boy has 'helpful' friends who will stop at nothing to get him with the girl of his dreams. Also featured: Jerk Jock and prom night.

If I haven't sold it to you yet then that's a shame, but it's a great addition to the G4 universe and I never thought I'd say that about anything with Shining Armour and Cadence in.

"Return of Queen Chrysalis": A slightly different beast....

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.