REVIEW: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #2

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Or – “The Best-Selling Comic Of 2012?”

There are times when I’ll be patrolling the Internet in my official duties as “That Guy Who Is Vaguely Notorious On The Intarwebz For That Thing” only to run across certain phenomena that exist at the edges of my metaphorical vision.  The ‘Friendship Is Magic’ Brony/Pegasister communities are pretty vocal in their love of the animated series, and the copious amounts of affection lavished on the series triggered me to watch it with my child.  While the Widget isn’t quite as much of a fan of FIM as she is of Gokaiger, she enjoyed it enough to develop a deep affection for Derpy Hooves.  Issue #1 set sales and re-order records in comic shops across America, and while I wasn’t able to snag the first issue, I’m curious enough to look into this’n, which is likely to be one of January’s sales leaders.  Ready or not, we’re headed to Ponyville, and your Major Spoilers review awaits!

MyLittlePony2CoverMY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #2
Writer: Katie Cook
Artist: Andy Price
Colorist: Heather Breckel
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, on My Little Pony – Friendship Is Magic: In the far-off magicky land of Equestria, there exists a civilization of ponies, unicorns and pegasi, searching (as we all do) for their purpose in life.  When that purpose is discovered, each pony receives his or her “Cutie Mark,” a special symbol that represents that talent/focus/obsession.  Unicorn Twilight Sparkle has been sent to Ponyville in order to learn about the power of friendship, embodied by her close ties to Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash and Rarity, five ponies who have not only assisted in her studies, but helped to save the world more than once from alien threats from beyond space the forces of darkness. Last ish, one of those forces, wicked Queen Chrysalis, returned and kidnapped (horse-napped?) the Cutie Mark Crusaders (a group of younger ponies who are still searching for their special talent), challenging the Mane Six to retrieve their young friends.  Basically, we’re lookin’ at The Hobbit with pastels and hooves, and Bob’s your uncle, but will our heroes’ friendship survive the trip?

AN ‘OF MICE AND MEN’ REFERENCE IN THE FIRST FIVE PAGES…

The best parts of the animated series are clearly in evidence as we open this issue, with our heroes looking for their way to the Changeling Kingdom, with their usual interpersonal conflicts in play.  Pinkie hippity-hops around like she’s at a party, while Rainbow Dash is willing to just fly over the mountain and await the others while they traverse a dark and scary looking series of tunnels.  The character types are archetypical, even if you don’t know anything about the ponies in question, from the down-to-Earth common sense of Applejack to the histrionic Veronica Lodge vanity of Rarity, and the story puts their various peccadilloes into play quickly.  There’s what I took to be a nice in-joke about collectors as the ponies bump into a troll who wants to keep them all on a shelf to look at (a reasonable facsimile of Optimus Prime is already in his collection) and the ponies work together to make a clever escape from his clutches.  Artwise, I’m pretty impressed with this book, as the titular ponies are highly stylized, and it seems like it would be very easy to get off-model.  Artist Price has to be commended, and the spectacular color palette is pretty cool as well, even in the dark confines of the underground cave network…

INTERESTING CHARACTER WORK

There is some interesting conflict between the characters as well, as a group of Changelings takes advantage of their separation in the caverns, and begins sowing dissent among the Mane Six, taking advantage of the situation by playing the characters flaws and against one another.  Broken into three groups of two, the ponies end up in even worse trouble, only to snatch victory thanks to the intervention of a new friend.  As cartoon adaptations go, this one is pretty sharp, keeping things simple enough for young readers to grok it all while making it interesting for old folks like me.  Most importantly, it’s never difficult to keep everything straight (except for my own personal blind spot of remembering how to tell the difference between Twilight Sparkle and Rarity, something that is entirely due to my brain and not the visuals.)  At story’s end, jealousy, irritability and duplicity split the ponies into three factions, each setting off in their own direction with their sisterhood seemingly abandoned forever.  (And yes, Mela, Rainbow Douche totally lives up to her name, or at least her duplicate does.)

THE BOTTOM LINE: ONE APPARENTLY DOES SIMPLY CANTER INTO MORDOR…

I fully expect for the comments on this issue to contain some people lamenting my perceived descent into brony-hood while others laud me for finally getting on the bandwagon.  Neither would be entirely on the mark, but I have to say, this issue works for me as both a single story and a chapter in an ongoing tale.  We get more than enough context to appreciate who is whom, as well as clever interjections from the villainess to remind us of the stakes, while each hero is given enough uniqueness to differentiate, even if you can’t hear the cartoon voices in your head.  (It’s pretty easy to do so, though.)  All in all, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #2 hits a sweet spot, delivering a fun story with good dialogue, excellent art, and enough grown up references to keep me entertained, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  Best of all, once I’m done, I can give it to the daughter for her collection, as she has asked several times if the issue is for her…

Rating: ★★★★☆

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