Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic issue 4

MLP:FiM comic issue #4 (Amanda Conner cover)
Cover A by Amanda Conner (colours by Paul Mounts)
So, here we are at the end of the first arc of IDW's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic. On the evidence of the first three issues, the combination of Katie Cook and Andy Price has been a winner. I wandered off into central Birmingham this afternoon to pick up issue #4, and as usual took my £3.15 to Nostalgia & Comics. They only had two copies in stock, which surprised me a bit, but I had the choice of both main covers. I went for Conner's over Stephanie Buscema's as it seemed more fun. What about the story inside, though? Hit the jump to find out!

We pick up the story where we left off, with the Mane Six having arrived at Queen Chrysalis's isolated forest lair. In the middle of the night, of course. The internal strife that dogged the group earlier on has been resolved, so they're now absolutely committed to saving Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, who are still imprisoned in the Changeling Queen's icky green cocoon. Time is running out, though — can our heroes reach the three fillies before they suffer some horrible fate?

Pinkie brings out the ponysuit yet again
Applejack definitely wins the "best resigned-to-Pinkieness face" competition
Well, yes. This is an all-ages comic, after all, and killing off the CMC would be a pretty fast way for IDW to lose a huge chunk of their audience. Still, any self-respecting adventure story should make sure that it's far from easy for the heroes to reach their goal, and Chrysalis has packed the house with all manner of twisted, evil dangers that lurk behind almost every door. The vast eye of some nameless monster. The Phantom of the Opera. The inevitable clowns.

Pinkie Pie isn't fazed: she loves surprises. Until she realises that her surprise is the aforementioned eye, at which point her composure suffers somewhat. Before this, she'd been in quite good spirits, judging by the fact that she was happy to bring that ponysuit out yet again. Rainbow Dash is not amused by this, and very obvious it is, too: as has been the case all the way through the main series, Andy Price has drawn the ponies' faces wonderfully expressively.

Chrysalis battles Twilight
You know, for kids. (Yes, all right. I have to say it sometime!)
As you might expect from what is effectively a season finale, there's a lot of action going on here, not least when it comes to the climactic confrontation between Twilight and Chrysalis. There's a full-page drawing of the two of them that should be shown at once to anyone who still thinks My Little Pony is all about cute teddies' tea parties. (Sorry, Fluttershy.) It's hard to convey such action and movement in an inanimate medium, but Price comes pretty close to achieving it.

Still, it's not all about biff-bang-wallop. There are heaps more references, including a very clever line that takes in both Ghostbusters and the brony fandom in one fell swoop. The humour quotient is slightly down on account of all the action, but it's still there: Rarity and Sweetie's reaction to another pony's statement that Twilight is "the most awesome unicorn there is" is very funny. There's even genuine emotion in Scootaloo's wistful, "It must be nice to have a big sister."

A scene from the Spike-and-Celestia backup story
Forty-two leg cramps? Hmm...
Add in a Spike-and-Celestia back-up story by Katie Cook — one that directly references the main adventure — and it's clear that issue #4 is another excellent read. I don't think it's quite up to the standard of the previous three, particularly because the ending gives Twilight such prominence while the others don't do much more than give encouragement from the sidelines. Nevertheless, it's still a very entertaining read, and one which caps off a triumphant opening arc for the comic. Everyone involved should be proud.

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