Friday, 2 August 2013

Comic review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic issue 9

MLP:FiM comic issue #9, Cover A by Andy Price
Andy Price's Cover A is brilliant, too
And here we are again! Issue #9 of MLP:FiM is the first in a two-comic arc with IDW's "dream team" of Katie Cook, Andy Price and Heather Breckel back at the helm. As usual, I bought my copy (Cover A) from Nostalgia & Comics in Birmingham, and in a minute we'll see whether £3.15 was well spent. I also ordered (online from A Place in Space) the SDCC convention exclusive version, since it has some extra content. I won't be reviewing that here; that will follow in a later post. This post contains only stuff that's in the standard variants. Okay, past the jump, please!

"Zen and the Art of Gazebo Repair" is what TV Tropes would call a "Lower Deck Episode", in that the Mane Six are barely glimpsed and not part of the main storyline at all. Instead, it's Big McIntosh who takes centre stage with a deceptively simple story in which he looks for some nails. The reason? He needs to repair the gazebo... which those with long memories will recall played a part in "Hearts and Hooves Day" back in Season Two. After escaping Granny Smith's "when I were a filly" routine, he sets off...

The first appearance of Princess Luna
Rarity is referencing The End of Flutter Valley, a G1 cartoon!
...and of course things go rapidly downhill from there on in. Despite the fact that the Summer Wrap-Up fair is in town, Big Mac just can't find any nails anywhere. Sometimes the place has simply sold out; sometimes he's distracted by something or somepony else; sometimes... well, let's just say that the Cutie Mark Crusaders have a hoof in it. (As an aside, it seems slightly odd to me to see characters that are basically kids running around with fireworks — something that would be utterly illegal here in the UK.)

As with the Rarity micro, this is very obviously a comic aimed fairly and squarely at the brony crowd. Price (who himself has a cameo) draws references everywhere, some of them obvious and some much less so. I'm sure I've missed some of them. For what I think is the first time, Dr. Hooves directly quotes Doctor Who itself ("This watch is me") — and of course he does so to a rather confused Derpy. My favourite of them all is the homage to Peanuts, which is so utterly perfect that I almost want to cut it out and frame it.

Bon Bon *finally* makes an appearance in the comics
It's the Great Cupcake, Lyra Brown
Now we can move on to really important things: Bon Bon is in this story! (Look, it's my blog: I can use bold if I want to.) She hasn't appeared in any issue up until now, and I was starting to think there was some reason why she never would. But no, here she is at last. Only in one scene, but I'll take it. She is in the same panel as Lyra, but the latter is not actually with her, instead spending her time being thoroughly disillusioned about... well, about something that the fandom will instantly recognise.

Luna makes a very funny supporting appearance in the story, which lasts for several pages and makes clear reference to the events of "Luna Eclipsed". Andy Price is a known Luna-tic, so it's hardly surprising, and even I (a Celestia fan) had to chuckle at the "Blame my sister" shirt the Princess of the Night wears in one panel. Cook, Price and Breckel clearly had a huge amount of fun writing and drawing her here, what with her constantly changing shirt slogans, ponytailed hair, ROYAL CANTERLOT VOICE etc.

Fleetfoot dreams of marrying Big Mac
"He's my shmoopy-doopy sweetie-weetie pony pie"
Is there more? Now that's a silly question. An accidental CMC-inspired accident causes the Wonderbolt Fleetfoot to fall out of the sky and (having been concussed) become convinced that Big Mac will become her husband. There's a wonderful full-page dream sequence about this that's used for the Comicsworld variant cover. The red stallion is actually the variously unwilling and unwitting object of desire for several mares, among them the aforementioned Bon Bon and (as seen in the Rarity micro) Sweetcream Scoops.

The end of the comic sees the return of Vaudeville Spike from the first arc, along with Angel, who is complete with false moustache. "Adventure Ponies", eh? Could that perhaps be a reference to a certain 8-bitty game on the Hub's website, hmmm? Oh, and there's a little extra after the story itself has finished: you can make your own Big Mac standee — drawn by Katie Cook — with changeable yokes! This is a truly silly thing, and I mean that as a warm compliment.

Big Mac paper doll
Ask an adult to help whenever you use scissors...
So, are there any problems? Well, there's one panel in which Scoots suffers from a brief recurrence of Price's "Missingwingitis" condition, and Mrs Cake rather oddly refers to her foals as "the fillies" (Pound Cake is a colt!), but you know what? I don't care. This comic is just too good. And in fact I'm going to reflect that in the score. That's right: if you look down a bit, you'll see that I think this is the best My Little Pony comic I've seen yet. In fact, it's basically perfect. If issue #10 is as good as this, then I honestly don't know how anyone can top this arc. Buy this comic. Simple as that.

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  1. Agree with you 100%! This comic had me dying of laughter!

    1. Whoever at IDW hired these people to make their MLP comics is a genius!

    2. Were all the Mane 6 referencing G1 events in their random stories throughout #9 and 10? The "Sun Stone"?

    3. Sorry for the delay in replying -- but yes, those were all G1 references, apparently. I don't know G1 too well, but it's what I've read elsewhere.

    4. Ah, and now I do know: they were all references to "The End of Flutter Valley" from 1986.

  2. My favorite IDW Pony comic so far.