Sunday, 1 September 2013

Comic review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic issue 10

MLP:FiM #10 Cover A
Andy Price's fantastic Cover A homage to Justice League #1
It's been a hectic week or so in my pony life (which, amazingly, is not the only part of my life — but it's felt like it recently!) and so I'm only now getting on to this review. Issue #10 of IDW's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic (£3.15 from N&C as ever) concludes the short arc starring Big Mac: you could almost call it an unofficial Big Mac micro. Issue #9 was absolutely amazing, and received my first 10/10 rating. If this follow-up can get anywhere close to that, then it'll be a classic arc. Come past the jump with me to see whether it can!


The epic tale of Big Mac's search for nails to fix the gazebo continues, with several plot strands from last time being carried on. The Cutie Mark Crusaders are still dashing around with some pretty terrifying-looking fireworks, and still using really rather ill-advised code words ("Mapple Broom") to give the order for launch. Meanwhile, the concussed Fleetwood is still obsessed with the idea of making Big Mac her husband — now carrying around a rather familiar-looking Pinkie Pie toy!

Fleetfoot and Big Mac. And Pinkie costume
Pinkie and the Mane, Pinkie and the Mane. One is a Wonderbolt, but she's now insane
Fleetfoot, however, does eventually acquire a rival when the (also now concussed) Tealove decides that "Mac... Big Mac" is the secret agent of her dreams. The accompanying dreamscape scene (only two-thirds of a page) doesn't quite work for me, in that some of the wording seems a little lazy. For example, "Her Majesty's Secret Service" would have been much better as "Celestia's Secret Service", and the filmstrip just quotes the song from You Only Live Twice verbatim and unponified. The horse-drawn Aston Martin is fun, though.

That aside, Andy Price's art is as vibrant and expressive as ever. He plays around with panel boundaries all the time, with one big picture of Vinyl Scratch that runs down the side of a page being especially striking. There are a few slightly distracting white spaces on page 16 (and nowhere else) which could have done with being filled, but the rest is excellent. Price plays with perspective and — as the evening wears on — lighting, and does so with great skill.

Derpy's chrysalis home
Derpy is still living in the chrysalis left over from issue #1!
Katie Cook's writing is always very good as well, and everypony seems in character, even if it is slightly startling to note Big Mac saying things like "Sorry"! As happened back in the first arc, Spike and Angel (with moustaches!) are called upon to bookend the tale, and once again it works well. There's even a verse of a new song ("Summer Wrap Up") right at the end of the issue — where we also find Bon Bon's second appearance of the series. No-one seems to have done a version of the song for YouTube yet: come on, bronies, get with it!

References... you want references? Oh yes, you do. This comic is stuffed with the things, perhaps even to the point where they're slightly overdone. As ever, I certainly wouldn't claim to have caught all of them, but there are certainly nods to Star Trek, Ren and Stimpy, Gen 13, The Andy Griffith Show and (again) Peanuts. The references to the G1 "Sun Stone" story continue as well, while Cheerilee's noticeable affection towards Big Mac suggests that the Love Poison from S2E17 may not quite have worn off after all!

Katie Cook's sketch of Fleetfoot and Big Mac
Why is Rarity making the dress while Fleetfoot's wearing it?
A couple of pages after the end of the story proper, we get a nice little extra from Katie Cook. Not a back-up story this time, but a double-page spread of sketches relating to this arc. I still don't like her style for Pony as much as Price's, but it does work very well in sketch form. Luna winning the strength test is particularly interesting, given Celestia's hoof-wrestling ability against Big Mac in the comic proper! Here, incidentally, we have final proof that the "Fleetfoot Mac" pun was deliberate.

I don't think issue #10 is quite up to the standard of its predecessor, as there are moments (not many, but they're there) where the reference density just starts to threaten to overwhelm the actual story. I'm also not 100% convinced by some of the puns ("Cart Wash" is a bit feeble). But there's no doubt that this is still an extremely readable, extremely funny story and that the Cook/Price/Breckel team really have succeeded in making Big Mac an interesting character. Buy it? Of course.

Dodge Junction's parade float
Daring Do and the Quest for the Box of Nails — out now!
Yays
  • Very funny again
  • Striking, varied artistic style
  • Nicely paced
  • That amazing Cover A
Neighs
  • The James Bond spoof doesn't entirely work
  • Those odd white spaces
9/10


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