Friday, 15 November 2013

Comic review: MLP:FiM Micro-series issue #9: Spike

MLP:FiM Spike micro comic RI cover
Sara Richard's RI cover — what is is a homage to?
After a gap last month for the Equestria Girls annual, the My Little Pony micro-series is back in action this month with the penultimate issue, featuring Spike. A lot of people seem to have it in for the baby dragon, and I can't say his episodes are my favourites, but I hope this sells decently. We have a new creative team: Rob Anderson writes while Agnes Garbowska (who's done covers in the past) provides the artwork. For once I picked up the RI cover, which cost £4.00 from Nostalgia & Comics in Birmingham. Review after the break!

The first thing to say about this comic is that it's quite a lot gentler and quieter in feel than what we usually get from, say, Cook/Price/Breckel. The pace is a bit slower, most of the action is confined to Twilight's house and the whole thing feels as though it might actually be aimed at the core demographic, something you couldn't really say about the likes of the Rarity micro. It may well take time to grow on you, which is what happened in my case, so do give it a real chance rather than just assuming "Spike = boring".

Spike displays the sea beasts to Twi, Flutters and co
Angel's back to his usual personality, I see. Sadly
Anderson has come up with a fairly simple story, but one which does draw you in after something of a slow start. I think it takes a couple of pages too long to get to the point — ie when the sea beasts are magicked into full-on growth mode. After that, though, it's a very enjoyable story and Anderson's skill is in evidence in that we come to have a lot of sympathy for the sea beasts by the time the comic is over. I wouldn't mind seeing him write a CMC story. Poor Spike, though: he's already lost one pet (Pee Wee, referenced in the comic) and now he's lost the sea beasts too.

I also like Garbowska's artistic style, which is very distinctive without being excessively stylised. Twilight and Fluttershy, who make only brief bookending appearances, both look a little bit younger and cuter (well, in the sense that Fluttershy can be any cuter) than you might expect. Not fillies by any means, but rather shorter at least. Garbowska draws Spike very well, though again she seems to have borne in mind that he's a baby dragon rather more than some of the other writers. The sea beasts are also very cute.

The sea beasts getting out of hand
Twilight's books seem to get damaged awfully often
There aren't a huge number of references and shout-outs in this comic, but there are enough to keep readers interested. Spike's attempts to educate the sea beasts, late on in the story, provide the most amusing examples: Po-neigh Descartes apparently said, "I yam what I yam" — note that IDW has the rights to Popeye! There are also a couple of internal references: Spike, for example, starts out reading a Daring Do comic. (We need one of these in real life!) Angel and Owlowiscious are both present for background effects.

I came away from this comic feeling quite pleased. It's not a ground-breaking issue, and it's certainly not the best of the micros, but it has a decent moral and unless you're a confirmed Spike-hater I think you'll get something out of this one. The sea beasts are an interesting creation that I wouldn't be surprised to see referenced (if only in a background cameo) in future issues. And, of course, there's always the chance that they might have something to do with seaponies! Not an essential purchase, but certainly not a waste of money.

Spike having a eureka moment
But surely purple unicorns are ridiculously overpowered...?
  • Spike is well in character throughout
  • Not a bad message
  • The sea beasts are rather endearing
  • Garbowska's style suits the issue's "younger" feel
  • Starts rather slowly
  • More could have been done with Angel and Owlowiscious
  • Spike calls Twi "Twilight Sparkle" at one point

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