Friday, 22 November 2013

Comic review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic issue 13

IDW MLP:FiM comic issue #13, cover B
Sara Richard's cover has seaponies, guys. Of course I chose it!
And yet another IDW comic appears... I haven't been too well recently and I have a lot to catch up on; I hope this review won't be too bad, though! This time, my £3.15 went on a collaboration between writer Heather Nuhfer (who wrote the #5-8 arc) and artist Brenda Hickey (who drew the AJ micro). As it's all over the covers, there's no spoileriness in my saying that this is a pirate-themed story. No, it's not called "Wintarrr Wrap Up". You silly, silly people. It's actually "The Salty Sea Mare". Past the jump for more, me hearties!

It's nice to have an actual adventure story again, even if this one seems to be rather more of a fun romp than a story with the darker themes explored in the first two series arcs. (We're only halfway, though, so who knows?) The Mane Six are also the focus of attention for the first time since issue #8, and the big news is that Twilight has belatedly been alicorned up. She doesn't actually do any flying in the entire book, which is a bit strange, but her new princess status is significant later on.

The ponies meet Captain Hoofbeard
With a yo ho ho and a bottle of, er, punch?
Actually, this is one of the few problems I have with the issue. Given that alicorn = princess as far as we can tell, did the pirates really not realise that Twilight had a bloody great pair of wings on her back until they actually got told about them by her friends? Not entirely convincing. Another problem is the rather uneven pacing, which starts out fast, slows right down and then speeds up again. It's absolutely fine by the end. Finally, some of the dialogue is iffy, eg Applejack using the word "darling", which is surely Rarity-speak.

All right; whinge over. The comic is a very enjoyable one overall, and though it's not quite as heavy on the jokes as it might have been, there are still some big laughs to be had. Spike as a parrot is an obvious one, as is just about everything Pinkie does. (The "booty" joke is rather tiresome, though.) It's also nicely action-packed, which unsurprisingly gives Rainbow Dash a chance to come into her own — and she takes it. Dashie really shines in this issue, and it's probably her best showing in quite some while.

Rainbow Dash swings into action
Twilight gets very worked up over bad grammar
Fluttershy is the most intriguing of the Mane Six here: it's very hard to tell exactly what's going on with her and Gil the Fish. I'm sure something's being set up, but I can't tell exactly what! There's a very odd (and completely unremarked-upon) cameo by Granny Smith and Big Mac at one point, and what looks like the CMC in another panel. Still, guest pony pirate, Captain Hoofbeard, really does steal the show. Rarity is predictably smitten, but the others seem to fall under his spell to a greater or lesser degree as well.

Rather startlingly, the pony who breaks the fourth wall most obviously this time around is not Pinkie but Rarity. Her expression as she does so is a picture, too. Finally, as has been the case with several of the comics, this is quite a violent issue by My Little Pony standards. There's no blood, of course, but several pirates get beaten up by Rainbow, and one of them has a tooth knocked flying in the process. There are also a couple of not-very-veiled references to actual death ("Wavy Bones' Locker", for example).

Princess Twilight spreads her wings
Twilight's tiny glasses seem almost useless
This is a good issue. Not one of the all-time classics perhaps, but highly enjoyable and certainly recommended. The monster that appears on the very last page pretty much seals the deal for me, and adds an extra half-point to the score. I can think of a couple of ways in which the ponies might get out of that one, not all of them involving Fluttershy! I like Brenda Hickey's artistic style on the whole, and I'm utterly intrigued to see what's going to happen next month — which I suppose is as good a definition of a successful comic as any!

  • An adventure again... and with pirates, no less!
  • Plenty of action, fun — and even some genuine peril
  • Fluttershy gets a more intriguing subplot than usual
  • Rainbow Dash in full-on awesome mode
  • Inconsistent pacing in the first third
  • Twi's magically invisible-to-pirates wings
  • The occasional mildly jarring line of dialogue

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