Friday, 7 February 2014

Comic review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic issue 16

IDW MLP:FiM comic issue 16, cover A
Rainbow, do you have any other favourite books?
Time we were reviewing a My Little Pony comic again, I think. This time around I wasn't able to get a physical copy for the review, owing to a meet being arranged for release date in a city with no comic shop. (Bad planning, I know. I will be buying a paper copy soon!) However, Comixology have ridden to the rescue before, and they once again have the new comic up for a pretty reasonable £2.49. I was only mildly impressed with issue #15, so let's go past the break and see whether its sequel did any better.

When we left the story, Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Rarity and Pinkie Pie were trapped in Whiteworld and the last-named pony had seen one of her hooves disappear. Admittedly stranger things than that happen to Pinkie on a daily basis, which may explain why this missing appendage is barely mentioned – at least, not until it handily regenerates near the end. (I suppose Pinkie's well documented timey-wimey abilities suggest that regeneration should be in her power as well...)

The four of them, with nothing to do, decide to lick their wounds and generally complain. Eventually, Twilight realises what the rest of us knew all along: that, since their surroundings depend on the stories in their imaginations, all they have to do to leave Whiteworld Room is to imagine a new story. This time, it isn't going to be based on an existing book – it would have a hard time being so anyway, given that the Bookworm has accounted for pretty much everything.

The ponies argue in Whiteworld
A bit like fanfic writers, really...
At this point, the references begin. Oh sweet Celestia, such references! From the moment the title of the first story ("One Worm to Fool Them All") hoves into view, we know what we're going to be in for. While the ponies are searching for the One Thing, the Bookworm is nowhere to be seen. In fact, as we're shown in a somehow rather disturbing panel, he's simply asleep. Hopefully for a long time, as Pinkie is "building suspense" by including 25 pages of nothing but walking. Now you're Tolkien.

After a funny little Shaun of the Dead reference, Rainbow decides enough is enough and that she – along with her "Rainbowettes" (seriously?) – can save the day. Where will she take us? Er... actually, it looks very like the original Starship Enterprise. This is absolutely absurd, which is why it's my favourite part of the comic. Props to them for not going all TNG, since everyone does that. Mind you, I have my suspicions as to why: Rarity's "Space fleas on that sluggy thing" fits perfectly to a certain novelty song by The Firm...

Meanwhile, in Ponyville, Queen NotDisneyAtAll is having a blast, and cements her place as my favourite guest character in this arc. Sweetie Belle attempts to threaten her with the Elements of Harmony (sheesh, did the events of the S4 premiere slip Rarity's mind when she got home?) but its our other heroes who look like being more use. Well, Daring Do and possibly Applejack, rather than Fluttershy and Spike. Unless Queen NDAA can be defeated by cuteness, in which case Flutters is good and... well, Spike is fairly useless either way.

Rarity and the Ponies Noires
Coming soon: The Mailmare Always Rings 15 Times
The best part of this comic comes now, when Rarity gets a turn at telling the story. We're thrown into a black-and-white, hard-boiled film noir version of Pony, which is absolutely wonderful in just about every respect. Pinkie ("Pips") points out that she just plays the games Dash ("Bolts") sets up for her. "Like hopscotch!" This sequence has a sheer verve that's been lacking in some of the rest of the arc. If there is not fanart of Pony Noir within a week, I will want to know the reason why.

The bookworm, it transpires, isn't evil at all: he's just eating his way through Twilight's library in an increasingly forlorn search for a story starring a bookworm. The ponies can't leave, as the library is being guarded by Queen NDAA's Native American cats. (No, me neither.) But they can draw a storybook including them all. And sorry, AJ, but Spike's impression of you seems pretty darn accurate to me. As for Queen NDAA? She's, well, blooped. It's a strangely abrupt and disappointing ending for a fun villain.

I'd rate this comic slightly higher than its predecessor, largely because of the Star Trek and film noir sequences. I still don't much like the design of the bookworm, and I think a more satisfying last few pages would have improved things. Nevertheless, it's been a reasonably solid two-issue arc. Not up to the standards that Heather Nuhfer hit at her peak in Nightmare Rarity, but perfectly readable all the same. Let's be honest, though: this was filler before the main event begins next month...

The remaining ponies (and dragon) in Twilight's house
You can see how Daring Do became such a hero...
  • Rarity's film noir sequence is superb
  • The Star Trek stuff is very funny too
  • Some highly enjoyable dialogue
  • Queen NDAA is potentially a wonderful villain
  • The drawn storybook late in the comic
  • The ending seems a little bit flat
  • Pinkie's lost hoof is largely forgotten until the end
  • The bookworm still puts me off a bit
  • Daring Do is a bit underused

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