Friday, 23 May 2014

Comic review: MLP Friends Forever #5: Fluttershy & Zecora

MLP Friends Forever #5 Cover A
This is the standard Cover A, by Amy Mebberson
Despite their random-number-generator release schedule, IDW have now provided us with Friends Forever #5, teaming up Fluttershy and Zecora. We've seen a little bit of these two in My Little Pony on-screen, but not much recently other than the scene in "Filli Vanilli". We have Thom Zahler returning to Pony for the first time since the iffy Twilight micro, Tony Fleecs drawing (as he did for the also-iffy Fluttershy micro) and the ever-reliable Heather Breckel as colourist. I went the electronic route this time; past the break for spoilery reviewy stuff!

The plot this time is a slightly strange one: Fluttershy starts being spoken to by the local critters. But, you might protest, doesn't that happen already? Well, yes... but not in English. (Okay, Equestrian. Whatever.) She's rather disconcerted by this, especially when they don't seem to want to explain, so she goes off into the Everfree Forest to find Zecora. This bit seemed a bit odd: surely 'Shy would still be a little wary of dashing off into Everfree, yet there's no sign of even a brief hesitation.

Zecora's appearance in this comic I have mixed feelings about. I do like her a lot as a character, but it's undeniable that her rhyming starts to grate when she's around for as long as she is here, about three-quarters of the comic. The Big Mac arc in the main series cleverly subverted this by having the zebra poke fun at her own dodgy rhymes, but here the closest thing we get is a truly awful forced rhyme of "bedda" (for "better") and "nepeta" (ie catnip). It nearly works, but not quite.

Zecora blows up her house
What is it with MLP and blowing up trees recently?
Just in case we haven't had enough of the guy lately, Discord also puts in an appearance. I wasn't at all sure what to make of this, given his prominent part in the S4 finale very recently. There's absolutely no mention of that, so I have to assume that the comic is set either slightly earlier or in an alternate timeline of some sort. Discord here is very much still Fluttershy's faithful friend, though the "surprise party" ending is maybe just that bit too similar to a certain infamous S1 episode...

I haven't always been the biggest fan of Tony Fleecs' artwork, but I said in my review of the CMC/Discord comic that I liked the way his style has evolved recently. I think another step forward has been taken here, and although there are still some gripes (a rather lazy-looking couple of Discord images and some odd Flutterfaces) it's not bad on the whole. The black outlines certainly work a lot better than coloured ones; the evidence for that now seems overwhelming, and other artists should take note.

There seem to be surprisingly few references and shout-outs this time. Perhaps the most obvious is when Zecora subjects Fluttershy to a word-association test: the word is "hip", to which Flutters naturally replies "square". Anyway, summing up this comic: as seems to be the norm for Friends Forever, it's considerably less epic than the main series – and even some of the micros – but it's still fairly good fun. And it had been too long since we saw a close-up of a really bad-tempered Angel!

Discord appears
Now Discord/Zecora is a match-up I'd like to see!
  • Cute, if rather slight, storyline
  • Fleecs' artwork looks nicer again
  • Nice, bright colouring
  • One or two amusing jokes and references
  • Zecora drives me mad after a while
  • A couple of obvious plot holes
  • Discord seems to be there mostly for the sake of it
  • Was that catnip thing really ethical, Zecora? Hmm?


  1. Actually the main cover is done by Amy Mebberson.

    1. Quite right; thanks for correcting me! This is one reason I prefer paper copies -- I can look on the back cover and see who drew them!