Thursday, 29 May 2014

Comic review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic issue 19

IDW MLP comic issue 19, cover A
Aww, poor old Fourth Doctor, stuck on the evil side
Here we are at the three-quarter mark of the Reflections arc, which so far has proven to be very good indeed. It's been wonderful to have the space that a four-comic arc affords once again. That goes especially when it's this particular creative team at the helm. Naturally, there'll be plenty of spoilers in my review, but you really should know that by now! If you're ready for that, then come with me past the break and things will happen. Possibly good; possibly not. We shall see...

This is going to be a slightly shorter review than maybe it deserves to be, because I can't think of all that much to say this time around. Never mind: all you really need to know is that yes, this comic does live up to the standards you'd expect from the Cook/Price/Breckel partnership. We flit back and forth between worlds and times, in a way that's surprisingly complicated for a comic (ostensibly, if not really) aimed at young children. Still, it's no more timey-wimey than Doctor Who itself!

There's quite a dark feel to this issue, and I mean that literally as well as figuratively. A lot of it takes place at night, and some of that is in the rather unpleasant Mirror!Ponyville. It's probably not quite as dark as issue #3, but probably nothing will ever touch that panel. The threat level is built up fairly steadily, to the extent that you don't always really notice... and then you get to the final panel and you realise that things are going to happen next time round.

The Wall O' Notes
As ever, Pinkie speaks the truth...
We learn a good deal more about what brought Our!Celestia and Mirror!Sombra together in the first place, and there's plenty of Star Swirl as well. Luna makes an appearance in two very different forms, which is intriguing in itself; you wonder what the story is behind the first, smiley version. And (as I just touched on) we get a few more glimpses of Mirror!Ponyville, including wanted posters for both Heather Breckel and Katie Cook, plus some "CMC" graffiti!

The writing and art are both very good this time round. The pacing is excellent, with the story feeling neither rushed nor sluggish. A good deal happens, and you'll almost certainly be missing out if you only read the comic once and then put it aside. Price has really gone to town with this one, with some wonderful facial expressions, backed up with Breckel's usual accomplished colour-work. A set-piece scene in a garden at night (no, not that one) is truly gorgeous to look at.

Humour is in relatively short supply after the first few pages, perhaps unsurprisingly given the ratcheting up of tension and worry. Pinkie Pie, inevitably, still provides the odd little bit – and may have noticed something very significant, though she can't seem to persuade the others that it even exists. The sight of Mirror!Discord as "Captain Goodguy" is fairly amusing, but I think my favourite panel was that showing Celestia's reaction to her first taste of coffee.

Celestia and Sombra sign their wishing card
"We don't have quills. We write with sofas"
References? Callbacks? Shoutouts? Well, of course. Most notably in Good!Sombra's castle, where a whole wall is covered in sticky notes. There's a Sweetie Belle "RESIST" poster, a mention of Spican flame gems (Spike-an? Oh, never mind) and even a comment intended entirely for those of us who tend to overanalyse things. Velvet Underground fans are in for a treat at one point, too, as their lyrics are used in the garden scene.

Oh, and there's another of Cook's amusing backup stories – and once again it's about how Star Swirl got his hat. This time round, there are slightly too many real-world intrusions for my taste (I wasn't fond of what I felt were some overly blatant Hasbro board-game references) but the story itself was fun and will resonate with anyone who's cosplayed. The final panel, which flips into colour and shows the Mirror!Mane Six as fillies, is without doubt the highlight.

Despite one or two small complaints, issue #19 is – as I think most of us had expected – another excellent installment in this series. I hope that the resolution next month will be as satisfying. If you're not already reading the comics (and if not, why not?) then you could do a great deal worse than to start with this arc. If you are already reading the comics, then you should be buying this issue. It's very enjoyable and highly recommended.

Pinkie notices the "ghost" at the castle
It's hard to imagine one of... those saying "Drat". Mirrorworld strikes again?
  • Looks fantastic throughout
  • Hugely atmospheric
  • Excellent pacing and tension-building
  • Celestia and Sombra's backstory is well done
  • That wall of sticky notes!
  • Shoe-horning Hasbro brand names into the backup story


  1. An entertaining review as always.
    The panel in issue #3 - I assume you mean the one where the kitty from Lovey-Dovey land is... splattered? In front of the CMC's tender young eyes?
    What was it that Pinkie Pie noticed?

    1. Yes, that panel. I've always been slightly surprised Hasbro let that through, and I sometimes wonder whether they gently hinted that they wouldn't like to see it again.

      With Pinkie, I simply meant her noticing the "ghost", as she called it. See the last panel I used to illustrate the review, where Dash has no idea what Pinkie's talking about.