Thursday, 11 September 2014

Comic review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic issue 23

IDW MLP:FiM comic #23 Cover B
Sara Richard's wonderfully striking Cover B
The MLP comics are coming thick and fast at the moment: Friends Forever #9 is already out, and the Annual appears later this month. But for now, it's back to IDW's main My Little Pony comic. This time we have a one-shot, written by Jeremy Whitley and drawn by Amy Mebberson, with Heather Breckel on colouring duties. As well as being a self-contained issue, this one's unusual in that it stars the ponies' pets. Does the risk pay off? After the break, we'll find out!

The answer to the question is "mostly". This is a very enjoyable comic in most ways, one which makes an unusual style work really well. For about 80% of the comic, there is no actual dialogue, with the critters' thoughts represented by pictorial speech bubbles. (Owlowiscious is allowed the odd "Hoo?", however.) Although rather strange to start with, it suits the comic format very well and gives an interesting insight into the pets' personalities. (With a bit of tweaking, it could have been a killer EqD contest entry!)

The story is fairly simple, which again works well. Angel (and yes, you have to be on his side here!) wakes up to find the cottage in a state and Fluttershy nowhere to be seen. He organises the other critters and they discover that Ponyville's ponies have been enchanted by the song of a strange creature (later revealed to be a kelpie) and are hacking away at the town's dam! There is a reason why the kelpie is doing this, though I'm not sure I buy that, as a creature able to communicate, she wouldn't have tried reasoning first.

Angel realises Fluttershy is missing
One word, sort-of rhymes with "Mutteryay"
There are, as ever, a number of references and shout-outs, not to mention background ponies all over the place. A nice one this time is the presence of not one, not two but five ponies based on characters from Peanuts, including a Linus one complete with security blanket! There's also a fun in-universe reference in that Angel makes use of a bottle of what can only be Poison Joke. I don't know whether "OpalZilla" was a deliberate reference to anything, but she's a great (and terrifying!) character all the same.

For a long time, I thought this was going to be an absolute top-tier comic, possibly rating 9 or more. It's just that enjoyable. What badly lets it down is the ending, in which the ponies finally realise what's going on and forgive the kelpie who's come close to destroying Ponyville. I don't mind the forgiveness – these are the ponies who've repeatedly forgiven Discord – but the resolution is horrendously rushed, most of it being covered in one panel. It's a real disappointment. Still a good comic, but it could have been a great one.

The enchanted ponies hack at the dam
Trixie and Derpy are only the start of the background pony extravaganza
  • The (mostly) wordless style works excellently
  • A pretty strong outing for the critters
  • Some nice, energetic artwork
  • The ending apart, pretty smoothly paced
  • Some amusing references
  • A terribly, terribly rushed ending
  • Why didn't the kelpie try talking first?


  1. I must admit, I wasn't at all sure at first about how well this particular issue would work out. It seemed an interesting approach, but I just couldn't see how it was going to work. And yet as it turned out, I really enjoyed this one. No, as you pointed out, it may not have been perfect. I couldn't really see why the kelpie didn't try visiting Ponyville first and at least attempted to find a much easier, less damaging solution. And I'd agree totally that the ending seemed very rushed.

    For all that though, I think 7 is a fair mark, and despite the problems, I enjoyed it. The artwork seemed perfect for this kind of story, plus of course it was great to see Angel in hero mode, doing his best to save the day with the help of the other pets. What I also like, from a creative point of view, is that it can't have been easy to write a story like this with minimal dialogue. But it worked, and I thought they did a great job of it too. Especially with Angel using symbols and gestures to show what he was trying to say. (And this approach could only work in comics - it would be far more difficult to have worked that kind of idea into the show, using symbols appearing over his head. So I'm glad they took advantage of the way comics work, to good effect.)

    As for the huge Opal, I can't be sure about this but there may have been a gigantic catzilla in a japanese comic, quite a while ago. That's really not helpful at all, mind, but that's about the closest I can guess. One of those "that's vaguely familiar" moments, but I can't think where!