Thursday, 8 January 2015

Comic review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic issue #26

MLP:FiM comic #26 Cover A
It should have featured The Mailmare With No Name
Yes, I know, I'm so late with this one that another MLP comic is already out. I'll try to catch up, honest! Anyway, this comic is the concluding part of the two-issue arc that began with last month's flawed outing. Before reading, my guess was that it would give us a rather convoluted way out of the Twilight Problem™, that the artwork would be great and that I'd be giving it a slightly better score than issue #25 but not a fantastic one. Actually, since I'm using star ratings now, I can't give it the same rating as last month's effort! Not much to say this time, so here goes:

To be quite honest, things went pretty much as I said above that I'd expected them to. Twilight's criteria for when she can intervene with her Super Alicorn Powers are rationalised a bit, but not enough to make up for the utter mess which caused her (and us, the readers) to get into such a state in the first place. If she can throw cattle in jail for damaging an ancient monument, she can damn well do the same thing when they burn down buildings and physically attack the sheriff of a town! On the plus side, she makes the perfect pernickety town clerk.

The cattle are scared by Rarity's ghost illusion
I guess you could call this a... Ghost Variant!
Talking of that, Cook's writing is again a bit uneven: for example, since when could Rarity do illusions like that? While I don't think it's as bad as reviewers on... certain infamous sites tend to say, nor do I feel that it's her best work. Some might even say that she's never quite reached the heights she hit with the Big Mac arc more than a year ago. I've certainly never read anything quite as funny since, although issue #26 does provide quite a few chuckles, such as the sequence with Fluttershy the mailmare. (I don't think any quite live up to the "Bull" gag from last time, though.)

Price's art is by far the best thing about issue #26. His main cover is highly effective and the interior artwork is also often impressive, with lots of dynamism and some amusing expressions. Among my favourite panels is one showing Longhorn rearing up aggressively, towering over a clearly worried Pinkie Pie. There's no backup story this time, but Cook does provide us with a handful of ponified movie posters; these are in her usual style, which is amusingly out of place in a Western poster, so are mildly amusing, but not much more.

Yet another form-filling technicality for Longhorn to deal with
I found several mistakes in this story. Not the sort you mean, though...
The bigger-name reviewers seem to love this issue, but I'm afraid I can't go along with them. While issue #26 is a slightly more enjoyable and less annoying read than its prequel, it still suffers from bizarre tone shifts and the idiocy of its basic premise. I note that the same creative team will be bringing us the next story in the main series; I can only hope that they do a better job. This issue is better than its predecessor (being otherwise would have been hard) and so just scrapes a three-star rating, largely for the artwork. I hope for better things next month.

Update: No. I'm being too generous. The biggest problem is that this doesn't feel like Friendship is Magic. It's the same problem "Mare Do Well" had, albeit in a different way. As such, I'm reducing this issue's score to two stars.

Yays
  • The artwork is once again very attractive
  • Twilight's obsession to detail is put to good use
  • Does provide several quick laughs
  • Price's brilliant main cover design
Neighs
  • The underlying problem of Twi's ethics remains
  • The writing is rather uneven
  • Sheriff Applejack was woefully underused
  • Doesn't truly feel like MLP:FiM

8 comments:

  1. I personally thought this issue was an improvement on the previous issue, but I think part of that is because the "shock" of Twilight's very strange decision/ethics has already been witnessed. So when I read this new issue, I already knew what to expect. I do wonder if Cook has seen any of the negative comments about that previous issue, assuming there have actually been other mentions of The Twilight Problem(tm). And if so, I wonder what her thoughts on that have been.

    Still, as a whole I've found this story arc to be good artwork, good expressions and some interesting moments. But as a whole, it just felt a bit like a wasted opportunity and didn't seem as inventive as some of the other Cook/Price offerings. Maybe that's just me though, since I'm not all that much of a fan of cowboy stories etc. Even so, I can't help but have the word "filler" floating to mind when I read this particular story arc. Ah well, hopefully the next two issues will be an improvement. :)

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    1. Yeah, that aligns quite well with my own feelings. I'm not sure I'd personally consider it filler, though, as much as a potentially big story that was rather wasted. I'm optimistic from the synopsis I've seen of next month's issue that it will be better, but we'll have to wait and see.

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    2. One big problem I found with the story (from this great review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpTnwCgaHyA&feature=youtu.be)
      is that here, it's like Applejack's "missing uncle" just disappeared from this story, as if the writers couldn't decide what the plot should be.

      When I plan to buy these comics, I'm skipping this arc. It probably just ain't worth it.

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  2. While I found this story arc to be very under par, I did like the little nod to the 80's comedy Cheer's with the message "Norm was here" carved into the bar.

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    1. Ooh, I missed that! Nice touch. :)

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  3. This came out a while ago but in case you missed it, Silver Quill heavily critiqued this arc because of Twilight's mischaracterisation as well: http://youtu.be/MpTnwCgaHyA

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    1. In all honesty, I think just about everyone who read it had a go at it! :P

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    2. I'm not gonna lie, he did a great job reviewing it! He even did 2 fan comics on Deviantart that are better than this one, called "When Foals Rush," and "A Princess' Tears." They're great, and I recommend them!! But if you do plan to read them, I will say one thing without giving away the plot, you may think Celestia is acting OOC in the first one, but when you read the second one it will most likely make sense. He also explains why in the comments.

      I was actually told by someone else on that video that Twilight in this arc was actually characterized well and that she needed to be criticized for failure, but I still can't understand what they meant.

      Issues #25 and #26 though...I'd skip them and based on what Silver Quill said (I agree with him entirely), I'd probably rate both 1/10 or 1 star. They're probably the worst MLP stories I've ever read/seen.

      I disagree with what Logan said about Mare Do Well for this review though; that episode still feels like Friendship is Magic to me, and honestly, I consider it the most underrated episode of the show and don't get the hate for it, I actually understand why things happened the way they did. Such is not the case for these two issues though.

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