Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Comic review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic issue #28

MLP:FiM comic issue #28, cover A
This is such a perfect homage
After the long, long drought, the comics are once more coming thick and fast. This week's issue is the second half of the Root of the Problem arc that began rather iffily last time around. As those who read that review will recall, I had quite a few problems with issue #27, most notably with the guest "goodies" seeming almost more unpleasant than the guest "baddies". Still, maybe Cook, Price and Breckel can pull off a recovery that will make this arc a good 'un. I've been rather unwell recently, so this will be a shorter review than usual, but let's see...

First things first: I think this is a better comic than its predecessor. Most importantly, the deer are far less dislikable than they were in issue #27. Aspen can still be a bit abrasive at times, and the whole notion of having a race "controlling" the Everfree Forest still grates, but Blackthorn and Bramble are quite a bit more endearing. (No, I couldn't resist it.) Meanwhile, Well-To-Do and his minotaurs, not to mention their pony employees, are less pleasant than last time, which redresses the balance a bit.

Talking of Well-To-Do, he's nearly Killed Off For Real in this comic, in that he is eaten by a hydra. We even get a blacked-out panel that's reminiscent of, if not quite as shocking as, the infamous "THUMP!" panel way back in issue #3. However, Katie Cook's backup pages show that the minotaur has not only survived, but is thriving as an estate agent inside the monster's body. It makes absolutely no sense, but I suppose Hasbro wasn't going to let them get away with another Chrysalis here.

Well-To-Do shows off the "Twilight Sporkle" figure
Presumably she comes with her own ballewn, too
The deus ex machina ending of this issue is just plain silly. Remember, we were solemnly told that all the construction work had poisoned the forest to such an extent that it wouldn't grow back. On top of this, cervine magic is apparently helpless before such a thing. But what do you know, Well-To-Do's organic smoothie drink mixture can make the grass grow again! This would seem to indicate that Aspen's lot aren't quite as clever as they think they are, since otherwise they'd know about this sort of thing.

Mind you, most of the characters are idiots in this story. The best the ponies themselves can come up with are various types of protest (though that did at least allow a nice cameo from Wheat Grass and Flax Seed) and the land's all-powerful alicorn rulers, of which three take part in this story, are basically useless throughout. Celestia, for example, doesn't try to get to the bottom of things, doesn't go to meet Aspen for a ruler-to-ruler summit and actually doesn't even seem to have realised that Thicket existed in the first place, or that Well-To-Do was making a horrible mess of her country.

Andy Price's artwork is as nice as ever, and he still works very well in conjunction with Heather Breckel. It's therefore another good comic to look at. If you're actually going to read it, though, it continues Katie Cook's run of problematic stories in that it really doesn't feel as though it belongs in "our" Equestria at all, despite nice touches such as push-along bulldozers. The improved attitude of the deer makes it slightly better than the previous issue, but I'm still rather glad that this creative team is taking a little break now. I think they need it.

The ponies and forest creatures prepare for battle
The scariest creature here is, of course, Fluttershy
  • Aspen (especially) and the other deer's improved attitudes
  • The main bad guy actually gets eaten, albeit not killed
  • The artwork is attractive and lush as usual
  • "All fan-fiction must meet corporate standards."
  • Celestia, Luna and Twilight are pretty stupid throughout
  • The "smoothie solution" undermines much of what we were told
  • The Everfree Forest still hasn't had its true mystery restored


  1. Good review Logan.

    I do admit that the start of this arc was good and there were couple good ideas like deers. But unfortunately things went downhill hard when Well-To-Do and the construction site was revealed. If there were any people who liked this then more power to you. But unfortunately to me this was another disappointment.

    And I do share the problem that almost everyone in this story acts like an idiot. This story’s problem could have been solved really quickly, when I think about it. In the starting pages of this issue, Twilight has managet to get messages to Celestia and Celestia is able to send replies to Twilight. And Twilight tells King Aspen that Celestia doesn’t know anything form this.

    Now we have that established. Why doesn’t king Aspen and Celestia communicate with each other through Twilight. By doing that they could talk many things through. After that King Aspen could stop the Everfree Forest from attacking ponies call Celestia there to put stop to this construction site. Or Celestia could give jurisdiction to Twilight to stop this. There problem solved.

    The only great character hear was Blackthorn. When deers leader was not in the picture, he took things in charge and took care of the problem. Kudos to him.

    Also in this and in the last main comic story arc it just doesn't make sense that villains can cause all this harm while in front of alicorn princess and be immune because writing says so.

    Again art and coloring was great but yeah, If comics story is not good then why even bother. I like mlp comics but these two last main comic story arcs and the retconning/continuity-breaking in Friends Forever issues 14, have not been a pleasant read to me.

    But on the bright side of things the next main comic issue 29 looks really good. And the preview for Sombra villain comic also looks promising.

    Looking forward your Fiendship is Magic reviews. :)

    1. I've already reserved the Fiendship is Magic series, so they'll definitely be along! The three-page preview I've seen of the Sombra one looks interesting, certainly...

      I went back and read the Big Mac arc (issues #9-#10) earlier. That was a five-star story, and I'm afraid what we've had lately from Cook just isn't up to that level.

      Agreed about Blackthorn, though. He was the best of the deer, no question.

    2. I actually saw Silver Quill review all the issues Katie did talking about her work, and he thought that she was mostly best at slice of life stories like that, rather than adventures; he thought the Chrysalis arc had flaws like the characters being Flanderized (I'm not sure if that actually was the case or not, never read the comics), and thought she had flaws from the beginning.

      They actually never found out what was making the Everfree Forest act like it was in this issue at all? If so, what another disappointment; and it's pointing out another flaw I'm afraid these new issues are having; it seems like it can't decide what its plot could be. In #25-26, they were searching for AJ's lost uncle, but he's still missing at the end, as if that plot point never existed...good reviews, based on what I've read here, when I get these comics, I'm skipping #25-28.

  2. As I mentioned in my comment for your "issue 27" review, I didn't actually mind that particular issue all that much - apart from the obvious problems, such as the somewhat obnoxious deer and the lack of Pinkies in every panel. And certainly compared to issues 25 and 26, it seemed a considerable improvement.

    However, to be quite honest I found issue 28 to be appallingly bad. It actually got to the point where I nearly stopped reading it halfway through. True, some of the expressions were amusing (such as Fluttershy when she's sat on the back of the manticore, and Well-To-Do's face was at times somewhat funny ) but mostly even that just didn't seem to be quite as imaginative as usual. I don't know... These last four issues are pretty much consigned to the "doubt I'll read them again" pile. I just hope the "quality" of those 4 issues isn't going to set a standard for the future.

    1. Interesting; this issue does seem to have had a very mixed response indeed. I suppose I was kinder to it simply because the deer were less obnoxious this time round, but the Idiot Ball stuff was fairly prevalent throughout.

      I've now read issue #29, incidentally. It's more like a Friends Forever issue in feel, if you ask me -- not terribly heavyweight, but cute and gently amusing. Certainly very different from this arc.

    2. I guess we expect better from the Cook/Price team. Still, hopefully a bit of a break will do them good. Maybe writing/drawing the Reflections story arc took a lot more out of them than they thought.

      Ah, well my copy of #29 arrived in the post just a few minutes ago so I shall be reading that tonight. If nothing else, it has a nice colourful (and amusing) cover, so that's a good start. :)

  3. Unfortunately (though I haven't read any of these comics yet), I'm afraid Katie's writing quality might be starting to fall apart here...I saw what #25 and #26 were like in another review, (not these ones here) and I found them to be REALLY bad. In fact, to me, they look like the worst MLP stories ever made.
    And considering how it seems that there are a lot of idiots in this issue...

    I just hope that the writing will get better after they take their break...