Thursday, 21 March 2013

Review: MLP:FiM Micro-Series issue #2: Rainbow Dash

MLP:FiM Micro-Series #2 Cover A
It's a sonic rainboom! How not cool could it possibly not be?!
After the launch issue of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Micro-Series left me a little underwhelmed, I was hoping that issue #2 (written by Ryan Lindsay and drawn by Tony Fleecs) could provide something a bit meatier. The fact that it stars Rainbow Dash gave cause for both optimism and anxiety: she's a very strong character, but also one who can easily be mishandled. I bought via Comixology again, though I have a paper copy (with Amy Mebberson's cover, as above) on order. I should mention that their customer service in sorting out a hiccup with my order was exemplary. But was my £2.73 worth it? You'll find out after the jump...

The short answer is yes. I enjoyed this comic considerably more than I did the Twilight Sparkle instalment which started the Micro-Series. It's still not up to the amazing standards set by Andy Price and Katie Cook in the main comics, but that's an almost ridiculously high bar to clear. There's plenty of scope for someone to jump pretty well while still staying below it, and that's what I think Lindsay and Fleecs have done. If this is the standard that the Micro-Series is usually going to reach, I think we'll be okay.

Spitfire saves Dash, who then vows to return
That is such a classic "confident Rainbow Dash" expression
The story is a fairly simple but generally satisfying one: Rainbow Dash, showing off (now there's a shock) at a summer festival, is about to wow the crowds with a "20% faster" rainboom — including a guitar, for some reason — but ends up in a thundercloud. This thundercloud, however, is home to a couple of gremlins. (And yes, they do look a bit like those Gremlins.) They're determined to upset Rainbow in order to feast on the negative emotions. This sounds a bit too similar to Chrysalis for comfort, but it's sufficiently different to work.

I generally like Fleecs' artistic style, certainly more than I liked Thom Zahler's in the previous Micro-Series comic. Fleecs keeps the trademark coloured outlines of the show, but allows the ponies a bit more expressive freedom than they'd get on screen, and for the most part it works. There are one or two slightly awkward moments: Rainbow does look a bit odd in the last panel on the penultimate page, for example. But they're certainly the exception rather than the rule. This looks right for My Little Pony.
Applejack brings Rainbow some shoes
No thoughts of shipping in this comic. No sirree
Lindsay provides a pretty solid story, which seems to hang together pretty well. Interestingly, he brings in Applejack in a substantial supporting role, and it mostly works. There are one or two eyebrow-raising moments (would AJ really call Dash "darlin'"?) and there's rather too much AppleDash fuel for my liking, but these are small complaints. More impressively, Rainbow is well characterised and her story is given a real sense of danger: at one point she even considers the possibility that she might not survive her adventure.

It's absolutely clear by now that IDW's comics are aimed at the brony market first and foremost, and so it's unsurprising that there are a ton of references and fandom nods packed into the comic. I was a bit surprised to see yet another David Bowie reference after the heap we got in the main series, but still. The one most fans will probably pick up on is an extended nod to the Tears in Rain soliloquy that closes Blade Runner. Surprisingly, it works. For the fandom we get Spitfire saving Dashie (nice reversal there) and a quiet Derpy appearance...
The Rainbow Dash-Tank brohoof!
I don't care what anyone says, this is awesome
...oh, and we also get to see Rainbow Dash giving Tank a brohoof. Yes, the actual word is used on the page, for what I think is the first time in any licensed publication. If it weren't for the truly awesome Sonic Double Rainboom a few pages later, that might have provided the single biggest talking point of the entire issue. Well, except for the aforementioned AppleDash nudges. But I'm not a shipper, so I'm afraid you'll have to read elsewhere for the inevitable reams of squeeing over that.

Other than the few small problems I've already picked out, there's not much wrong with this comic. I'm somehow a little uneasy about the introduction of TV to Equestria, even if it is in sepia, and a reference by AJ to pork chops seems out of place. There's also a potential .MOV reference, albeit to the tamest of the series, and I've never liked that series one bit. Overall, though, this is a solid, enjoyable read that feels like an extension of the Friendship is Magic show, and a comic which I can happily recommend.

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