Thursday, 20 June 2013

Comic review: MLP:FiM Micro-series issue #5: Pinkie Pie

MLP:FiM Micro-series #5 Cover A
Amy Mebberson's very amusing Cover A
As usually seems to happen with IDW's My Little Pony comics, I was slightly taken aback by the quick release of issue #5 in the Micro-series, featuring Pinkie Pie. There's an all-new team for this one: writing duties are given to Ted Anderson, while the artwork is the responsibility of Ben Bates. Since I couldn't make it to Nostalgia & Comics this time, I spent £2.64 on a digital edition from Comixology. Apologies for the poorer-quality pictures than usual: I couldn't get screenshots to work properly, so resorted to photographing my monitor with a camera! Anyway, spoilers and such beyond the jump...

I must be honest: Pinkie isn't my favourite pony, for while her happiness and determined friendliness is sometimes infectious (see "Smile, Smile, Smile") she can also be, well, a bit of a pain. (See most of the rest of "A Friend In Deed".) Convincing me, therefore, was not going to be easy. First impressions weren't bad: Bates's style is nicely distinctive, his drawings have a lot of life and dynamism to them — which is particularly crucial in a Pinkie issue — and he's also in the "black character outlines" camp, something that pleases me.

Pinkie is excited
You'll believe an Earth pony can fly!
Actually, the sheer verve and fun of Bates's drawings were what enjoyed most about this issue, and the reason it was such fun to read. He's not afraid to break panel boundaries, sometimes on quite an epic scale. That might not work for every pony's story — it would have seemed a bit odd in Fluttershy's micro — but with Pinkie, you expect wall-breaking. It's just that it's usually the fourth one! (Oddly enough, that isn't really broken in this particular comic.) I'd certainly be interested to see what Bates made of another active character such as Rainbow Dash.

Anderson's text is very well observed, and you can really hear Pinkie speaking most of her lines in an episode of the show. It's also nice to see her in something other than out-and-out party mode at times. This story does in fact feel quite show-like, and could probably be adapted into an ep without much difficulty. I thought there was the odd weaker moment, though: for example, the passing mention of a pony named "Trollo Lollo" seemed like a rather forced reference. Still, the meat of the story works well, and I'd have no problem with Anderson writing for Pony again.

Ponyacci reminisces to Pinkie
Panel boundary-breaking at its finest
Since I was talking about references... the central guest character, Ponyacci, has a name that is likely to be really quite an obscure one to most people: it's a nod to Pagliacci, an Italian opera about a clown. I also liked this internal (to Equestria) reference: Pinkie tells Twilight (who plays a significant supporting role) that Ponyacci was her inspiration. When she's doing her routine to try to bring him out of retirement, she uses the very same "Spot remover" joke that failed to impress the twins in "Baby Cakes". This doesn't seem to be that ref-heavy a comic, though.

One of only a few minuses I can think of is that I'm not sure Bates is entirely successful in the way he draws Twilight: she seems a bit too wide-eyed at times. I'd also have liked to have seen some clowning from Gummy. I'll finish, though, with another positive: the letter to Princess Celestia was a nice one, absolutely in keeping with those we've seen in the show itself. And one line in particular — "You're never too old to be a part of what you love" — surely has to have been included with at least one eye on the older demographic!

Pinkie Pie's perfectly passionate party piece
Ben Bates clearly has an ink-filled party cannon!
Overall, then, issue #5 of the Micro-series has to be considered a success, especially given that I'm not that much of a Pinkie fan. It's a simple tale well told, as they say: nothing's too unpredictable and there are none of the twists we've had in the main series, but for a one-shot that's not a big problem. If Bates works for the comic again, I'd hope he practised a little more on drawing Twilight, but I'd also hope that he kept Pinkie just as he does here. Not the best micro so far, but possibly the second best behind Rarity's. Recommended.

  • Anderson and Bates nail Pinkie's character and energy
  • Wonderfully colourful and dynamic artwork
  • Had the feel of an episode of the show
  • Wrapped up nicely with a satisfying letter to Celestia
  • Twilight sometimes doesn't look quite right
  • Slightly predictable story

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