Friday, 30 August 2013

Comic review: MLP:FiM Micro-series issue #7: Cutie Mark Crusaders

MLP:FiM micro #7 cover
ScootaDash and Doctor Bloom: Amy Mebberson's great cover
Finally! After a delay caused partly by BUCK and partly by the inability of UK distributors to get this thing out in time, I can return to comic reviews with this, the first non-Mane Six micro. The CMC were always a likely choice for this issue, since they're very popular in the fandom at large (including with me!) and there's plenty of scope for them to go on mini-adventures. I bought my copy for the usual £3.15 in the usual Nostalgia and Comics. Past the jump, we'll find out more!

This comic was written by Ted Anderson and drawn by Ben Bates — the same team that produced the excellent Pinkie Pie micro a couple of months ago. However, the look of the art has changed markedly from that comic. Bates has decided to use a highly distinctive style which can best be described as "sketchy watercolours". Whether it always works or not is arguable — though one big panel of Scootaloo on her scooter is undeniably fabulous, and personally I'd buy a print of it! — but it's certainly striking.

Scootaloo, scooting
Maybe if you used all four wheels you'd be faster...
As for the writing, the story in this comic reminds me in some ways of the previous micro, which featured Applejack. The story of Imp is not really the most thrilling — she had potential for more, I think — and Pinkie's micro was certainly better in that regard. However, the characterisation and dialogue for the CMC is very nearly perfect. I have to say "very nearly" because (probably for reasons of space) the fillies say things like "cutie mark survivalists", when to be show-accurate there should be a "crusaders" in there too.

There are fewer references in here than you'd find in a Cook/Price/Breckel comic, but then it's unlikely that any other team could match that trio. And the one a lot of people are geeking out about — the dress that shouts out to Mystery Science Theater 3000 — passed me by completely because I don't like MST3K. Sorry, but I don't. Still, there are several other references I did get, including some to other elements within the pony world: the CMC have an Ursa Minor doll in their toy box, for example.

Finding out about the mimicker
Spike has positioned himself next to Rarity. How terribly surprising
Oddly, many of the early pages are numbered at the bottom, but this ceases entirely after halfway as the art breaks the panel boundaries more and more. The ultimate expression of this is in the double-page spread of Ponyville Flea Market. This again suffers a little by comparison to Andy Price stuff, but it's still quite nicely done. It's nice to discover things like the Where's Wally? pony or the smirking pickpocket. The cutie mark-painting stall made me smile, but why are there several Scootaloos at the fair? Changelings again...?

All in all, this is another solid issue in the Micro-series. I wouldn't call it an absolutely classic comic by My Little Pony's very high standards, but it's certainly not a disappointment either. The art style will be a matter of personal taste, but the story itself is a little bit thin. On the plus side, characterisation is generally excellent. The word to describe this comic might well be "solid", as with the AJ micro. Worth buying certainly, but don't expect one of the all-time great MLP experiences.

The flea market double spread
Clearly ponies pick up an awful lot of fleas
  • Mostly excellent characterisation
  • Striking artistic style
  • The story doesn't have much to it
  • Imp could have been made more interesting

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