Sunday 20 July 2014

Comic review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic issue 21

MLP:FiM comic issue 21, cover B
The excellent Cover B, by MLP new boy Bill Forster
The "Reflections" arc that came to an end last month really divided opinion. Some (hi there, 4chan) were wildly negative, some had mixed views and some (like me) loved the thing. This month, we're back to slightly more conventional My Little Pony fare. The first half of a two-issue arc from Ted Anderson and Agnes Garbowska brings back Trixie (not that she'd been gone very long!) and takes us to Manehattan. For more, come with me!

It may seem a little bit surprising to feature Trixie so soon after her Friends Forever role – but as that was also drawn by Garbowska, it does make some sense. There's even a brief reference to the earlier comic here. She's back working as a stage magician now, though, wowing audiences at Manehattan's Carneighgie Hall with her routine. That is, until her carefully set up trick involving the disappearance of a fabled diamond goes wrong, revealing the involvement of the infamous criminal, Rough Diamond.

This looks like being a crime/detective caper story, which so far is working well. The choice of cast is interesting: backing up Trixie, we have several Apples (Applejack, Apple Bloom and a welcome return for Babs Seed) as well as Rarity and Fluttershy. There's also an amusing guest cast of police officers, agents and of course the populace of the great metropolis. I do think the subway looks far too modern (sliding doors?!), as do the cops, but it doesn't spoil the fun too much.

The police and our friends reach Clyde's office
Do the Royal Guards not operate in Manehattan, then?
Garbowska has gained a pretty good reputation for her art among Pony fans, and with one significant caveat she lives up to it this time around. There's a nice combination of cuteness and energy in her drawings, and she's good at facial expressions, too. (Witness Applejack in the audience at the start!) The one problem I have is with the poses: there are way, way too many human-style bipedal shots. In Trixie's act, fine. But come on: these are quadrupeds.

There are some nice references and background gags in this issue. We see Photo Finish, Sapphire Shores and Octavia at Carneighgie Hall right at the start, with Octavia even telling a very well-worn joke about the location. The officers make... interesting use of Trixie's giant pudding. Applejack wears her "Apple Jewel" dress from "Simple Ways". Best of all, though, is the safe combination of 4-14-84: April 14th, 1984 was the air date of Rescue at Midnight Castle.

I feel that this is a pretty solid effort, and one that will probably be less divisive in the fandom than "Reflections". It's not really a story that looks likely to set the world on fire, but (tech and poses aside) there's nothing really to complain about, either. It's good to see a different selection of ponies from what we've had before, and they seem to be creating decent chemistry. It's less ambitious than "Reflections", but if you're looking for simple, fun pony silliness, then this is it.

Trixie and the others escape the police
Babs seems to have given up and taken a nap...
  • Light-hearted caper silliness
  • Nice to see Babs back again
  • Interesting choice of characters
  • Potentially intriguing crime drama
  • Far too many human poses
  • Even for Manehattan, the tech levels are pushing it


  1. I can't quite make my mind up about this issue. The artwork is cute and colourful, but I suspect I've perhaps been somewhat spoiled with the last 4 issues, Reflections, having been done by Mr Price. I guess it just feels fairly lacking in detail in comparison, but maybe that's not a fair way to look at it. It suits the story, I thought, which is the main thing.

    The story itself seems decent enough, but again I suppose it has a lot to live up to after 17-20. And as a whole it seemed interesting enough that I'm keen to find out what happens next. I did think the whole set-up, which turned Trixie's entire plan back on her, was cleverly done. Goodness knows whodunnit though! And it was kind of sad really, because it seems Trixie genuinally wanted to do good this time, and it's all backfired.

    I hadn't really noticed the human poses but now you mention it, they do seem to be used rather too often. I was also slightly "thrown" by Trixie announcing that she'd hidden "a chip" in the fake jewel, which seemed somewhat hi-tech for Equestria. It doesn't harm the story really, but it seemed a bit strange. Then again there is that computer device in "Feeling Pinkie Keen" as well as the DJ equipment used by Ms Scratch, so maybe they do have microchips. :)

    Still, although I've not quite settled on what score I'd *personally* give this issue, it sure as heck beats a lot of other comics out there and I'm very glad to have it. And compared to the art shown for that GI-Joe/Transformers comic in the advert near the back, Garbowska's artwork is positively genius level...

    1. I may be a little generous with my 8/10, but I re-read the comic just now and I really did enjoy it, annoying poses apart. It does depend a lot on how the story is resolved next month, of course.

      The writer I'd really like to see back is Heather Nuhfer (who did the "Nightmare Rarity" arc) but I haven't heard anything about her returning, sadly.

    2. Yeah, having given it another read, I definitely found I enjoyed it a lot more. I think maybe it's that huge jump in difference between the 4 issues of Andy Price art and then a totally different style. But it does seem to suit the story, I think, and it's certainly cute! :)

      Ah, Heather Nuhfer. If only she'd return even if only for a one off issue. I noticed there's not really much information on Wikipedia about her, but I suppose there's always the hope she'll return to MLP one day.