Group Review – My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic #20 (IDW Publishing)

MyLittlePony20-covAPublisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Katie Cook
Artist: Andy Price
Release Date: 25th June 2014

This week’s group review is a little different to previous incarnations, in that it features six completely new additions to the BCP review team.  So sit back, relax, and take a look at what our new faces had to say about the magical world of My Little Pony…

Dean Says..

To all the bronies and pegasisters out there I say forget all the neigh-sayers who like to stirrup emotions and leave you feeling horse. They wont be there furlong and soon you’ll be their worst night mare. Your stable population is ahead of the pack it wont be long until you win the race and reign supreme.

Ok had to get all those puns out my system, it’s time to  stop horsing around and get down to business.

After banishing her sister to the moon for eating the last sugar cube, Princess Celestia faces the end of extinction for the My Little Pony multiverse as her evil counterpart is brewing up a storm. By merging their two worlds together, evil Celestia plans eliminate her goody two shoes other half and rule over both worlds. Meanwhile deep in the shadows of the multiverse, The Anti-Monitor sits patiently with a six pack and a pizza for the battle to end before making his move.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is the kind of comic that makes you wish you could crap sparkles and fart rainbows. With its whimsical charm and childlike nostalgia it’s no wonder grown men can feel attached to such an innocent, fun loving series. Its humour is innocent enough for children but subtle enough for adults to enjoy and get a chuckle from the subtext. The comic takes itself very seriously with dark tones and complex story lines and never feels like it’s pandering to children. Instead it looks at itself from the point of view of it’s entire demographic, from the kids to the parents to the bronies.

The art work is done very well using bright and flashy colours across each panel with the detail stretching beyond the foreground to match its dark atmosphere. the colours help give each pony a distinctive look and personality and are incredibly detailed in their simplistic designs. This is another one of the comics strengths, its balance of detail and simplicity, from the dialogue from characters to those little tidbits and easter eggs in the background.

Overall, Friendship is Magic is a good comic book series and not just another cash cow to get kids to buy their merchandise. It has all the humour, charm and wit that went into the TV series with enough action and drama to make you almost forget your reading about magical rainbow farting ponies.

Rating: 3/5.

Sam Says..

IDW’s treading a tightrope here: a kids’ comic that’ll keep the adults entertained. Throw in a mirror reality plotline, and you’re at real risk of alienating everyone. I was keen to see how it worked; I’m no brony, but I’ll read anything with a pretty open mind. Looking at it, from the outset it’s bright and bold, continuing that tongue in cheek, PowerPuff aesthetic – Heather Breckel absolutely nails the palette. There’s some great framing, which really adds to the action without being intrusive; generally, Andy Price’s art is dynamic, quirky and genuinely evokes emotion from the characters, which is no mean feat.

So what of Katy Cook’s script? The dialogue is sharply self referential, which is both a good and bad thing. In places, it’s a little too self aware, actively winking at the audience with its various parallel reality references. Whilst very clever, it’s really not going to keep the kids interested. Equally, we know how the plot’s going turn out – which is always the danger with these stories. This one’s definitely going to please its extant fan base, and as a casual observer it’s a pretty good way of seeing what the fuss is about. I might not pick it up, but I’m not going to run from it screaming like a little girl – or a big one, for that matter.

Rating: 3/5.

Stuart Says..

Having never read My Little Pony before, I felt a little out of my depth. However I’m open to giving most things a go at least once. First of the bat was the utterly cute and kind of striking variant covers that are available, good dynamic characters are always a good hook for new and regular readers.

The artwork itself was very reminiscent of The Powerpuff Girls, which always makes for an attractive read. The splash pages and mix of panel configuration keeps the action fluid and fresh. Its not easy to have so many characters on the page and with this much colour without losing a sense of direction in the story. So its exciting to see a good stream of character moving the story and not getting lost in it.

Speaking of story, its a good effort and having fallen head first into it I didn’t feel overly out of sync. The characters where easily defined and it played like a good Jim Henson movie, fun and frantic with some exciting scenes fleshed out over a little heartbreak, and who doesn’t like a little loss when it comes to love? Especially when you have a hero making some hard choices.

The mirror world and clashing of alternate selves is not a new story angle but it reads with a different and unique perspective. I particularly enjoyed how ‘knowing’ some of the characters where within the action, breaking the fourth wall can be a quirk that can be stretched to far but here the cute out weighed danger pretty well.

All in all I’d give this another shot, it’s not really aimed at my demographic but it has enough going for it that i’d give it another issue.

Andrew Says..

As unbelievable as it may seem, the juggernaut My Little Pony franchise has not yet fully assimilated the entire world. I’ve so far managed to avoid seeing, reading or, well, knowing anything related to this infamous cultural phenomenon. So when it fell upon me to review issue 20 of IDW’s ongoing MLP comic series I was going in drier than Alcoholics Anonymous.

So how does this story-arc-closing issue treat the uninitiated? Surprisingly well actually. Aside from the only recap page I’ve ever needed to read, the story is clearly recounted through callbacks without ever becoming bogged down with them and character motivations are dealt with within the first few pages. Maybe it’s because, as a Star Trek fan, I’m predisposed to instinctively understand the type of ‘Mirror Universe’ story on offer here, but the comic certainly doesn’t require an in-depth knowledge of the lore to be enjoyable.

This enjoyment and clarity is fuelled by characters who all have clearly defined and unique voices; running the gamut from bookish neuroses to reckless confidence, and even an airheaded pink pony which manages to be more endearing than annoying. The dichotomy between Celestia and Luna’s ‘Mirror Universe’ counterparts and themselves also taught me far more about those character’s motivations than I ever imagined a single issue ever could.

All of this is supported by art which far exceeded my expectations. As a veteran of some of the worse issues of IDW’s Star Trek series I fully expected flat, green field backgrounds upon which characters would slide in profile to deliver dialogue. Instead I found art which was expressive, crisp and not afraid to go off-model to deliver weighty action or background humour. The shadow work in particular excels at the seemingly impossible task of making cartoon ponies feel menacing and threatening.

To conclude, I remain surprised by this comic. The story, which resolves with a real sense of sacrifice and loss, feels as epic as any event comic from the Big Two. For a comic ostensibly aimed at kids it never talks down to its audience, assuming they are as interested in reading a gripping story as the comic is in telling it.

p.s. here’s the Star Trek art I was referencing:


I don’t know how someone could miss that

Rating: 4/5 for the uninitiated, and 5/5 for kids looking for more good comics.

Garry Says..

IDW has made space in the market with a succession of franchise tie-ins, and My Little Pony, an adaptation of the cartoon series, is an example of their success. As a newcomer to MLP in any form, I arrived this issue at the end of an arc – an epic tale that seemed like a cross between Infinite Pony Crisis and the Dark Pony Saga.

A quick blurb at the start (once you’ve waded through multiple variant covers) lets the reader catch up, before the climax of the story unfolds. Multiple pony friends have travelled to a dark version of their ‘equestria’ and, facing shadows of themselves, have to work out how to close the bridge between these two worlds before it engulfs them all in some unnameable chaos.

So far so EPIC. The book itself is very dialogue heavy, with the bubble count being worthy of B. M. Bendis himself, surprising since this is ostensibly a kids’ book.

The action, when it gets going, is frenetic, and it’s often hard to keep track of who’s who, which makes the story rather confusing, a fact not helped by the stylised art. That combined with the sophisticated language, the knowing nods to the reader, and the over-use of dialogue, makes it seem as though the book might not be primarily targeted towards kids but a slightly older readership, who may appreciate this ironically.

Morals are present, so beloved of kids’ cartoons since the dawn of time; the monarch of the ponies has caused all this chaos because she’s been dabbling in secret magic and has fallen in love with the good version of their enemy. It’s only when she learns to give up her own selfish needs that she can save the day.

Any redemptive arc, though, is lost in a mass of characters and a confused plot that trots out (gettit?) the same old “good versus shadow selves” tale we’ve read many times before. So in all, it’s not likely to convert anyone, but it’ll probably be amusing and thrilling in parts to existing fans.

Rating: 2/5.

Martin Says..

Hasbro’s My Little Pony started life as a beloved toy line and cartoon in the early 1980’s. Like most properties from that period, the brand had disappeared from view until relatively recently, undergoing a resurgence in popularity due in no small part to the legions of loyal ‘Bronies’ (comprised of a surprising demographic of 18-35 year old males), a group of unabashed MLP geeks and the subject of a documentary made in 2010.

As a testament to the growing strength of the property IDW picked up the license in 2012 creating an ongoing series that has now run for 20 issues. The latest release brings to a close the Reflections story arc, which sees the Ponies, led by Twilight Sparkle, crossing dimensions into an alternate reality where good and evil are reversed. Princess Celestia’s love for that reality’s good King Sombra has upset the balance of the universe, an event which is threatening a catastrophic merging of both worlds.

The plot reads like something from a superhero comic; alternate universes, reversal of good and evil, dimensional instability, forbidden love, etc. There is even room for a little breaking of the fourth wall, believe it or not! The issue really challenged my perceptions and I found it to be a fun story, if somewhat shallow in parts. Pacing is a little slow, especially in the first half, and humour is pitched at a kid-friendly level, whilst retaining a decent depth of story to keep older audiences interested.

The artwork in general is good; the main characters are conceptually simple, but well rendered. Colours, as you might expect, are bright, bordering on garish from a tonal perspective, particularly the backgrounds, which are fairly basic and low on detail.

In all, I was pleasantly surprised by first experience of My Little Pony. The nature of the plot took me by surprise and was not as straightforward as I had envisioned. With such a wide demographic to cater for, it must be difficult to balance expectations, but the creative team handle the responsibility admirably.

Rating: 2/5.

2 Comments on Group Review – My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic #20 (IDW Publishing)

  1. my fave pony is fluttershy

  2. kacie homrighausen // August 27, 2014 at 11:11 pm // Reply

    I love mlp my favorite ponies are luna , twilight sparkle, rainbow dash and … …… . night mare rarity

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