While the main My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic ongoing series is embroiled in an equally ongoing storyline, IDW has begun a miniseries exploring the individual members of the Mane Six. MY LITTLE PONY MICRO-SERIES #1 begins with a one-issue story featuring Twilight Sparkle.
I don’t think I need to explain what My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is. It’s the reboot of the classic eighties cartoon franchise for little girls that just so happens to be beloved by adults as well as children. The internet finds it either fascinating or cancerous, depending on who you ask. I stand in the former category, and if you’re reading this at all you probably don’t stand in the latter.
The important thing about the show is that there are six primary ponies around whom most plots revolve; the “Mane Six” as the pun goes. They are as follows: Twilight Sparkle, bookworm and gifted student of magic around whom the group was formed. Applejack, apple farmer and cowgirl (in a manner of speaking) with a mind for hard work and honesty. Rainbow Dash, expert flyer and loyal tomboy with a competitive spirit and a pride arguably justified because of her skill. Rarity, fashion designer and prima donna with a generous heart (when she’s not lusting over prestige or gems). Pinkie Pie, party animal and trickster breaker of the fourth wall, who loves nothing more than laughter and having fun. And Fluttershy, meek and kind hearted friend to all the animals, frail and prone to becoming a doormat (in fact it’s more unpleasant for everyone involved when she does assert herself).
Since the current comic series is busy with the group fighting evil, emotion eating parasite tyrants – you know, as you do – this miniseries will take an issue to explore each of the six. First up, it’s group leader Twilight Sparkle.
Obviously we have neither the time nor the energy to put Twilight through some massive quest to save Equestria, so MY LITTLE PONY MICRO-SERIES #1 sticks closer to the source material as it is during ninety percent of the time. In between season premieres and finales, the show would just have plots closer to Earth; more children’s show fair than epic fantasy battles. Where characters learn lessons and deal with everyday stuff.
I know that sounds boring and childish, but hear me out.
In a bit of excuse plotting to get where the real story is, Twilight meets her teacher/ruler Princess Celestia to take a magical exam. Only for Celestia to postpone it because the royal archivist broke her leg and Celestia wants Twilight to help her in the royal archives until she’s healed. Savvy persons would guess that this, like most of what Celestia does, is part of some ulterior motive (for good of course).
By the way, the fact that the royal archivist broke her leg sounds more disturbing to me personally. After all, if an equine in real life were to break its leg, its owner would have to put it down.
Moving away from the grim thoughts of our sucky reality not fueled by friendship magic, it turns out the royal archivist is a disgruntled mare who is actively negative towards Twilight’s presence. Also she’s a librarian in the most stereotypical sense, so she takes books very seriously. As you can guess, this issue proceeds with Twilight helping the archivist to not be so much of a stubborn mule, as they bond over their mutual love of books. And something else, a plot twist so telegraphed I refuse to spoil it further.
Then again, I’m more savvy than most so I would figure it out early. Or at least I would, if it hadn’t been spoiled by IDW’s solicitations for the issue.
I’m serious. IDW, when it was soliciting the issue months back, actually phrased the plot synopsis in such a fashion as to spoil the plot twist. It’s like if, back in the eighties, Watchmen had been talked about before its release by stating, from the beginning, that Ozymandias was the antagonist, even though readers aren’t meant to know that until near the end.
On a character note, I like how the relationship between Twilight and the archivist develops. It’s readily apparent the latter has much in common with the young magician, and just needs time to see it. The main conflict is just from her making assumptions about Twilight being like every other young pony her age.
By the way, the comic directly refers to both comic books and a “vampire pony” novel. As is the pattern with Friendship is Magic, MY LITTLE PONY MICRO-SERIES #1 sprinkles references here and there to pop culture, mostly literature references given the library setting. There’s references to Pride and Prejudice, Barnes & Noble, and even – and I swear you aren’t ready for this – I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.
I can’t see your expression, but I can picture it exactly in my mind. Yes, they made a reference to one of the bleakest SF horror stories in fiction (and one of the best horror adventure games ever made). In My Little Pony. What do I even say in response to that?
The art is…passable. It’s almost never bad, except at the very beginning. Unlike the main ongoing series, this issue (don’t know if the same artist is on the entire miniseries) takes things less stylized and more towards the show’s character designs. Except it all has an off-model feel, like things are close but subtly off. It’s probably just the artist trying to replicate the art of the show, and to his credit it’s pretty close. Where it really goes into the uncanny valley – a feat I didn’t even think was physically possible in the cartoon medium – is with two characters in particular that, thankfully, appear only briefly: Princess Celestia and Spike the dragon. Something about how Celestia’s head moves looks weird, and Spike suffers horribly from the fact that comics are a still medium. His expressions are frozen in wide eyed, mouth agape horror. It’s just weird, and hopefully it will get better as the miniseries goes on.
It’s funny how trying to stick as close as possible to the in-show model creates such a wide disconnect, whereas just doing art the way the artist wants it looks less disquieting.
So did I enjoy this issue? Sure, why not. I think it could have done with more polish, but as it was I enjoyed myself well enough. Does this mean I’m going to read the adventures of the other five ponies? Probably not. As I’ve no doubt explained many times before, I buy to many comics as it is these days, so a book that’s just okay is not going to do enough for me to justify following it beyond this, even if only for six months. Then again, I might check out the thing later on, depending on the individual pony on display. Which might be MY LITTLE PONY MICRO-SERIES best point: readers can read any issue without care for the others. If you just want to read about Twilight Sparkle, you can. If you just want to see what fresh insanity Pinkie Pie gets into, you won’t be punished for it.
Next month features Rainbow Dash. Someone tell me how that goes, assuming I don’t check it out myself.