The Weekly Pull (3/6/13) – MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #4

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After four months, the Return of Queen Chrysalis comes to an end. MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #4 has our heroines storming the fortress of the changeling queen to end her reign of terror and save their captured comic relief squad. But with a magic comet close to Equestria, will they have the power to overcome the villain’s magics? Will Twilight Sparkle, chosen one of the element of magic itself, be able to bring its force to bear? And in all of this, where is Princess Celestia?

For those not up to date, the second season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic ended with a fight against Queen Chrysalis of the changelings. That story ended with her and her forces getting knocked out so hard they were flung into distant lands, where she licked her wounds and plotted revenge against series main character Twilight Sparkle. This comic began with her invading Ponyville and kidnapping the Cutie Mark Crusaders, a trio of young ponies that sometimes get the limelight in the show. And because two of them are related to main characters, the Mane Six as they’re called go on a journey to rescue them.

In those rare moments of clarity, I wonder what’s become of my life if I spend so much time writing about the adventures of ponies. These moments, thankfully, pass quickly and without incident.

Of course because Chrysalis invited the Mane Six to come to her castle (and even left a map), the whole thing is a trap. Duh. It’s not even a new bit of information that the Queen wants to drain Twilight’s magic because I guess changelings can do that in addition to draining emotions.

But before any of that can possibly commence, the group must get through a castle filled with references to pop culture, as is the way of Friendship is Magic. Notable references include Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Stephen King’s IT, the Phantom of the Opera, and The Shining. I’m just kind of sad no one actually says the phrase “They all float”.

That would have made my day. Tim Curry is one of my favorite actors.

The resolution was pretty sweet, although it gets bogged down in a lot of talk of love. I would think the vampire of love would know a few things herself about how powerful it can be, but apparently we’ve devolved into “you can’t defeat love because you can’t understand it”. If there’s a major failing of MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #4, it’s how thick they lay this theme on. And how once again most of the mane six don’t contribute at all towards the defeat of Chrysalis.

Oh, did I spoil the ending? Did I ruin it for everyone by revealing that the villain in a kids comic gets defeated by the good guys? Yeah that’s what I thought.

Far more impressive is the art of this issue. In previous installments I have the feeling the artist was still getting their bearings on the work, but this one shows real craftsmanship. Plus the layouts, while still cluttered, at least flow much better in this than in previous issues.

And in a move not seen since the first issue, issue four rounds out the remaining pages with a backup story. It shows what Princess Celestia and Spike the dragon were doing while the mane six were fighting the changelings. It comes to us from Katie Cook whose style I don’t like as much as the one for the main story, but is still pretty good in its own right. Much better I think than the one for the My Little Pony Micro-Series.

Seriously, that depiction of Spike still haunts my dreams.

After all of this time, do I still recommend this comic? And I mean that to everyone, and not just MLP fans who obviously need to be reading this. I do indeed, if only because the comic takes the setting and characters in a new direction. It’s definitely more catered to the older part of the fanbase.

My concern now is where the comic intends to go from here. The show’s format works by bookending seasons with high action, high fantasy epics against great evils, and then spends much of the remaining episodes doing normal girls cartoon fair (albeit normally very good on that front as well). The comic doesn’t give us any clues as to what’s coming next, so I have no way of knowing if the current story arc format will be maintained, or if more episodic stuff will predominate.

I guess I’ll continue to watch and report my findings. Like this is some kind of scientific study, instead of a comic about ponies.

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