Dan Hart writes for Bleeding Cool;
So, this week sees the release of the most pre-ordered comic in the world, this month at least. (Rich adds… yeah, Amazing Spider-Man, All New X-Men, Uncanny Avengers or Batman might just have the lead. But still, over 100,000… ) IDW's latest licenced property is the hugely popular cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and by the looks of pre-orders, it's going to be HUGE. Take that, Marvel NOW and DC New 52!
Curious about the hub-bub surrounding the franchise, and wondering why it had garnered such high pre-orders, I came to this book from a position of utter ignorance. I'm aware that this book is eagerly awaited by kids and adults alike, its' source material being a cartoon of such popularity that the earth vibrates with a communal "SQUEEE!" every time a new episode airs.
Coming from one of the story artists for The Powerpuff Girls (Another cartoon that transcended superficial gender & age-group boundaries) the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has been a huge hit for a franchise that hadn't seen any new episodes on TV for almost 20 years and ultimately spawned this new comic book.
However, prior to picking this up, I had no idea why some ponies were pegasi, while others were unicorns. I had no idea what a cutie mark was, nor why some ponies wore clothes & accessories while others went au naturel, but none of that mattered in the slightest. What I found was a fun, smart, self-aware comic that has as much to offer the older more cynical readers as it does younger ones. I found the same feeling of light-hearted fun as I got from (The much-missed) Tiny Titans and that's no bad thing.
Written by Katie Cook, with art by Andy Price, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic takes its' name straight from the cartoon and carries the same feeling of light-hearted fun with just enough humour that works for all ages. Cook's webcomic Gronk (www.gronkcomic.com webcomic fans!) has a very sharp eye for the absurdity of modern life seen through an innocent's eyes, coupled with the wit of a much savvier personality than that of the main character. I must admit, Katie's name being attached to the book was what caught my eye. Ever since her self-published, insightful, seminal work on Domesticated Animal Psychology "Fuck you, Box" I've enjoyed her work and eagerly awaited her next project.
As a first issue it ticks all the right boxes; the premise, status quo and core are cast introduced quickly and concisely. The issue feels self-contained enough to be satisfying, but has a cliff-hanger to bring you back for the next issue. Too often I feel that many new series treat their first issue as just part of a larger story and assume you'll be back for explanations in later issues (DC New 52, I'm looking at you here…) but here we've got a perfectly paced and packaged parcel of Ponies.
We meet the younger siblings of the main characters, then the leads themselves and within a page of meeting each, it becomes clear as to what differentiates each. While some may cry "Archetypes!" that's no bad thing in a book like this. Better to have clearly defined personalities than vague ones, surely?
"But, Dapper Dan!" I hear you cry "What actually happens in this issue?!" Well, in brief; the plot is a (surprisingly dark) body-snatchers affair with the leads slowly realising strange things are a-foot/hoof in the land of Equestria.
It's hard to overstate how well Price has performed here. His work on the facial expressions really gives the book life. Exaggerated and over the top, funny and well-executed nonetheless.
One other aspect of MLP:FIM (Sorry for the acronym, but it's a long title to keep typing) that I really enjoyed was that the issue features visual and plot-related pop-culture references coming out the wazoo. Cook and Price #(As I'm guessing these details were a collaborative effort) have worked overtime in cramming the splash pages and panels full of visual gags.
Two words for you: Magnum. Pony.
OK, one more; Three words for you: Blues. Brothers. Ponies
For the OCD fans among you, there's a TON of variant covers for the book, some exclusive to specific stores, like Larry's Comics, and some standard alternate covers available at most retailers. Gotta Catch 'Em All! (Wait… No… Wrong franchise…) I suspect Midtown Comics "Derpy Hooves" cover will prove quite popular.
In closing, to answer your questions:
Yes, you should pick this up, especially if you have younger kids who like the show, or if you or anyone you know misses Tiny Titans.
Yes, I am going to watch an episode or two of the show to see what it's like.
No, I don't have a favourite Pony*
*Yes I do, it's Rainbow Dash.