I’m sure that many of you, like me, were super-ultra hyped about the MLP Comic when it first came out. Some of you may still feel that way, but let me tell you now, this will not be a positive review. Do not take it personally. (This counts as a disclaimer, right?) There are a few good things the comic does and many bad things; I will be focused on the bad. If you want to hear praise on the comic, listen to what Screenplay has to say. You’ll soon realize that I think about the comic itself, and the narrative, way too much.
You can say you’ve been warned.
Oh, and I guess there are spoilers too, if by some chance you haven’t got around to reading comic 1 yet.
I have to say that the art style was interesting, if nothing else. It was obviously very high-quality and very well done. The only beef I have with it is that it was sort of harsh. More on that past the cut.
The story isn’t bad, per se, it’s just unbelievably fast. Pacing, where art thou?
By far the worst part of the comic is that the characters–vibrant, interesting, and dynamic in the show–become absolutely one sided with little-to-no account given to their deeper selves.
If you would be so kind as to “Read More”, I will gladly show you what I mean. You know, by writing all over the comic.
Let’s start from the beginning. That is, typically, a very good place to start.
The vast majority of the covers are all fantastic. The fan references are pretty great, and I just love how the world is so blindly candy-colored. Not to mention Angel’s pretty awesome. Hasbro should do a show all about Angel. Just a spin-off of the main show. They could call it…Angel! I actually think that’s been done, already. Thanks, Joss Whedon!
Then we get to the first page, featuring the cutie mark crusaders being…stupid. Their dialogue isn’t terrible, they’re just a little stupider than they are in the show. (Be sure to click the images to make them bigger: I don’t expect you to be able to read them at this size.)
Okay, I take that back. They’re particularly stupid. Did they really expect to get a cutie mark in something to do with animals without any preparation in case they were to attack? Really? Also, where in the hay is this? At a zoo? Next to a forest? Both? Why are they doing this at nighttime? Sweetie Belle even acknowledges it’s nighttime, so it isn’t just cloudy or something. So, I guess I can’t really say I feel bad for them getting captured by possessed zoo animals. This partially invalidates the plot: the characters are going to rescue the CMC because they care about them. The reader probably doesn’t care about the CMC because they saw them doing something stupid and it totally makes sense they’d get attacked by animals. If the reader doesn’t care about what the mane characters care about, then there’s a quick way to lose the connection with those characters. But I will make no assumptions about what the reader cares about, so let’s continue.
Later in the comic,
So changelings totally don’t work like that. The point of changelings is that there is no difference between changelings and the pony they’re copying. But apparently they’re just zombies now. That’s cool, I guess. You know, if you want to use zombies as a plot device, along the same lines as basically everything ever. I have nothing against zombies, but changing something pre-created in the canon to have that plot is a little ridiculous. Then again, I’m pretty sure this is non-canon. At least I hope it is…
I mentioned earlier that the characters become impossibly one-sided.
Applejack is, perhaps, the most prominent example of this. Because “Honesty” or “Hard-Working” is difficult to portray, for some reason they’ve defaulted her to “Anger.”
Maybe with the exception of 2-3 instances where she appears, she is always making an incredibly angry face. This is understandable, to an extent: if my sister was whisked away by possessed zoo animals after making no preparations in case of an animal attack, I’d be pretty mad too.
But since she has to do something about it, that’s the time the character shows that they’re capable of thinking, of making decisions, of buckling down and doing some work. She remains angry basically this entire time.
Which brings me to a bigger issue: each of these characters become the most base version of themselves. Some of the less developed characters in the show (like Rarity…sorry! Had to say it!) become rather difficult to read. Yes, Rarity. I get it. You like fashion and are dramatic. Great. Now please do something or be interesting in some other way!
(Note: I know that the characters develop a teensy bit more in the coming comics, but you’ll have to wait till I review comic 2 to hear about it!)
Remember earlier how Twilight showed her book on what the “infected” (or changelings looking like ponies) looked like? That’s just not true now, for some reason, because they can’t tell themselves apart from the changelings.
Good job being consistent, comic.
Also, and I will only bring this up once cause I really could blab a lot about this, Fighting is Magic was totally way tamer than this. Just putting that out there.
This page brings up another excellent example of character one-sidedness. Fluttershy! She’s shy! She’s scared of everything! She REALLY is. Minus 2-3 panels, she is basically cowering the entire comic. But she YELLS on this page! Wow! Normally nice people don’t do that! That makes her well-developed and interesting, right?
By creating a gag over that for one panel Fluttershy isn’t cowering, the narrative only emphasizes the fact that she’s had only one emotion for the entire comic. (Fortunately, she does get more interesting in later comics–more in that in the next review.)
First Problem: The CMC are fairly chill. They’re not in pain, they’re not passed out, they’re just sitting there annoying Queen Chrysalis. This doesn’t help the already weak narrative become any stronger. Sure, Applejack and Rarity love their sisters and I’m certain Rainbow Dash sort of likes her most dedicated groupie, but what drives the other characters? Obligation to their friends? To the CMC?
“Obligation” is not a good thing to have drive an entire adventure. Obligation drives you to do things like go to weddings for ugly family members and take care of your neighbor’s smelly cat, not go on epic comic-book adventures.
For the most part, the individual motivation for these characters is really not well-defined. What is Chrysalis even doing if she has control of Ponyville and then takes three blank flanks? (This is explained in a later comic, but it really should have come earlier…because, as of Comic 1, it just looks like she’s being evil just for the sake of being evil, which is remarkably boring.)
Then, Queen Chrysalis gives a completely arbitrary deadline for the characters to journey to the Changeling Kingdom. The problem here is that that number doesn’t mean anything. If in three days the moon and stars aligned to create a “Death to all Blank Flanks” beam that she was going to put them under, okay. That’s valid.
The fact that we don’t know what’s going to happen to them at the end of that time again means there’s basically no motivation to go rescue them at this point, except, for at this point, obligation.
To end on a positive point: I really love the art of this entire comic. Queen Chrysalis, in particular, is absolutely beautiful. The colors are pretty freaking sweet, and I can basically back this entire comic on the basis of its art.
Overall, very weak narrative, but awesome art.