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If you haven’t read the My Little Pony comics yet, you’ve probably been wondering: are they any good? Are they important? Should I read them? The answer to all of these is ABSOLUTELY FUCKING YES.
These comics are pure gold. The mainline series features incredibly detailed, gorgeous artwork that’s made Andy Price into one of my favorite comic artists. Each arc is paced perfectly, packed with content, and often does a better job telling its story than most episodes of the show. Characterization is completely on-point, and characters who don’t get enough screentime in the show get more in the comics. They give backstory, explain plots from the show in greater detail, and certain arcs are possibly better than anything the show has ever done. And it’s all canon—the comic writers work directly with the show writers to make sure that everything gels perfectly.
Most of the issues are packed with easter eggs and tons of pop culture references, and are allowed to venture into much darker and scarier territory than the show is at liberty to explore. The hand-drawn style allows the characters a much larger range of emotive expressions, and my god have I mentioned how fucking great the art and colorization are altogether?
I’m telling you all this because unlike episodes of the show, a significant portion of the MLP fandom hasn’t actually read the comics, so for the first time on my channel I feel the need to give a spoiler warning. If you’ve been on the fence about the comics until now, but still don’t want to be spoiled for them, take my endorsement and go. If you can’t find them in stores or online,you can buy electronic versions from comixology, linked below. If you really, truly can’t afford the comics or get ahold of them in your area, it may behoove you to dig around in the description of this video.
I’ll be breaking this video into sections for each arc of the comic, so that those of you who aren’t caught up won’t be spoiled either, and within those sections I’ll start with more summarizing points before moving into the spoiler territory. There should be extensive annotations in the description to help you navigate the spoiler minefield. NOW THEN!
The first arc of the main series is the Return of Queen Chrysalis. It’s an adventure arc in the vein of a season premiere, and mostly acts as a way of introducing us to the comics with a lot of flair. The story is pretty standard for pony: the changelings take over Ponyville and kidnap the Cutie Mark Crusaders, so Twilight and friends have to journey to Chrysalis’ castle in order to save them. It’s simple enough, but the format is tight and perfectly structured. Whereas episodes of the show tend to linger too long at the beginning and end, and rush through the mid-section of the adventure, the 4-issue structure of this arc allows it to really flesh out each scenario that the characters go through and pack them with great jokes and exciting visuals.
Throughout issues 2 and 3, there’s a storyline about the changelings turning the mane six against one-another by using their voices to say awful things about each-other, and at first I could’ve sworn the show had done this plotline already, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. The closest things are the Discord arc and Party of One. I guess it just shows how pony is kind of predictable in an endearing way, like this plot was such an obvious choice that it’s shocking it wasn’t done already. In any case, it’s handled very well in the comics as a way to split up the group into three seperate adventures, while creating conflict at the same time.
By far the coolest thing about this arc though is just getting to spend more time with and learn more about Queen Chrysalis and the changelings. We actually get to see what happened to them right after they blasted off from Canterlot, and learn a little about how they operate. Chrysalis also gets a hilarious running banter with the Cutie Mark Crusaders at their funniest.
Up next is the nightmare arc–another four-issue adventure story that would actually have been kind of a let-down if not for the final issue. It starts off with each of the mane six having nightmates corresponding with their greatest fears, and this time you definitely have seen elements of this storyline throughout the show, so it’s a little disappointing to see it used so lazily here. It leads up to Rarity being kidnapped to the moon by creatures from the Nightmare Dreamscape, which raises this arc’s point of interest: an explanation for how Nightmare Moon works.
The nightmare powers seek out those who are afraid of being alone and take over their body, playing on their fears. The nightmare powers want Luna to come back, but they take Rarity in the meantime, knowing that the elements of harmony can’t be used while Rarity is on their side. You can probably imagine how this is going to end, since the trope has been used a million times, and this arc plays it straight. The mid-section is a serviceable action-comedy, but a lot less funny and with much less going on than the other arcs, most likely as a result of having a different team behind it. Heather Nuhfer and Amy Mebberson are a great writer and artist respectively, but stacked up against Katie Cook and Andy Price, they just don’t quite impress.
Nevertheless, the final issue manages to strike all the right emotional beats with the development of the ever-fascinating Princess Luna, and the decent side-story of these possibly-gay moon creatures.
For me, the comics really hit their stride in the ninth issue, with the start of Big Macintosh’s arc, Zen and the Art of Gazebo Repair. This arc is a comedy romp that somehow manages to seem at once both slice-of-life and like a zany thrill-ride, thanks to Big Mac’s down-to-earth collectedness against a backdrop of constant comic misshaps. That the arc manages to pack such heaps of content into just two short issues without feeling rushed for a moment is a testament to both the mastery of the team behind it, and to what the pony world and characters could be used for when freed from the formulaic rhythm of their TV show.
Big Mac’s inner monolog paints him just as the kind of guy we all thought he was (at least going by the fanfics I’ve read)–a sort of classic straight-man in a sea of mares and over the top characters. He’d rather be at home fixing the damn gazebo, but at the end of the day he’s too warm-hearted not to love the wild and wacky world around him. This arc also utilizes an incredible number of supporting characters, playing their story beats perfectly, as well as the almost wordlessly hilarious admirer, Fleetfoot.
But the arc which blows all of these right out of the water is the latest one as of this writing, which tells the story of the courtship between Shining Armor and Princess Cadance. I am one of many people who’ve been dying to see this couple explored in-depth, as they both have so much potential to be interesting characters that the show just doesn’t give them the space to explore. The comics, on the other hand, dedicate two issues to making these into the most endearing couple I could ask for.
The first half of the arc is from Shining Armor’s perspective as the adorkable D&D nerd who falls in love with the most popular and beautiful girl in school. He and his nerdy friends plot a scheme to win her over before the school bully/football champ can get to her. The arc relishes in its anachronistic storyline, and contextually gets away with it by being a backstory. It throws a litany of pop culture and trope references our way, without forgetting to make likable characters out of Shining’s friends. At one point, Shining Armor sings Cadence a love song to the tune of Little Girls by Oingo Boingo, and if you know the song, you know why I completely died reading it.
Then we switch over to Cadence, who points out first some of the embellishment of Shining’s story, and then proceeds to tell her bit and continue where he left off. In this rare trope reversal, Cadence reveals that she was hopelessly in love with Shining as well, and gets one of the best character bonding moments in the entire series when she comes to a young Twilight for help. By the end of it, we’ve got a pony discovering his possible love of drag, Cadence looking way hotter than this pony can handle, and Fancy Pants re-enacting When Dove’s Fly. What more could you possibly want?!
While the next arc is still yet to be released, we’re far from done. The last 8 months have seen the release of the character-specific micro comics as well, which will wrap up with issue 10 at the end of this year. These comics all have self-contained stories with different writers and artists for each issue, so they present quite an interesting mixed bag to explore.
First up is the Twilight Sparkle micro, which, in my opinion, is the only completely skippable issue of the comic. It’s about Twilight meeting the female, pony version of J.D. Salinger (Jade Singer, ha. ha.), and convincing her that someone understands her one published work well enough that she should totally do more. It’s trite and boring, and the art style doesn’t work for me in the slightest.
Next up is easily the most bizarre Pony comic of the bunch, starring Rainbow Dash. The actual storyline is just some fluff about RD fighting an evil raincloud, but the way it’s written is incredibly strange. The dialog consists entirely of hipster lingo and old pop culture references, and is randomly strewn with vocabulary way outside the range of most prospective readers. It also features a Sonic Double Rainbow predating the fan film, and beating it out in presentation. Art-wise, this comic is show-accurate to the point that I wonder if it was drawn in Flash.
Issue 3 features Andy Price and Katie Cook once again, and is unsurprisingly the best of the micro series comics. It stars Rarity alongside hilarious hippie archetypes Flax Seed and Wheat Grass, whose commune-esque spa she industrializes into a beauty product empire. Rarity is played with the sureness of character that makes all of her episodes great, and the side characters are instantly memorable. One-offs can’t really get better than this.
Fluttershy’s micro features Tony Fleecs bringing the same show-accurate art to the table that he did in the Rainbow Dash micro, but with a different writer who seems much more in-tune with the My Little Pony style. The micro plays off of Fluttershy’s inclination towards artistic craftsmanship hinted at in Suited For Sucess, by revealing that she secretly is a master of extreme knitting.
The main lesson is about learning to withstand criticism and recognize the worth of you’re own work, which is a great lesson in itself. More interesting, however, is Fluttershy’s in-depth analysis of her own work, and back-and-forth with Praiser Pan over the worth of craft as art. It was a relatable and fascinating discussion for me, and did a lot to make me care about Fluttershy more than I ever have before. I also love the way that fluttershy’s creations are drawn.
Pinkie Pie’s micro is very similar to the story of A Friend In Deed, being about Pinkie trying to help an old guy regain his lost happiness. However, it feels a lot more personal and resonant, as in this case it’s Pinkie’s own idol, a famous clown; and the message is more about finding new avenues to work within your passions after age has made you less capable. While nothing surprising for a Pinkie story, it’s a good one nonetheless.
Applejack’s micro… honestly, take a guess. What do you think it’s about? Family? Tradition? Applejack being stubborn and working herself way too hard? Of course, it’s about all of those things. Still, it’s a very fun and cute story, and hella more interesting than Apple Family Reunion. It also doubles as an early Christmas special, and has its own song in the middle. As much as I’d love to see Applejack do ANYTHING other than stubbornly get in over her head for her family’s sake, as an AJ fanboy I wasn’t disappointed with this one.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders micro is as adorable and adventurous as you’d expect, with a storyline about a mimic that keeps transforming until it finds the form that it stays in for life. The CMC draw an obvious parallel between this and cutie mark aquisition, so they indoctrinate the mimic into their gang. Most notable about this comic is the sketchy, manga-esque artwork, which I was shocked to discover was done by the same crew who did the Pinkie Pie micro. They really look nothing alike, and I’ve gotta say I appreciated the adventurous style of this one best.
Lastly we have the Celestia micro, which is extremely similar to Family Appreciation Day, but from the perspective of a concerned adult who actually remembers personally how great her senile friend once was. It’s actually fairly sobering, especially when you see, though aren’t explicitly told, how Inkwell’s eye was damaged in a Canterlot war. I could see this story being really emotionally effecting for some, and Mebberson shows that while maybe not as amazing as Andy Price, her pony art is still lively and better than most of the micros.
Even with all of those wrapped up though, we’ve got one more thing to tackle: the 2013 annual comic, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. Right off the bat, it must be said: this comic is so many fathoms better than the movie that it’s kind of astounding. And remember: I genuinely liked the movie. However, while my reasons for liking the movie mostly involved audio-visual splendor and meta-textual hijinks, the comic is more directly involving and outright GOOD. Great characterization, a genuinely interesting plot, and hella style in presentation.
The first eight pages recount the story of Sunset Shimmer’s time with Celestia, perfectly as I imagined and hoped that it would, with Cook and Price returning to deliver the writing and art. Once Sunset steps through the portal, the artist and writer completely change, and the story takes on a fresh angle as we learn the history of the EQG main five from the perspective of them all sharing their stories on a documentary. Somehow, all five stories are emotionally effective, fleshed out, and interesting at the same time, and the characters kind of take on their own life beyond merely being counterparts to the show’s mane characters. The artwork, altogether, is kinda weird, with on and off moments, but it’s totally worth it for the storyline.
And that, finally, covers all of the comics for now. If you’re wondering why I chose to simply review these rather than analyze them on a more in-depth level it’s because the comics are fairly straightforward. Most of what makes them interesting and cool is evident on the surface. I wanted to do a video about them anyways though just to express how awesome they are and spread awareness, since so many people don’t seem to have read them yet. If there’s anything about them you’d like to discuss, hit up the comments section here, or on my blog where you can leave comments as long as you like. Now to get back to pumping myself up for season 4! Seeya around!
Thanks for advertising these amazing comics!
For me the anniversary was a bummer. And my reasoning might come off as controversial for some bronies. While the first pages feature some of the greatest art in all comics as soon as we go through the mirror it lost all appeal for me. I don’t know what it was but it didn’t make me interested in the characters so its strongest property (the story) didn’t work. It was like the movie with out the one thing I liked about the movie: humor.
Do you think you could do a video describing/explaining why Celestia is often portrayed as a tyrant in the fandom? Seems like an interesting topic.
I wonder if the manga being done in japan will be as good as these comics.