The Wrath of Nightmare Rarity: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #7 Review

Will the ponies be able to fight a friend?

Will the ponies be able to fight a friend?

Comic Written by Heather Nuhfer, Drawn by Amy Mebberson, Colored by Heather Breckel, Lettered by Neil Uyetake, and Edited by Bobby Curnow

Review by Andrew Mathieu

After being kidnapped and having her greatest fears consume her, Rarity has become the new Nightmare Moon.  After having overcome the obstacles put before them in the last issue, Twilight, Princess Luna, Spike, and their pony friends must now try to save their lost friend from the clutches of darkness.  However, with a legion of corrupted denizens at her disposal, Nightmare Rarity may not be so easy to overcome.

This issue, at its core, focused a small number of characters, and despite most of the ponies being in play, along with some nice cameos, they are mostly left by the wayside.  The first half of the issue helps us get aquinted with the new Nightmare Moon as her friends must fight of both her and the various shadow creatures at her beck and call.  Later the issue focus on Spike, as he tries his best to free Rarity, the pony he loves.

The dialogue from the ponies is spot on and true to each character, from Pinkie Pie’s attempt to free Rarity by telling an embarrassing story about her, to Fluttershy finding the beauty in one of the more grotesque creatures of the moon.  The scenes in Ponyville where Princess Celestia attempts to prepare the town’s citizens for an impending attack help illustrate the threat of Nightmare Moon nicely.  My main problem with this issue is the fact that Rarity as Nightmare Moon feels less groundbreaking to the ponies than I would have thought.  The pacing of the story doesn’t allow for much reflection on the pony’s part, nor does it allow them to question how their friend could have possibly fallen to the evil specter from their past.  The scenes featuring Spike are nice, showing just how much she cares for Rarity, as well as how resourceful the little dragon can be.  It does run a little long, though, and doesn’t leave anymore room for Twilight and her friends before the issue comes to an end.

The artwork from Amy Mebberson, with the colors of the Heather Breckel, continue the colorful symphony of fun I continue to adore from this series.  The characters look very animated and expressive, while the backgrounds are more mute and less important to the characters filling them.  Nightmare Rarity is also very well designed, with the stylish hair and uptight demeanor making a nice contrast to her predecessor.   The moon is a dark and dank place with its citizens matching the environments well, but the addition of the ponies (and dragon) help them dominate each panel.  It’s a nice mixture that really drives home the ponies are not from this world, which is an impressive feat.  Andy Price may be unbelievable meticulous in the minute details, but Mebberson and Breckel bring their own synergy to make the comic familiar to fans of the show, yet unique in their own colorful style.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #8 is a nice continuation of a decent story.  The setup has a ton of potential, but the end result is a lot less ambitious.  Not a bad way for the story to go by any means, but nothing that really blows me away.  The story is well told, the artwork continues to impressive, and the ending helps build anticipation for the grand finale.  A good, just short of great, pony adventure.

Writing:  3.5 out of 5

Artwork:  4 out of 5

Overall:  3.5 out of 5

The Search for Rarity: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #6 Review

The Ponies, Princess Luna, and Spike on a quest to find a friend.

The Ponies, Princess Luna, and Spike on a quest to find a friend.

Review by Andrew Mathieu

Comic Written by Heather Nuhfer, Drawn by Amy Mebberson, Colored by Heather Breckel, Lettered by Neil Uyetake, and Edited by Bobby Curnow

Last issue saw the abduction of Rarity to the moon, as well as the surprise arrival of Princess Celesia and Princess Luna.  With the help of a magic-infused lasso, Twilight, Spike, Pinkie, Dash, AJ, Fluttershy, and Princess Luna embark on a lunar adventure to rescue their friend.  However, dark forces are at work and they’ll stop on nothing to hold the ponies progress to achieve their terrifying goal.

This issue features some nice characterization.  The addition of Spike and Princess Luna, both of whom were largely absent from the previous story arc adds a some nice moments in the story.  There’s an early moment between Spike and Twilight that perfectly captures their big sister/little brother vibe that’s a constant throughout the series.  Luna, on the other hand, is an interesting character in general.  Given her dark past and lack of social skills, she’s a polar opposite of her older sister, despite the fact they share the same kingdom.  In this issue she’s seems surprisingly vulnerable despite her familiarity of her surroundings.  It’s nice to see the ponies help Luna overcome her lack of confidence, and likewise see Luna guide the ponies as best she can on this dangerous adventure.

The artwork is the same colorful and lively look that has become a staple of this series for me.  Even on the dark and dreary moon the ponies are able to make any environment lively with the varied color palettes.  While Amy Mebberson’s artwork isn’t as meticulous as Andy Price before her, she makes up for it with a lot of character detail and a look that is, while similar in design of the animated series, has a nice tone and feel all its own.  The colors from the amazing Heather Breckal help lend this world an amazing level of visual depth and clarity.

While the characterization is fantastic, the actual story in this issue is somewhat bland.  Without spoiling too much, this issue goes into further detail of a sequence from last issue.  While not outright bad, it does feel somewhat unnecessary and it feels like some moments were over before they started.  Nevertheless it’s an interesting look at these characters and doesn’t ruin the issue as a whole, nor does it impact the shocking cliffhanger.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #6 continues the series streak of great characters, blissfully colorful visuals, and self-contained entertainment.  The story may not be as interesting as the characters in it, but the strength of the writing and artwork carry it to a finish.

Writing:  3.5 out of 5

Artwork: 5 out of 5

Overall: 4 out of 5

A Fine Duo: A Review of Batman/Superman #1

Greg Pak, Jae Lee and Ben Oliver take on DC greatest heroes!

Greg Pak, Jae Lee and Ben Oliver take on DC’s greatest heroes!

Comic Written by Greg Pak, Art by Jae Lee and Ben Oliver, Colored by June Chung and Daniel Brown, Lettered by Rob Leigh, Edited by Rickey Purdin and Eddie Beaganza

Batman and Superman are two of DC’s greatest and most recognizable super heroes.  Both have conquered various media outlets and are no stranger to each other.  However, in this new series by Greg Pak, who makes his DC Comics debut, the heroes actually are strangers to each other.  In the New 52, the heroes of the DC Universe are about five years into the world of super heroes, but in Batman/Superman #1, we are close to the beginning of that five years.  Batman and Superman, as well as Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, are complete strangers to each other.  While these two individuals are heroes fighting on the side of justice, their idea of justice could not be more different.  However, when events occur that effect both heroes, these two meet for the first time, and the results are both surprising and hightly entertaining.

Greg Pak absolutely nails the voices of these two heroes.  Narration is provided from both characters point of view, and when they are together, it provides a clever back and forth giving us some real insight into how both characters think and react to a particular situation.  It’s not just the polarity on display between the two characters, but the subtle similarities as well.  Pak does a great job not only of informing us on who these characters, but enduring them to us as well.  His voices for Superman and Batman are some of the best I can recall in any comic I’ve read either of them in.  I have read Pak’s work before, but this is probably the best work of his I have ever read.

The artwork is phenomenal!  I wasn’t familiar with Jae Lee before reading this, but he has gained a fan in me.  The art is very cool and dynamic, with cool shadows effects and action that is easy to follow and really visceral.  I like how neither Batman nor Superman are super buff and have more eloquent statures; It makes sense since they are younger.  I also love the older costumes that they wear; this is my first time reading a comic with the denim jeans Superman and it’s a nice look.  Ben Oliver, who I know from his early Batwing art, does the last few pages, and it’s pretty good as well.  It’s a little jarring with a few close-ups that look a little awkward, but it meshes well enough with Lee’s work.

Batman/Superman #1 is one of the best first issues I’ve read for a New 52 comic in a very long time.  Pak, Lee, Oliver, and company provide a fresh look for two timeless heroes that’s both enjoyable in its own right and provides a great addition to the world of the New 52.  Having recently read  both first issues of Batman: The Zero Year and Superman: Unchained, I can honestly say this is the one of best Batman or Superman comic issues I’ve read in a really long time.  While I’ve had no real problem with either hero, I’ve never felt compelled to follow their solo adventures for one reason or another.  This time, I’ve got no excuse.  Pak has sold me on these characters like few other writers have, and I’m ready to dig in!

Writing: 5 out of 5

Artwork: 4.5 out of 5

Overall: 5 out of 5

Review by Andrew Mathieu

Blackest Night Mare: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #5 Review

A new creative team and a new adventure for everyone's favorite ponies!

A new creative team and a new adventure for everyone’s favorite ponies!

Reviewed by Andrew Mathieu

Comic Written by Heather Nuhfer, Drawn by Amy Mebberson, Colored by Heather Breckel, Lettered by Neil Uyetake, and Edited by Bobby Curnow

After a wonderful first arc featuring great character work, amazing art, and the delightfully sinister villain in Queen Chrysalis, this ongoing series receives a changing of the guard with a brand new writer Heather Nuhfer, and artwork by series cover artist Amy Mebberson.  The story begins with Twilight Sparkle being plagued with nightmares. After finding out her best friends, save for Spike, have also been plagued with similar nightmares, they all decide to have a sleepover at Pinkie Pie’s.  However, evil forces are at work, one of the ponies is in major danger, and a visit from Equestria royalty ushers in a new adventure.

The issue as a whole is well written.  Heather Nuhfer has a nice handle on all the ponies, especially Rainbow Dash.  Dash gets a large amount of dialogue, making me believe the multicolored pony has a fan in Nuhfer.  She’s mostly true to Dash’s character, but I don’t think Rainbow should be this talkative and random to the level of Pinkie Pie, something Pinkie amusingly comments on.

(Spoiler Alert: Skip following paragraph if you’d like to experience the story for yourself)

Another character Nuhfer writes well is the criminally underused Princess Luna.  In the animated series, she has not gotten that much screen time, so it’s nice to have this comic arc utilize her to such a degree.  Nuhfer’s Luna is somewhat subdued and somewhat reclusive, yet intelligent and authoritative.  Her design definitely represents her nature with her dark color palette that is in stark contrast to the other ponies.  I look forward to having her play a role in this story arc, and I think Nuhfer does a good job of fleshing her out.

On the artistic side, things are looking good.  While Amy Mebberson’s art isn’t as detailed and intricate as Andy Price before her, it’s full of personality and a nice storybook quality.  With less on the page, she’s able to give the characters some details in expression and movement.  There is this one scene in the issue that looks into each pony’s personal nightmare, and some are absolutely heart wrenching, despite most only taking up a single panel on the page.  Her style is very attractive, and the colors from Heather Breckel continue to make this one of the most pleasant-looking comics I read.

All in all, this story is off to a good start.  Only time will tell if this arc can live up to the extremely high standards of the previous one, but I have high hopes.  This wasn’t the best issue I’ve read, but it was still really good.

Story:  3.5 out of 5

Artwork 4 out of 5

Overall: 4 out of 5

Queen Chrysalis vs. Twilight Sparkle: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #4 Review

The one on one Pony Battle a year in the making!

The pony brawl to end them all!

Writer: Katie Cook  Artist: Andy Price  Colorist Heather Breckel  Letterer Neil Uyetake  Editor: Bobby Curnow

Katie Cook and Andy Price\ have completely delighted me with this ongoing comic book series.  They’ve done more than just channel the fun and good will of the animated series through this serial; they’ve taken established stories and characters and have spun a very enjoyable story to a new format.  For fans of the animated series or comic book readers looking for an all ages title that goes above and beyond the call, My Little Pony: Friendship of Magic is well worth a look.

As the fourth and final part of “The Return of Queen Chrysalis,” Twilight and her band of merry ponies march into the castle of the Queen to save the Cutie Mark Crusaders from the clutches of the changeling kingdom.  Meanwhile, the magic enhancing Secretariat Comet is fast approaching, Queen Chrysalis springs her final trap, and a battle building since part two of “A Canterlot Wedding” finally comes to fruition.

Katie Cook has proven since issue one that she just gets these characters.  Everypony sounds true to their animated counterparts, and Cook has done especially well with Queen Chrysalis and the Cutie Mark Crusaders.  The Queen just exudes a charisma and personality that’s just too good to resist.  The way she toys with Twilight and company is just funny to watch and read, making her one of the best elements of this whole arc.  Meanwhile Apple Bloom, Sweetie Bell and Scootaloo are all handled remarkably well.  Their constant banter has been pretty funny, and the fact that they can drive even Queen Chrysalis to near insanity is a testament to their enduring nature.

Once again, Andy Price and colorist Heather Breckel completely knock it out of the park in what is undoubtably the best looking issue so far.  This issue is much darker than previous issues, but the colors are still vibrant.  While the animated look is still intact, it’s the more striking and serious moments that stand out with excellent lighting, an insane amount of detail, and nice little visual touches that help make each panel feel like scenes rather than snapshots.  One particular scene features a flash of lightning, causing Rainbow Dash, Applejack, and Rarity to protect Scootaloo, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, respectively.  The scene is memorable to me because each pony protects their filly in a different way: Dash flies Scootaloo to safety, AJ covers Apple Bloom using her whole body, and Rarity engulfs Sweetie Bell in her arms.  Visual scenes like this are sprinkled throughout the whole issue, and it just gives the comic so much weight and charm.  It’s easy to find something new if you read it again.

The highlight of the book is the visually spectacular battle between Twilight and Chrysalis, which just blew me away.  It’s probably the most intense battle in Friendship is Magic, and that’s counting the cartoon.  If there is one flaw with this issue, it’s that the battle feels is a little uneven.  Without giving anything away, it’s a great one on one fight, but one that feels a little too short.

This issue closes out an amazing first arc to a great new comic book series.  It also marks the (hopefully temporary) departure of writer and artist as a new duo will helm the next story arc.  Even so, this was a great way to open a comic book based on such a beloved property.  It introduces everyone’s favorite ponies to a whole new audience and entertainment format.  This comic has been a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to read more!

Writing 4.5/5

Artwork 5/5

Overall 5/0

By Andrew Mathieu

Ponies Divided and a Queen Delighted: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #3 Review

The Mane Six are split up as they continue their rescue mission.

The Mane Six are split up as they continue their rescue mission.

Comic Written by Katie Cook,  Art by Andy Price, Heather Breckel, Letter by Neil Uyetake, and Edited by Bobby Curnow

It’s hard to describe how much I love this series without sounding like a broken record.  The writing is great, the art is spectacular, and it matches the charm and fun of the animated series it’s based on while still feeling new and original.  After only three issues, it’s become my favorite comic book series in a long while, and I can’t tell you how delighted I feel with every new issue that arrives in the mail.

In this issue, Queen Chrysalis reminisces about her defeat from “A Canterlot Wedding” and her plot to get revenge on the pony who brought about her downfall, Twilight Sparkle.  Chrysalis, along with her loyal minions and Cutie Mark Crusader prisoners, continues to spy on Twilight and company, who have since split into three separate groups to get to the Changeling Kingdom.

Katie Cook has her deck full on the character side in this issue, having to juggle the pairing of Twilight and Fluttershy, Applejack and Rarity, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, as well as Spike, Queen Chrysalis, The Cutie Mark Crusaders, and a few others.  Luckily, not only is she able to give each pony their due time on the page, she makes it look easy.  The dynamics between the ponies is spot on, with Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie bringing the most laughs (and yes, I laughed while reading this issue.)  The separation of the ponies allows each group to discuss their current situation while at the same time reflect on what’s happened already.  Cook does a good job of keeping these moments entertaining as well as fleshing out the characters in the quiet, and not so quiet moments.

Cook knocks it out of the park, however, with the interaction between Chrysalis and the Cutie Mark Crusaders.  Applebloom, Sweetie Bell, and Scootaloo get more screen time here than in previous issues, and it’s just funny to see them bounce off the charismatic Queen Chrysalis.  The trio’s random thoughts about past adventures combined with their heartfelt defense of their would-be rescuers helps round them out nicely.  Chrysalis once again steals the show with her indelible charm and venomous remarks towards Twilight and her friends, and makes her one of the most entertaining, and likable, villains I can recall from a comic.

Once again, Andy Price and company bring great artwork to every panel on the page.  His expressions really let’s us know what characters are thinking or how they’re feeling without any dialogue necessary.  Seeing some of the reactions is part of the fun as you really have to look at the characters to make sense of some scenes, like when one of the Crusaders tells a bad joke while the other Crusaders look at her, almost disgusted.  Not only that, the amount of visual variety and colorful environments really give a pleasant atmosphere to the issue.  While this issue is full of happy and funny moments, there are some really dark and eerie moments to go along with them.  There’s one panel of an angry and carnivorous Queen Chrysalis that looks so cool, and is unlike any other image of her in the entire issue, it just has to be seen to be believed.

Once again, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a comic book series well worth the time of any fan of the animated series or all ages comic book adventures.  It really is a great book, and one I look forward to each and every month.  I hope you check it out; if you’re in the market for some good old-fashioned fun in Equestria, you won’t be disappointed!

Review by Andrew Mathieu

Friendship in Peril! My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #2 Review

The Mane 6 against... each other?!

The Mane 6 against… each other?!

Story and Art: Katie Cook (writer), Andy Price (art), Heather Breckel (colors), Robbie Robbins (letters), and Bobby Crunow (editor).

After a month hiatus, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic returns for issue two.  Twilight Sparkle and her friends begin their journey to rescue the Cutey Mark Crusaders from the lair of Queen Chrysalis.  Meanwhile, the Queen herself does her best to drive a wedge between ponies, while also contending with constant chatter of the Crusaders.

Katie Cook has the distant voice and personality of everypony down pat.  Each pony gets more attention than last issue, as their adventure begins in earnest.  The dialogue flows naturally between characters, like a scene early on with Twilight giving directions, Rainbow Dash huffing not being able to fly over a mountain, Applejack keeping her focused, and Pinkie Pie being excited about their quest.

I’d like to point out that the are very few caption boxes in the entire issue, with the dialogue driving the story forward.  The banter of the ponies, coupled with the on looking Chrysalis keeps the pacing of the issue quick and smooth.  I didn’t have and trouble reading this comic from cover to cover twice, and there wasn’t a dull moment to be had.

As good as the writing is, the artwork absolutely steals the show.  The character look as they do in the animated series, but rather than emulate the art from the series, Andy Price adds to it with expressive characters, a more cartoony style in some places, and a dark and brooding style in others.  One particular panel with Queen Chrysalis makes her look more menacing and vengeful than she ever did in the cartoon.

Colorist Heather Breckel uses a bright palette so every panel stands out.  I can’t remember a comic with more color that this, but it’s very clean and never feels clutter. Last but not least, letters by Robbie Robbins has some nice effects throughout, especially a scene in which the ponies are surprised by a tremor which the word “RUMBLE” features the visage of each ponies, each with their own reaction.  This is a gorgeous comic book.

Not only that, but the writing and artwork complement each other perfectly.  Something I didn’t elaborate on in my review of issue one are the visual gags and easter eggs scattered throughout the issue.  This issue goes further with references that range from Transformers to Spider-Man to Looney Tunes and a few that I didn’t get, but I noticed them.  These little visual gags and homages are cool to spot, and make multiple reads of the comic that much more enjoyable.

I can’t stop singing the praises of this comic.  It’s funny and suspenseful, the artwork is gorgeous, the characters are delightful, the ending leaves the ponies in a very different place from the start, and the entire issue reads like a stand alone adventure, despite being part two of a four-part story.  Fans of the animated series owe it to themselves to pick up a copy.  Everyone else will find an enjoyable all ages story from an awesome creative team that deserves to be read.  I can’t wait to read more!

Verdict:

Story:  Five out of Five

Art: Five out of Five

Overall: Five out of Five

Review by Andrew Mathieu