Thursday, March 27, 2014

March of the Ponies: MLP Comics (Nightmare Rarity arc - TPB Vol. 2)

[NOTE: Links to other March of the Ponies stories will go here as they are published.Part 1 - Abridged MLP historyPart 2 - Review of Lauren Faust's prior works, Part 3 - MLP Comics (Micro-series of TwilightRainbow Dash, RarityFluttershyPinkie PieApplejackCMCs/CelestiaSpike/Luna), Part 4 - Equestria Girls reviewPart 5 - Fan-made episodes (Dusk's Dawn, Double Rainboom, Snowdrop), Part 6 - Fan works (Music,Doctor Whooves, Parody/Abridged Series, Fanfictions), Part 7 - Season Reviews: Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, Magical Mystery Cure, Season 4 (to date)]

Now that I've polished off 10 individual one-shots of the most important characters in the My Little Pony series, it's high time that I cover the main line of comics from IDW.

The most deceptive trade cover EVER.
I won't be touching on the new "Friends Forever" series because the first trade is not out, and I only really had the budget for one story, so I went for a main line tale.

So the big question for today: Why did I go with Volume 2 (the Nightmare Rarity arc) instead of the first trade of the series (the Return of Queen Chrysalis arc)?

The answer is simple enough: I had only watched the first season when I bought the trade, so when I was informed by the good folks at my local comic store that a Season 2 villain was used in the first arc, I was directed to this volume.

Full disclosure: The trades I've read this past week are NOT the first MLP comics I've seen. I saw one beforehand, which is the one that convinced me to give the series a try in the first place. So if you want to grant any element of the fandom credit for getting me to give this world a crack, it's that comic.

It's not getting a review because the comic (which I gave to my cousin as a Christmas present) was a word-for-word, shot-for-shot comic adaptation of the pilot episodes. If you want my thoughts on the episode, you'll see it in a few weeks, or you can hear a few of my thoughts in the audio.
Best-drawn panel in the whole story.

Anyway, I was introduced to Nightmare Moon through that means, and so I was interested in a Nightmare sequel. And honestly, it was a solid read.

I thought the artist (Amy Mebberson) was the right call, though her art in smaller panels and from a less ideal angle for muzzles were not as solid as they were in the Celestia comic.

That said, this title is actually older, so maybe she has grown as an artist since this trade and I'm comparing this art to her improved art.

Unfortunately, this trade rears the ugly head of one of my art pet peeves: making people shiny when they shouldn't be. The fantastical element of the story excuses a lot of these panels, but not all of them.

As for the story, Heather Nuhfer makes her MLP debut in this arc, and she doesn't do a terrible job by any stretch. She adds a great leg to the mythos and puts together a pretty well-paced story.

See, this would've been a good trade cover.
Her main slip-up in writing comes in the fact that she chooses to have monologues that set up the mood or are stereotypical villain monologues, but she doesn't explore what's going on in everyone's heads as things are going on.

This is especially a problem with Luna, who I hoped would get a deeper look into what caused her to become possessed in the first place, what scared her from confronting the spirit after being freed, and how the Mane Six's friendship restored her confidence and made her strong again. It's all implied, so I don't knock it too hard, but she could have found time to touch on it more.

What this arc does do well, however, is give a look into Rarity's innermost fears and show where her insecurities lie. It also gives Spike a real moment of heroism, which I appreciated. I am always a proponent of non-main characters making the biggest difference in a confrontation because it shows how anyone can be a hero.

Overall, I thought the trade was well-put together and the issues came together to tell a pretty solid story. Rating the issues individually, I'd give issues #5-8, respectively, 7.8, 8.8, 7.3 and 8.3 out of 10.

The trade, as a whole, I'll give an 8/10. (And, no, I'm not averaging the issues together to get it. I'm judging the story as a whole.)

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