What's got Lyra so wigged out? A blast from the past starring Applejack!
After the break, check out how the 80's-era ponies could get pretty dark.
Out of curiosity, just who requested this story?
During Gen 1's run, the UK featured a 223-issue comic series. That includes a tale for that generation's Applejack in issue #35. It's also one of the darkest, freakiest things I've seen for children.
And I've watched the Snorks.
It all starts with G1 Applejack's defining trait: being clumsy. Applejack was a mobile disaster area, and most of the ponies knew what to expect. I can confirm this because they made a song about it. And who would lie through song?
Applejack's antics anger her neigh-bors. Even the dog starts telling her off. With the word bubbles and summary written below the artwork, this seems more designed as a picture book than anything you'd buy at a local comic shop.
Oops, sorry. This was from a time where you could buy comics at the grocery store. Good memories...
So, we're not going to address the talking dog? Anybody?
Yet Applejack's journey goes sour as she becomes sealed in a cave. But no worries! Here's a kindly-looking wizard to help her out. Yes, humans existed in this world.
Oh, wait, sorry. Not a kindly helper. The Jewel Wizard enslaves ponies to dig in his mines and expand his gem throne. Because ponies are naturally suited towards mining. Some of the ponies have been down there for so long their eyes have failed.
Searching my memories, I can't recall any He-Man, Transformer, or other boy-targeted comic that went this dark. A mad wizard is enslaving pastel horses and forcing them to work, even after blindness. This is the kind of thing I'd expect a conquering adventurer to break up. Instead, it's up to Applejack.
The comic states that the Jewel Wizard "fell to the end of the earth", but I think this would be a perfect opportunity for parents to educate their children on the concept of "terminal velocity." Hasbro UK had a heavy role in approving the story pitches, scripts, layouts and finished art. So I marvel at the idea of a corporate bigwig reading over the comic and saying, "Yes, I think children will find this taking of a life delightfully whimsical. Print it!"
But what about the blind ponies? The shard from the Jewel Wizard's throne embedded in their eyes and resorted their sight. Because reasons. Thus G1 My Little Pony introduced one of their mini gimmick lines: the Twinkle-Eyed Ponies.
So that's a short but surprising romp. It's not a deep story by any means. The threat of blindness and eternal toiling sets high stakes, but Applejack solves the problem on the next page. Basically an origin story for several ponies while giving Applejack something to do. A lot of stories for kids would express that Applejack learned a lesson about herself, yet I'm not sure that applies here. She saved those ponies through her clumsiness, but that sounds like a one-time benefit.
What really caught my eye was this comic's play on expectations. Witch Know-A-Lot is mentioned as a source of support, even though a young reader would likely view witches as evil. The Jewel Wizard is drawn as a kindly, handsome man but is insane and violent. A parent reading this to their kids could use this to caution against strangers and to not rely on assumptions.
Then there's the darker elements. Enslavement, blindness, and killing a guy. If I listed those and then said it was in a My Little Pony comic, I'd wager I'd get some strange looks.
This wasn't an amazing adventure, but it was surprising and a reminder that something "aimed at girls" doesn't translate into a lack of conflict. This is part of the view that inspired Lauren Faust to create Friendship is Magic.
So, who's a hardcore pony?
Twitter: Silver Quill