• Let's Review: Spike Micro

    Spike's been having a heck of a season, but what about way back when? Let's take a look his Micro comic.

    Best to read the issue before jumping in, as there are spoilers!

    I've been thrilled with Spike's pretension this season, but it wasn't always so. Heck, it took a whole season for me to find something to like about the little guy. So when Spike's micro arrived after season 3, it was one of the times where I didn't know what to expect. This wasn't a character I was as fond of as the lead cast, but I did want to see him get more positive roles.

    Spike's solo adventure comes illustrated by Agnes Garbowska, a name that my spellcheck hates and reading it is not made any easier by the credits page's font.

    Who created this font? I wish to smite them!

    Garbowska has a very distinct style, often featuring greater shading than most other works. The end result is artwork that is easy to view thanks to the color pallet without being an eye strain. The soft shading makes the distinctions mellow and compliments the show's calm pastels without trying to actually look like the show.

     Spike's thinking, "Just you wait, rabbit stew."
    The flip side of this is that because everything enjoy this softer style, nothing really stands out. If a panel features a large amount of activity or characters, it can take a while for the eye to sort out where it's meant to focus. Perspective and size ratio can be an issue. Looking at this opening panel, the distance between Twilight, Fluttershy, and Spike seems very small even though they're behind the Golden Oaks Library's curve. That is not a small building.

    At this point in the series, I'd come to the decision that the best Spike moments featured him being supportive and loyal to Twilight Sparkle. So my mental alarms sounded the moment I realized this comic would separate the two. Twilight and Fluttershy are off to the Equestria pet show, leaving Spike to reminisce about the shortest cameo in the show.

    We hardly knew ye...

    He's heartened by a comic book add for Sea Beasts, the Equestrian version of Sea Monkeys...

    He's referring to the crocodiles. Twilight had to talk him down to Sea Beasts.

    Most of you are too young to even know what those are, aren't you?

    Sea Monkeys were a marketing scheme in the 1960's and 1970's, often advertised in comic book pages. Though they were really brine shrimp, they were shown as little people under the sea, complete with far too many accessories.

    Yet Spike's immaturity shows as, left to his own devices with a library of books on magic, he creates mixture after mixture to fast-track their development. The end result is a funny parallel to the original Sea Monkeys. The old variety of brine shrimp were a crossbreed not found in nature. Funny how that idea got taken to an extreme.

    Taking a page from both the Simpsons and South Park, the Sea Beasts develop so fast that they've reached an industrial age by the next day. That includes a not-so-subtle reflection on human nature as the Vase People and Table People tribes go to war over Spike's orders.

    Some might see this as an allegory for human history.
    I see it as an average internet forum... on a good day.

    It isn't until Spike conveniently witnesses a mother and foal conversation about growth that he gets the problem. No longer seeking shortcuts and quick fixes, Spike buckles down and educates the Sea Beasts; Ernest P. Worell-style, with lots of costume changes.

    I guess the benefit of being naked 90% of the time is a large budget for costumes.

    I feel like I'm blazing through this look back, yet there's not a lot of discuss. The Sea Beasts are a collective. It may sound speciesist, but they do all look the same and have no stand-out personalities. They are a collective problem for Spike in terms of volume, not character.

    I know what you're thinking, "where did they get the robes?"
    You're far too innocent to know the truth!

    I'm of the view that the best Micro comics celebrate a character's strengths and weaknesses. Spike's traits are on full display, though at the time it was hard to put them into words. Spike's youth and impulsiveness often create his own challenges. Whereas the older ponies are called to solve the world's problems, Spike usually creates his own downfall. The nice change for this comics is that Spike isn't rescued. He receives inspiration from others, but it's on him to act. This is where his tenacity and dedication come into play. He shows his best by trying to help the species he's created.

    See? OC's can contribute to the story!

    Yet it's the Sea Beast's collective that weakens this story. Much like with Rainbow Dash's story, the wider populace means its harder to form a connection. This seemingly interchangeable set of creatures does not give the audience an anchor by which to care. Plus, we've never seen these evolved Sea Beasts since.

    Sure, we haven't seen Ponyacci, Praiser Pan, Jade Singer, or other comic-exclusive characters in a while either. Yet we got the sense that the Mane Six had an impact on those individual lives. That these ponies could move forward thanks to the personal contact. Without that connection with the Sea Beasts, it's easier for them to slip from memory without caring.

    This would be one of Spike's most positive displays one week before we dived into season 4; a season that took special delight in highlighting abuse for comedy. So, this was something of a life raft for his positive traits, but the story itself is middle-of-the-road. Nothing inherently wrong, but it doesn't leave a lasting impression. A better showing than some of the Micros but less memorable than others.

    Yet reading this does help me appreciate the recent upswing in Spike's show presentation. Here's hoping it continues!

    Twitter: Silver Quill