• Let's Look Back: IDW 2018

    A whole year of comics. From the Convocation of Creatures to Fluttershy going full timberwolf, the ponies have certainly been up to a lot.

    Let's take a look back at this comics this year. Catch the full retrospective after the break!

    Before talking about this year, let's talk about the comic's start. The first My Little Pony hit store shelves in November 2012. Here we are on December 26th, 2018 with two titles running and more stories promised. At its height, IDW produced My Little Pony, Friends Forever, and Fiendship is Magic all within one month. Though we haven't seen an explosion of content like that since, we haven't lacked for it either.

    A comic character, two show characters, and a movie character.
    There's gotta be a stand-up joke for this.

    My Little Pony
    The main line has certainly tackled a far range. We started this year with Twilight and the Bureaucrat Buds seeking a way to save Equestria. From there we had prohibition against sugar, retro fashion in Manehatten, a princess trapped in a pegasus body, ponies at the movies, Tempest confronting her past, golden apple wishes, extreme bingo, the Student Six's comic debut, the hunt for the perfect apple pie, and Fluttershy's wild side. 

    A true fashion victim.

    Though they all play various roles, each of the Mane Six has enjoyed at least one issue where they are the primary drive. I'd say Rainbow Dash has had the most interesting year as she was often the physical answer to a problem. Hiding bingo pieces, battling balloons, and friendship is BWAAAAAM!

    The audience is now deaf.

    Hang on! There's somepony I'm missing. As I search my memories for each issue I can't recall Starlight Glimmer helping much. In fact, I can't recall her doing much in the comics since the end of "Chaos Theory" and one issue of Friends Forever. She had a background appearance in the Halloween issue #71, and assisted Twilight briefly in issue #65, but that's it. At least Spike got to be the hero in the most recent issue. Starlights a hard character to feature in a story because we haven't gotten to see her mesh with the Mane Six all that much. With Twilight, sure, but how well does she get along with Fluttershy or Pinkie Pie? I think that could be a challenge for next year's comics. 

    One of the best two-page spreads all year!

    My favorite aspects for the IDW comics is that there's a creative freedom. No voice actor budget or animation worries. There's a freedom to feature characters like Coco Pommel, the Golden Horseshoe Gals, any number of foreign dignitaries, and plenty of background references. All this dependent on the artist involved but I think each artist–both familiar and new–put forth some great imagery. 

    If Pinkie tells you not to panic,
    it's usually a sign that you should.

    I bet some will ask what was the worst and what was the best main line comic this year. Though by no means terrible, I think issue 66 was a bit low energy. It tried for some meta-humor that actually undermined the story and Twilight's absence as the Mane Six make a movie about their own lives distracted from the humor. 

    Fantastic artwork.

    Yet issues 67 and 68 featured "The Return of Tempest Shadow", which I consider to be the strongest main line story. A chance to follow up on on the movie's antagonist and see her confront her past and reconcile with a friend, Tempest's memories, and even the creature that traumatized her. The comic also featured the strongest showing for Cadance thus far, though I hope she'll get to have some on-page strength as well. Once again, I enjoy the IDW comics when they take elements left dangling by the show and weave together something new. 

    Legends of Magic
    Speaking of elements from the show, Legends of Magic wrapped up its run by gathering the final team members, defeating the Sirens, and venturing into a darker world for the 2018 Annual. Though it's got a tough contender with Nightmare Knights, Legends of Magic is my favorite series thus far. I've enjoyed the comic's take on the Pillars and their personalities. Though they can contrast against the show, I feel like the comic has done more to flesh them out. 

    Rockhoof emerged as my favorite Pillar from the comics,
    but they're all a treat.

    The Annual was a special case. At the time I considered it a victory lap. The Pillars entered a dark world, struggled against the worst aspects, and Stygian's fall became more pronounced. What I didn't know at the time was that author Jeremy Whitely was laying the groundwork for Nightmare Knights. A clever setup that has actually raised my opinion for the story, though there would be a five month wait between these events. 

    Ponyville Mysteries
    I've said that Mysteries was written for a younger audience and so I am not as invested. But looking back I have to ask what that means. After all, Legends of Magic and Nightmare Knights have featured plenty of danger but not much actual violence. The threats are implied or happen off-page. So why do I critique Mysteries as if it's more innocent? 

    I did like the increase in stakes as the series progressed.

    I think it comes down to the ideas. Because the Crusaders are so young, I don't expect them to have to encounter the worst the world has to offer. That's a challenge adults should face. The first several mysteries were without malice and the latter two featured antagonists who were either easily foiled or not terribly smart. That's not to say the story lacked strength. Mysteries understood each Crusader's strengths and weaknesses and displayed how each contributes to the team. I confess that I've not yet read the books referenced by these comics but they did make me curious. Something to add to my reading list in 2019. 

    Nightmare Knights
    We're more than halfway through this series and I've enjoyed the ride thus far. As with the main line, this series is doing a great job of following up on characters often left by the wayside. Getting to check up on Tempest, Capper, and Stygian has been a treat. As fellow fans have pointed out, Trixie has not gotten a role in a story without accompanying by Starlight Glimmer. It's been fun to see her show her best and worst without an escort. 

    Still not sure why Sunset is on the most recent cover,
    but an evil version does appear in the casino.

    Of course, I am biased towards my favorite princess. Luna's own role has been interesting and I look forward to her rematch with Eris. With its talk about torturing princesses to death or the breaking point, plus the random villainy within the casino, this is one of the darker stories. Fitting that it came out in Halloween and a curious contrast to Ponyville Mysteries' innocence. 

    One Last Goodbye
    On a local level, 2018's end will feature a farewell. The Mile High Comics store I've frequented since my teens will be closing its doors at month's end. It was a small but favored ritual to go down to the store every Wednesday and own a physical copy. I'm one of those folks who prefers hard copy to digital, and I'm glad I could support the store even in small ways.

    That Pikachu always did unnerve me a little.

    Given the location of other stores I don't think that tradition will continue in 2019. I still plan to own hard copies for every pony storyline but it won't feel quite the same. Such is life and life is change. 

    Couldn't get a pony on the windows, but I always knew they'd have the newest issue.

    I don't know what 2019 will hold for My Little Pony. There are some big events promised in the early months and I look forward to it. If Season 9 is the show's finale, I wonder if the IDW comics will carry the torch further? We'll see, but it's important to live in the now and enjoy what we have. I've enjoyed the stories, artwork, and humor the comics have offered and I hope you all have as well.

    My Little Pillars!

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading and I'll see you all in 2019!

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