• Let's Review: Annual Comic 2014

    With no new comic this week, let's take a look back at the adventures of the Power Ponies! A story devoted to a fictional universe's fiction.

    We're going full inception on this so check out the review after the break! But be warned: I hold the gauntlet of infinite spoilers!

    You know what's the most fun about this comic? No precedents and no limits. We're in a world where things can be hammier and more over-the-top because the goal is fun. World-building is perhaps secondary.

    Hello, Commissioner! We won't question your complacency in this!

    Ted Anderson's story finds life the through the artwork of Ben Bates and colorist Heather Breckel. Getting to draw a city instead of the usual Ponyville huts gives Bates a chance to do more with high-level perspectives. Much of the action in the start features backgrounds of towering skyscrapers. However, this quickly goes away for gradient backgrounds that convey the setting's mood without going into high detail.

    Yes and no!

    The real fun is how Bates renders both the Mane-iac and a new cast of villains to form an evil league. The Phony Pharaoh, High Heels, Long-Face, Smudge, and Shadowmane are all wonderfully over-the-top with strange themes and gimmicks. They're often defeated with equally strange renditions like construct biplanes. Bates makes heavy use of shadows and silhouettes to enhance the mood and create an old-time comic book feel without sacrificing the Power Ponies' original, equine background.

    That car's got real sole to it!

    Speaking of the Power Ponies, they seem to be a mix of both the Mane Six and other superheroes. Case in point, Mistress Mare-velous has a similar chip on her shoulder to the comic Hawkeye. She believes she can run this team better than the current lead, Masked Matter-horn. Matter-horn seems like a less-friendship-driven version of Twilight. Zapp's speaking pattern is reminiscent of Thor while Radiance, Fili-second, and Saddle Rager are all close in personality to Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy with a dash of other mannerisms.

    Our heroines, everyone! Darker, meaner, and way more scowly!

    The stand-out character, however, is Humdrum. Why did Spike resent playing this role when Humdrum is one of the more level-headed and positive members? We quickly learn that while the Power Ponies win through sheer numbers, their camaraderie is sorely lacking. The moment the Mane-iac and her team unite, they're more than a match for the six ponies and steal their powers.

    You ever wish real-world science could work out power transferance?
    Me neither.

    It's Humdrum who gives them a truthful dressing down before leading them in activities to unite their teamwork. This is often the trend in stories as protagonists often have trouble reconciling different priorities while the antagonists' aggression is a unifying if temporary force.

    I don't suppose this is all for a surprise party?

    However, this sets up for a joke that I talked about back in "Night of the Living Apples". Rather than show the de-powered ponies battle the villains and be defeated a second time, we just smash cut from a triumphant image to a chagrined set of prisoners.

    In hindsight, the villains wanted it more.

    This is hilarious and I'm glad they went this route. So now the method shifts from a test of powers to a battle of minds. It's odd to watch superheroes play on others insecurities as that's often a tactic reserved for villains. Yet this is the only option available and it does still require teamwork as Matter-horn has to follow Mare-velous for a change.

    I don't like you now!

    IT's a fun story and while the characters aren't terribly deep, they are well-defined enough to have your favorites and enjoy their interaction. My favorite is Humdrum, for obvious reasons.

    You. I like you.

    The short "Return of the Mane-iac" is more an afterthought. After escaping prison (again), the Mane-iac returns to her lair to discover that a magic mirror has arbitrarily appeared.

    More importantly, who has been in your home?

    Soon we get a confrontation of the Equestrian Mane-iac versus the Equestria Girls Mane-iac. They fight, bond, and plot each others inevitable betrayal. Then the Mane-iac returns to her own universe and we have some meta commentary by Equestria Girls' Rainbow Dash. Not much to say beyond the enjoyable artwork.

    This mini-story takes greater liberty with teh artwork.
    Yet the Mane-iacs' bombastic natures compliment the style well.

    This is a pretty fun, stand-alone annual that celebrates a brief moment in the series. With Avengers: Endgame now out, I think it's a fine time to pull this from the comic shelf and give it a fresh look.

    It ain't schwarma, but it works!

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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