• Let's Review: MLP #79

    We were patient as the Cosmos arc was delayed. The tradeoff being that we have a fresh issue much sooner!

    We're back to the single-issue, slice-of-life adventures. Let's see how an outing between Mayor Mare and Applebloom goes.

    Catch the full review after the break with a few spoilers... except one.

    It's nice to be back to slice-of-life stuff. As much as I enjoy big-scale adventures, My Little Pony often won me over with the smaller, local stories of characters playing off one another. This issue features two pairs interacting while set against a larger, village-wide event.

    Ah, process of elimination.
    Condemning efforts since an eternity ago.

    Illustrating this issue is Tony "Pencils" Kuusisto; a fandom artist who worked his way to become an official part of the comics! I've commented in the past that Kuusisto's artwork feels more serious, even though he's no stranger to humor. One never doubts when a panel is meant to convey a joke or an emotion. Case it point, it's pretty easy to tell when Applebloom is hitting the panic button.

    Does this look like the face of mercy?
    Of course not! Why would you even ask that?

    What I mean by serious is that Kuusisto tends to avoid exaggerated proportions. If a pony is shouting, their mouth will be well-defined but it will not stretch the bounds of believability. Some illustrators might expand the mouth to where it dominates 1/3 of a character's head, but that's not Kuusisto's style. In some comics this exaggeration might sell a joke, but here much of the humor is based on frustrated expectations. So instead this more constrained style conveys the character's disappointment.

    Is she depressed?
    I think she's depressed.

    There is a game one can play with this style as well. Pick any panel and ask which element has the most detail. I think you'll be surprised by the answer. My Little Pony isn't as big on textured elements. Usually just enough to convey a solid sense without going into hyper-detail. Much of the backgrounds here match that idea, except for one part. There's always something within the panel that features a heavy amount of line work. A desk's details, a stack of papers, foliage, a step. The juxtaposition can be jarring. Almost like the artist started on a background and couldn't stop without pouring triple in the effort into one element.

    Look at the top of the school.
    Now look at those steps!

    We also get to see some extra ponies this time around, but a part of me misses Tadwell. We saw him just recently in Spirit of the Forest and he is the creation of Brenda Hickey, so I get why he's not in Kuusisto's art. I don't know if there's an unspoken rule that comic creators have exclusive rights to the characters they help illustrate. I'd be curious to see how ponies like Kibitz, Tadwell, and other comic-exclusive characters look in different styles. 

    Even the assistant seems to be thinking,
    "A role model? Are you serious?"

    So, basic story is that the ponies are planning a surprise celebration and it's on Applebloom to lure the Mayor away. Although the Mayor will try to depart several times, there's never a real sense that Applebloom is struggling to keep her occupied. A few overt actions and the problem is solved. 

    Horror movies has begun with those expressions.

    By the same notion, Twilight's working alongside Cranky Doodle Donkey doesn't carry a great deal of tension. The humor is there as Cranky rejects every main act audition that Twilight enjoys and vice versa, but we never really sense a building anxiety. That's something I never thought I'd say involving Twilight.

    Cranky Doodle takes his next step towards becoming an internet critic.

    Thankfully, we do have a sense of mystery as a shadowy figure has plans for the festival. This provides a hook to keep the reader interested even if the unfolding stories might not feel like high stakes. I will not reveal the identity of this figure because it's more fun to be surprised. Though I will caution that if anyone hasn't read the comic yet, please stay clear of the comments section! 


    While both parties provide some humor with their frustrated efforts, there is a nice moment of characterization. Often, Mayor Mare is a characterization of lumbering bureaucracy or incompetence. The comics especially have made fun of her lack of action. 

    Get a cutout of the Mayor and a recording of that line
    and you could free up hours of her schedule.

    Yet there's a counterbalance view. For all her faults, it's clear that Mayor Mare never took office for her own benefit. She consistently demonstrates a love for the Ponyville and its residents. We get to see that here as she helps awaken Applebloom to her own school's worth and its importance in shaping the future. While the line about the Mayor being a role model might have been a little white lie, I wouldn't be surprised if Applebloom's admiration increased. 

    She's really lovable but not super-effective!

    I regret that the Mayor is often made ineffective for a punchline. I'd be glad if young readers had an example of a political figure who was both effective and devoted towards others. I don't think that would render the Mane Six unnecessary. If anything, the Mayor could be a great catalyst to start a story without having to escalate to Celestia and Luna. 

    I could see this happening in the show.
    Followed by a colorful explosion.

    There's a bit of anachronism. The story opens with Mayor Mare on the phone. Outside of Trixie having to deal with Discord in "A Matter of Principals", I can't recall seeing phones used within Equestria. So it's worth a double-take when both Applebloom and the mysterious ponies use micro-communicators. Equestria's technology level continues to serve the story's whims. 

    Calling Dick Tracy! Calling Dick Tracy!
    Most of you are too young to even get that joke!

    Though there's a flash of insight into Mayor Mare's portrayal, this comic is mostly light-hearted humor. A fun parade after a four-part arc favoring adventure. It's a fine read it's not a staple of the franchise either. The biggest draw is the identity of the mystery pony, and for that I will recommend the comic. 

    Hello! Goodbye!
    Until next time!

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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