• Let's Review: MLP Free Comic Book Day

     Four months waiting, but never abandoned! IDW is teasing their Season 10 and it starts with Spike's quest.

    Check out the full review, with some spoilers, after the break!

    During a talk with Tony Fleecs, Katie Cook, and Trish Forstner, I got learn a few thing about the IDW comics and how they're approaching this idea of "Season 10". In the case of a comic entry's length compared to an episode, one issue allows for the same amount of timing as half an episode. So what we have on this Free Comic Book Day could be considered a short.

    She should be deaf in one ear after that.

    Indeed, it's more a teaser-trailer for the upcoming ideas, but that doesn't invalidate it as a stand-alone story. Nor should it diminish the comic's own standards.

    I would love to sit at this table.
    Just to know what they're saying.

    To its credit, the artistic skills of Trish Forstner and Heather Breckel do the show proud. Much of the artwork is a close match to the show. Yet Forstner adds her own touch with dyanmic poses, expressions, and a few neat shoutouts via background cameos. For example, Saffron Marsala does not play a direct role in this story but it's just fun to see her.

    Are they... being paid for this?
    Oh no. Please don't tell me they're paid with "exposure"!

    Breckel has also updated a long-standing choice that I've never understood. For a long time now, Spike's mouth and tongue have been shades of green. It's been a consistent enough feature that I assumed it to be an intentional choice. I never understood the reason but guessed that it helped enhance that Spike was different from the ponies. Yet now he has a modified palette. At the same time, Forstner makes it a point to emphasize his fangs and thus continue to make him stand out.

    That doll is simultaneously cute
    and creepy. It's cuepy.

    Which is important because Spike is going to be our guide and proxy throughout this short. The day after Twilight's coronation, it's time for Twilight to lower the moon and raise the sun. Spike is so devoted to helping her achieve this goal that he's even planned for his own lethargy and ways to counteract it.

    Spike, don't say that so loud. That tabloids will hear!

    In a welcome contrast to "Princess Spike", our young hero is completely other-centered as he tries to coordinate events with Twilight's friends. Each page serves as a re-introduction to each character with a supporting cast to help provide a setting. Witnessing this felt reminiscent of the opening to "The Return of Harmony" and "The Cutie Map". We're well familiar with these ponies and yet each introduction feels like a greeting.

    An all-rooster choir? Baritone section must be wicked!

    That's not to say that this is a completely smooth process. Due to the style being very faithful to the show, differences stand out more. For whatever reason, the comic artists have never seemed to enjoy drawing the Royal Guard. If you study the characters in this issue, you'll see that many of the guards are lacking armor details that create a dissonant feel.

    Kidnapped on the first day? Talk about rough!

    Yet the greatest dissonance is that all of this is meant to take-place in the pre-dawn hours. Yet the colors and blue-lit sky would imply we're witnessing these events at noon. I can understand keeping the ponies bright as that's part of the show's appeal, but it's hard to sense a time limit when all this could be happening the day before Twilight's next event.

    This is a typical Tuesday morning with Pinkie.

    Speaking of Twilight, her role in this is reserved for the climax as the guards fear her abduction. Given the show's history, I find that a very practical concern. Yet the real tension is a question posed by Twilight that can easily lead to misunderstanding.

    You haven't needed to depend on them for a while, Twi.

    At the risk of invoking politics, I am wary of the statement "I don't want to be forgotten." It's been my experience that people who focus on history's validation tend to be remembered for the worst reasons. Yet I don't think Twilight is speaking from ego. Rather, she is wrestling with the question of how she will rule. She'll always be remembered as Equestria's savior, but now she wants to build something.

    She built up these students. That's a heck of a start!

    It's a common trope in fiction for a new leader to try and emulate the old before finding their own style. I hope this is a sign that Twilight will be moving past this phase and establishing her own leadership. What that will mean will be the topic of Season 10; a story in which Twilight can no longer dash off on an adventure, but can still have an impact.

    I swear, everypony is trying to get in on Twilight's mane style!

    I do feel a concern with the topic posed by Applejack. If Twilight can't go on as many adventures, it's likely that Spike will also stay close as her trusted aid. This comic may be a tribute to Spike's growth and a celebration of his loyalty. Hopefully, it won't be the last chance for him to show his best.

    Wasn't sure I'd ever get to use this again.

    This free comic also includes a republishing of Pinkie and Cheese Sandwiches' Guardians of Harmony chapter. Given what we now know, I highly encourage people to read this with a shipper's eye. 

    Ideally, this person would be using gloves as well. But a mask is one
    of the best protective measures.

    If not for the pandemic, I'd have no hesitation in recommending this to everyone. It's a testament to Spike, a fun re-encounter with beloved characters, and sets the stage for future comics. But because it is a part of free comic book day, it does require going to get a physical copy. So I want to urge everyone who is interested to practice caution.

    Still one of the best social distancing representations
    I've seen. Very creative!

    Masks are a necessity, and it's a good idea to see how a local comic shop is responding. Ideally, you'll see the staff wearing masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer will be available. I understand the strain all this has placed on the comic industry, with many shops having to close. Yet if a comic shop isn't taking steps to protect its customer base, I don't think it's worthy of your support.

    I hold on to this idea when things get depressing.

    Stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy the return of IDW's comics! I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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