• Let's Review: My Little Pony #8


    Witness all as Andy Price returns to the comics and joins forces with new writer Shauna Grant! Izzy's facing a challenge and it's an energetic journey as she seeks a way to connect with her best friend.

    Check out the full review, plus some hyper spoilers, after the break!


    This comic occupies a curious space. It's still not advancing the Discord narrative that started this series, but it's also following in the disappointing wake of MLP #7. We need a boost, and that's just what this artist/writer duo created.


    I don't recognize these extras, but that one on the end represents pain incarnate!

    Andy Price has done exceptional work during his IDW run. No matter the character design, he manages to infuse them with such energy and emotion. Who better to draw Izzy Moonbow as she explores how she can best contribute and connect with her friend. I'm sometimes curious to know how much of what we see is the author's script notes to Price or if it's Price having full creative reign. I could see someone writing "Izzy prepares materials for the banner", and Price envisioning a Glitter Blast-O-Matic.


    I want to believe Rarity came up with that glitter blaster.
    Or Pinkie, who was helping Rarity.

    Yet I also notice a change in Price's approach. While there are still ample references and jokes hidden within each panel, his approach to Maritime Bay is very different than Ponyville. There are a handful of specific locals that draw the eye, often by name. Price has fun with these designs; even playing the with spelling to help make it distinct. Though between you and me, I wouldn't trust a place that called itself "Füd King". I need to know they understand what food really is.

    "Shoppe" is an intentionally archaic spelling of "shop" to evoke an old-time, comfort feel.
    "Füd" didn't turn up any kind of pleasant definition.

    What's missing is ponies who reference other famous characters. Maritime Bay doesn't seem to have the same passion for background characters as we saw in Friendship is Magic. Perhaps this is a stylistic choice by the franchise to help distinguish it. Or perhaps Maritime Bay just hasn't established a wide enough ensamble yet for there to be many background references. FiM had at least two seasons under its belt before the comics started whereas Make Your Mark has only a smattering of specials and episodes. I'm hoping that with time, Price can play more with the populace once again. I also miss the Watcher Pony, wherever or whatever he may be.


    Sounds like a messy festival.

    The biggest artistic flaw I see has to deal with a brief Discord cameo. It seems Price didn't get the notice about Discord's disheveled look. Having drawn Discod for so many years, I can understand why Price would draw him in a familiar way. This speaks more to IDW's struggle to coordinate between issue teams and creating a cohesive story.


    His scheming face!

    It's because of the past story dis-junctions that I don't expect this issue to influence the next big Discord entry. In fact, Sunny's attitude towards Discord's theft of the pegasus crystal is the polar opposite of the worry we've witnessed in past issues. Yet again I chalk this up to a lack of communication between teams. Which is a shame because writer Shauna Grant does several things well worth honoring. Which is doubly-impressive given her limited time working on My Little Pony. Going by information on the net, much of Grant's work focuses on her own creation "Mimi and the Boo-Hoo Blahs", published by Scholastic. More recently, she's been an illustrator for a historical comic: "Rosa Parks & Claudette Colvin" along with two Adventure Time covers for BOOM! Studios. This dual role as both writer and illustrator may be part of why she and Price work well together.


    Did I mention Price also excels in horror?

    Whatever the case, it's clear that she paid attention to the premiere movie and the concept of Izzy's ability to see a pony's sparkle. Though we have never seen the world through Izzy's eyes, Grant uses this idea to help flesh out Izzy's interactions with the world and how she connects with other ponies. In fact, her advice to ponies varies depending on fluctuations in that same sparkle. It's not the same as Pinkie Sense, but it is something unique to Izzy.


    That moment you realize someone has stolen your momentum.

    Izzy's reflections on her place in the world can be a big confusing in terms of time lapse. At first she and Sunny are whipping up their favorite smoothie recopies, but as Izzy concludes her introspection it's suddenly the next day. This is the one time in the issue that I felt jarred out of the narrative as I had to recognize the transition. It's a strange idea that Izzy could have been pondering this for at least several hours.


    Deep introspection!

    The second element worth celebration actually does tie into the larger Discord arc: the idea that magic creates barriers to interaction. Izzy spends much of this comic wishing she could keep up with Sunny's efforts to spread magic, but limitations like the absence of flight discourage her. This is the very thing Discord used to bolster his argument that magic needs to be removed. Izzy's retort isn't formed in words, but through action. She doesn't dwell on what she can't do and instead commits herself to a plan that embraces her magical talent and creativity.


    I love everything about this panel.
    From Izzy's energy to the chaotic gathering of materials.

    I won't summarize this plan as I really do want you all to check this issue out. It's a strong presentation for both Grant and Price. We can go over the part where Izzy's plan doesn't quite work as she's unintentionally overstepping boundaries. Grant recognizes the flaws in each character. Izzy's excitement enabled her to traverse social boundaries to meet a new friend, but it can also cause her to trespass into uniquely personal matters. At the same time, Sunny can be blinded by her pursuit of the big picture that she neglects important relationships nearby. The reconciliation between the two is endearing and opens the door to strengthening their bond through parallel play.


    The proportions are a bit off, but the emotion is spot-on.

    There's a beauty in this story's simplicity. Though there are some ill-mannered foals at the beginning and end, Izzy serves as both protagonist and as a self-doubting antagonist. Her journey is linear but enthusiastic thanks to Price's depiction. The characters interact naturally with moments of both unintentional action but also self-reflection. Given that this builds on ideas introduced by the movie, I would argue that this is the strongest issue in terms of franchise continuity.


    Ah, the memories of that first movie viewing...

    I still don't understand why we have such long stretches between developments. I think this strategy ultimately backfires by stoking audience impatience. Past experience has laid out a four-part storyline often followed up by one or two stand-alone issues as a means to let the audience breath. Three months of wondering what will happen next followed by some light-hearted events before diving into the rhythm once again. This comic would be one of those breathing points if not for the layout of the larger comic line. Instead of being appreciated in its own right, I expect some will focus on the frustration that this is yet another delay before the confrontation with Discord. It's a similar problem to the start-stop releases of G5 specials and episodes. A far more staggered approached than the weekly releases that gave Friendship is Magic a nice rhythm.


    Oh no! Twilight sacrificed herself to hold Equestria together!
    That, or I'm reading way too much into a label.

    Such a reaction is understandable but unfair. There's so much to praise here. Even though the central story is very simple, the characters are able to shine within that simplicity. Grant shows a fantastic understanding of both Izzy and Sunny and Price does an excellent job bringing them to life. The confusing/dissonant bits are so minor that you may not even notice them on the first read.

    Just the look on those faces...

    This is a welcome re-invigoration for the comic line and hopefully it leads into the final encounter with Discord. On its own, I highly recommend checking it out.

    Okay, those expressions make me wonder what's really in that smoothie.

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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