• Let's Review: The Unicorn of Odd #1

    It's time once again to re-imagine the classics! And to make the 4th wall a pile of debris.

    Applejack now takes the role of Dorothy on a magical adventure to see the Unicorn of Odd. Let's see how this 19th-century fairy tale fares through the ponies treatment. 

    Catch the full review–and the yellow brick road of spoilers–after the break!


    Before diving in to this review, let's look back at the work of L. Frank Baum. He intended his book to serve as a modern fairy tale; and since it published on May 17, 1900, it fell just shy of being a 20th century fairy tale. The 20th century didn't start until 1901. Baum's goal was the do away with all the classical antagonists like dwarves, dragons, and ogres and give them a break from the brutal fates that awaited them all. Instead, he created a new land with a variety of other creatures upon which he could inflict new brutalities!

    The most brutal aspect is how scary those munchkins look!

    I point towards this because this comic is based on the original book and not the famous movie. The characters themselves point out that while the book is public domain, the movie and its music are not. Get ready for a great many of these self-aware jokes. They make up a sizable part of the story.

    This was a ship back in the day. Not a big one,
    but a ship all the same!

    Before tackling the revised story, let's talk art and the shutdown of speculation. Back with "Little Fillies", I wondered if Jenna Ayoub emulated the older, flattened look of classical art. Seeing that same style presented here–despite a very different style accompanying "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" publication–I now have an answer. That answer is "no". One need only look at teh three covers to see how this story could have been presented if the artist were Robin Easter or Andy Price.

    Shading is your friend. Look at the depth presented here!

    Looking at Ayoub's Behance account, it seems she prefers simplified forms with greater emphasis on clothing folds and minimalist shading. With humans, I think this works well and can strike a good balance between distinct art and speedy production.

    This looks fun. I wouldn't mind checking it out.
    Ponies are a much different take. Because their muzzles extend further and are a much more impactful part of their expressions, the flatter style doesn't add the needed vitality. It feels like Ayoub is working off the original vector images that were a part of Friendship is Magic's earliest advertising. Though interestingly she puts a great amount of detail in Applejack's ponytail. Perhaps to emulate the pigtails associated with the original Dorothy.

    An intersting amount of definition in her mane,
    but little else on her face.

    Heather Breckel helps adds some context to the earlier pages by slightly desaturating the colors. This both matches the seemingly dreary description of Kansas, where everything seems gray and struggling, and signifies a difference between the mundane world and the land of Odd which we are about to explore.

    Even the twisters are gray!

    It isn't long before the ponies begin asserting their own will over the story. Rarity starts off as Big Mac's wife, but we quickly get a retcon separation to spare Big Mac's sanity. We also have Applejack demanding her own style on the character she portrays.

    Appledorthy: Intense negotiator!

    You may notice while reading that there's no proxy for the Wicked Witch of the West yet. That's because–unlike the movie–she's more of a dangerous presence that a full-fledged character for much of the book. Instead, Appledorthy will have to learn about her eventual antagonist by word of mouth. This starts when she realizes that she's crushed the Wicked Princess of the East–Princess Luna. It seems that Twilight, Celestia, Luna, and Queen Chrysalis will be serving as the four Witches/Princesses/(Queen?) for this story, though the story takes special care to affirm that Luna isn't really dead. Just resting. Either way, Appledorothy gets her first magical item: a pair of silver shoes. This is again faithful to the original book over the movie.


    That's definitely Nightmare Moon's legs!

    Taking the place of the Munchkins are the Breezies. If you're up-to-date on G5 news, you'll know that these little pony fairies are suddenly a big focus. I don't know if this is coincidence or planning, but I think they make a better case for the newly-liberated than, say, Shetland ponies.

    The Breezies are enjoying another 15 seconds of fame!

    The Good Princess of the North, Celestia, lays out Applejack's quest and sets her on the path to the Unicorn of Odd. We have an aborted moment of feminism when Applejack seems to resent that the lone male in the land of Odd is the highest authority. Given what we know of the original tale, however, I'm gonna let this slide and look forward to the falsehood's reveal.

    I wonder if Fancy Pants will be one of the illusions.


    We only get one of the quintet added in this issue. Pinkie Pie the Scarecrow isn't very good at her job because she's too good at making friends. This stands in stark contrast to the original scarecrow, who was good at his job until one elderly crow tested his ability and found him lacking. The old crow "consoled" the scarecrow that he needed brains to do better. Pinkie Crow wants some smarts so she can plan parties.

    A new character has joined the party!

    With that, the trio set off towards the Emerald City and we close out this first issue. It does a fine job of establishing the land, the stakes, and several of the characters. The weakest aspect is that the fourth wall jokes become too intrusive. Rather than seeing how the story adapts to a pony cast, we have them constantly putting a stop to the story flow, demanding changes, and resuming. It creates a start/stop feeling that can be comical but also frustrating. The art, while strong with environments, doesn't support the characters' designs and takes away some energy as well.


    Even a flying house can get boring if it goes on too long.

    My hope is that they'll tone down the fourth wall jokes as the story progresses. Time will tell. If you're a fan of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" or just want a little bit more of G4, I think this is a fun investment. We'll see how the full story unfolds.

    Hey, neither of you got abducted. Congrats!

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

    Silver Quill on Twitter