Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Little Pony - Micro Series #2 Review

While today saw the release of plenty of good comic books, there was one book that I was particularly excited to get my hands on.  It wasn't one that I was expecting to be eagerly anticipating, but life throws curve balls at you sometimes.  But I'm putting the cart before the horse here.  The book in question was My Little Pony: Micro Series #2 starring Rainbow Dash, written by Ryan "the Stallion" Lindsay and arted by Tony "the Pony" Fleecs.  Having read through the title, I have plenty of things to say about it.  It would behoove you to check behind the jump to find out exactly what those things are.

Written by Ryan K. Lindsay
Art by Tony Fleecs

The story of My Little Pony: Micro Series #2 begins with a festival that celebrates all things flying, with a particular emphasis on our issues heroine, Rainbow Dash.  However, things soon take a turn for the worse as Rainbow finds herself in troubled skies, trapped in the midst of a dark cloud that is generally kind of a nag.  Unfortunately for Ponyville, that cloud of negativity rains on their parade, seeping away at their happiness and putting everyone is in a pretty foal mood.  The issue then follows Rainbow as she attempts to put things right, and let me tell you, it's no dog and pony show.

Well, I mean, there's plenty of ponies, but nary a dog to be seen.  And the comic is far from boring, as Ryan K. Lindsay and Tony Fleecs pony up to deliver on heck of a read.  I've always been a sucker for one-shots, all-ages stories, and humour in my comics, and this book hits that triple crown like you wouldn't believe.  It is, unsurprisingly, a My Little Pony book to its very core, but that's one of its greatest strengths.  Lindsay takes that well-established world and leverages it to tell a compelling tale that is approachable to readers regardless of their familiarity with the property.  Lindsay remembers that the most important thing when it comes to comics is that, regardless of target audience, they should be fun.  And let me tell you, Lindsay and Fleecs bring that fun.  They bring it in spades.

Lindsay's narrative is extremely well-paced, introducing story elements and information at exactly the right time.  Things trot along at a quick pace, moving forward in a natural and logical way.  This isn't what you'd call the most complex or nuanced story you'll ever encounter, but Lindsay rides it for all it's worth, telling an engaging tale that is hard to put down.  Lindsay's dialogue is also top notch, with every character, no matter how large or small their role, having something distinct to their wording and cadence that sets them apart.  Rainbow Dash is particularly enjoyable to read, which is a plus seeing as she's the focus of the story.

Dash's dialogue is fast and furious, coming in long, near train of thought bursts.  It's almost a little too cutesy and self-aware at times, but for the most part, Lindsay manages to stay just on the right side of that line.  Indeed, Rainbow has some of the best zingers and jokes in a book that is replete with them.  It's almost like a stampede at times, but many of the jokes and gags end up serving the plot, offering them an extra importance beyond their eliciting hearty guffaws and chortles.

One type of joke that both Lindsay and Fleecs seem particularly fond of are allusions to popular culture of all varieties.  References to movies, music, television, and more are packed into these panels, and they, too, often help the story along in at least a small way.  Catching the references is by no means a requisite for enjoying the comic; in fact, many of them are funny even if you don't know their true origin.  However, for alert readers, it feels like Lindsay and Fleecs are putting those jokes there just for you.  It can sometimes feel like a subtle wink between friends.  And while I'm a big sucker for Fight Club references of any variety (and yes, there is a Fight Club reference in this issue and it's rock solid), one of the best references is a sly Simpsons one.  I don't know if I've seen a better goggle reference before, but once it happens in this comic, all of a sudden one of the many details that Fleecs has put into this comic makes all the sense in the world.

Fleecs is a true stud on this book, delivering some gorgeous and crazy colourful pages.  There are a surprising number of action sequences throughout the issue, and they all look great.  Fleecs' work has a subtle quality to it in that everything just looks really nice.  There's lots of neat little touches and details sprinkled throughout the comic that testify to the care Fleecs had in drawing these pages.  He does an excellent job of melding the house My Little Pony style with his own, making for some solid comics.  Whether it's the instances where action bleeds between panels, his old-timey news segments, or any of the other brilliant little things he does, you can tell that he was champing at the bit to give it his all, and it shows.  He is just as important to this book's jokes as Lindsay, as Fleecs lays down tons of great visual quips that add just as much as any written one.  This book looks great, and Fleecs deserves full credit for his bronco busting work.

Verdict - Buy It.  I could trumpet this book until I'm horse in the throat.  This is an excellent My Little Pony comic, with the emphasis on the comic part.  If you like one-shots, if you like fun comics, and if you like something that's approachable on a number of levels, then this is the book for you.  You should hoof it to your local comic book shop and grab yourself a copy.  You won't even have to trade your kingdom for it.  It's possibly the one gift horse that you can look in the mouth.

And as a final tail end to this review, I make no apologies for the horse puns, so you neighsayers should probably get over it.

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Neil said...

I come for the commentary, but I stay for the horse puns.

Nevin P. Jones said...

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes to all of the horse puns.

Mark Pellegrini said...

I guess I'll repost my thoughts from the IDW Forums:

I enjoyed this micro more than the Twilight Sparkle one

Lindsay had a great handle on Dash's voice and I suppose her abrasive personality makes for a more interesting story than the reserved and milquetoast Twilight, so it's not all that fair to compare them.

It's also nice to see VILLAINS, which is something the cartoon only dabbles in on special ocassions. While I enjoy the slice of life stuff quite a bit, it's nice to get some antagonists every now and again. The Gremlins felt like they'd have made a good fit for the cartoon and, well, I instinctively read them with the voices of Ren and Stimpy. Granted, their dialogue didn't match those voices, but their designs just demanded it.

The conflict had a good stream of build up, as every failure on Dash's part made the cloud more powerful. Sure, the resolution of "believing in yourself" was a little typical, but it suited the story and Lindsay dressed it up with some well punctuated humor (I enjoyed the sound effect gags; kind of reminded me of the similar gimmick used in Fairly Odd Parents).

And hey, Dash's house can be roped down to the ground. Nice little detail and helps explain away how she got home with a busted wing in the Daring-Do episode.

Fleecs's art was also a step up from the art in the last micro and the characters were more consistent with their models. I still feel like the coloring is trying a bit too hard to capture the bright Flash-animated look of the cartoon instead of doing its own thing like in the MLP ongoing, but it looked alright.

What I really appreciated was that the Micro struck a good balance with Dash's character; she's got an ego but isn't necessarily conceited, either. Some writers don't always get that and she ends up feeling more like a self-parody than a real character under the wrong pen. Hope Lindsay gets some more work later on; he seems to have a pretty good handle on the characters and the setting.

(and I liked the constant TV coverage of the events, but maybe because I read the reporter with Chick Hearn's voice)

James Lindsay said...

Loved the review and LOVED the comic even more!!!!

Bought it on Comixology but will be getting a paper copy too!!!!!

Great writing, art and letting. Would love a full list of the references. Got heaps but know I missed a few!!!!

Matt Duarte said...

I wanted to count all the horse puns but I lost count halfway through the review.

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