My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic volume 1

By Katie Cook, Andy Price, Heather Breckel & various (IDW)
ISBN: 978-1-61377-605-6 (TPB)

Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: Inexplicably Adorable and Absolutely Entertaining Romps and Hi-jinks… 8/10

The older I get – a close-run thing in itself, some days – the more I realise how little I know or understand. I’m all about comics, me, and I’m considered by many who’ve bought my books but haven’t actually met me as something of an expert. I’m also always up for a challenge so here’s a hopefully fair review of a graphic novel series that normally I wouldn’t go near…

My Little Pony is a toy and merchandising phenomenon that developed out of a failed line. Constantly reinvented and relaunched, My Pretty Pony debuted in 1981 but was quickly retooled into what we know today. The first successful toy line ran from 1982 to 1992 in the US and 1995 in the rest of the world. The brand was relaunched in 1997, 2003 and 2010, with another line revision this year. If you need more information, there’s this thing called the internet…

These comics are based on the 2010 designs and concepts and this initial collection gathers #1-4 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: a vivid and charming reboot whose toys were sold until October 2019.  The next big thing is – or will be – My Little Pony: A New Generation

Here, however, we visit the land of Equestria; a realm of magical horses like unicorns and Pegasuses, each blessed with special powers and a distinguishing symbol on their flanks: a “cutie mark”. It’s not all fun and games though, as we share the adventures of Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, Fluttershy, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, the Cutie Mark Crusaders (think equine equivalents of Carl Barks’ Little Chickadees) and little dragon Spike, especially after their idyllic life is threatened by darkly demonic Queen Chrysalis who is determined to end the benevolent and protective nurturing rule of magical Princess Celestia

Crafted by writer Katie Cook, illustrator Andy Price, colourist Heather Breckel and letterers Bobbie Robbins & Neil Uyatake, a shocking threat manifests with ‘The Return of Queen Chrysalis’ as all the younger horses and other creatures begin acting weirdly aloof and even hostile…

At first, it’s easy to write it off as bad moods and the impending stellar event of the Secretariat Comet about to narrowly miss Equestria, but as the day passes and the situation deepens, Rainbow Dash and Applejack investigate, and discover things are getting worse by the moment.

Even after calling in all their friends they are unable to contact Princess Celestia and so set out to solve the problem themselves. When diabolical Chrysalis taunts them and kidnaps the ever-eager Cutie Mark Crusaders, our stalwart steeds boldly undertake a fantastic quest under the brooding Appaloosan Mountain range to save the foolish foals, encountering cave trolls, monster spiders, demonic minions, carnivorous plants, Chupacabra and worse before confronting the malign sorceress and beginning a battle of magic they cannot hope to win.

And yet…

Fizzy, ebullient and intoxicatingly silly, this is an astonishingly witty and smart yarn mixing affirming values of friendship and cooperation with good old fashioned fun, thrills and sharp comedy, delivered with stunning visual flourish: a tale as much for parents as the kids they’re rearing.

Adding lustre to joyous laughter are all-Cook short yarns ‘How Much is That Pony in the Window?’ and ‘In the Interim…’, an art gallery by Price and covers and variants by Jill Thompson, Cook, Amy Mebberson, Stephanie Buscema, Amanda Connor & Paul Mounts, J. Scott Campbell & Nei Ruffino.

Despite my preconceptions and misgivings, this book is one of the most enjoyable I’ve seen this year and is well worth a bit of your time and attention.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic volume 1 © 2013 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.