Friday, May 17, 2013

Fridays are Magic: The Comic

The Friendship is Magic comic is so much cooler than it needs to be.

Now, I'm not going to say that it's the best comic ever, or that it belongs in the same conversation as Watchmen or... well, okay, nothing belongs in the same conversation as Watchmen, but you get what I mean. It's not going to go down as one of the Legendary and Important to the Industry as a Whole comics.

But it's still really frickin' fun.

The comic is, in essence, "by bronies, for bronies." Though never going off into truly "adult" humor, it's definitely written with the show's older fanbase in mind. The first story arc, spanning the first four issues, was basically a Lord of the Rings parody with references to David Bowie, Indiana Jones, and Miami Vice thrown in. It was funny and entertaining, though I have to admit that if the series had kept going permanently in that direction, I probably wouldn't have kept reading for long.

The second arc, however, has me absolutely hooked. Everything about the comic seems to have stepped up a notch or two, from the writing to the art. What's more, the team is actually telling a real story this time. A serious story, in fact, one that makes sense within the setting and adds a lot to it, but which isn't something you'd ever see on the show. And considering that, like I said last week, one of my favorite things about the show is the setting and the way it hints at darker things lurking just outside of this peaceful realm, this comic is hitting me right in the Geek Spot.

(Yeah, take a second to process that pun's mental image. I'll be over here.)

The story involves the return of the Nightmare, the strange force that corrupted Princess Luna a millenium ago and turned her into the evil Nightmare Moon. Unfortunately, while Luna was freed from its power way back in the show's first episode, the Nightmare itself survived, and now it needs a new host. Being an intelligent and rational eldritch monstrosity with an appreciation for complex characterization and subtle humor, it decides that the only appropriate vessel for its power is the Best Pony herself, Rarity.

Behold, the savage beastmaster.
I mean, come on, who else is it going to pick? Twilight Sparkle, the most powerful and potentially destructive mage in Equestria? Rainbow Dash, a flier so fast she can shatter the sound barrier and to create massive explosions? Fluttershy, who commands the loyalty of an army of woodland creatures and who can bend cockatrices to her will? Screw that, what the Nightmare wants is fabulousness.

And so, Rarity is abducted, the the rest of the Mane Six, plus Spike and Princess Luna, travel to the moon to save her. (By having Applejack lasso the moon so everypony can tightrope walk across to it. It makes sense in context.) There, they encounter an army of shapeless, shadowy horrors twisted eons ago into the Nightmare's service. Mostly, they look sort of like bunnies. After the vampiric jackalopes in the first arc, I'm starting to suspect this series is co-written by Anya from Buffy.

As you might have guessed from all the panels I keep posting, I think the art is gorgeous. The moon and its inhabitants all have this cool, dark color scheme that nonetheless pops right off the page. The characters look great--definitely better than they did in the first few issues--and everything has a vaguely ephemeral, dreamlike quality to it. It's really friggin' purdy.

The writing's been strong, too, with a good mix of serious storytelling--particularly, Luna's murky relationship with the Nightmare--and humor. Pinkie's the primary source of laughs, as should be expected, but the interplay between the Nightmare's minions is fun as well, and Spike's quest to save Lady Rarity with the Power of Interspecies Statutory Infatuation has actually been pretty touching. Poor li'l Spikey-Wikey.

The latest issue (#7) came out this week, at least on Comixology. Assuming the writers are sticking with four-issue arcs, next month should mark the finale of the Nightmare Rarity storyline. After that, who knows what mysterious part of Equestria we'll get to see next? Maybe we'll learn more about the griffons. Or journey to the gates of Tartarus. Or learn a bit more about the legendary archmage, Star Swirl the Bearded. Or maybe something else entirely.

Whatever the case, I'm on board. This comic rocks.

Here, have some more random panels below the break!

All of the feels.

"... Unless we don't reveal that at all in Issue #7 and just
save it for the end of this arc."

"Honestly, Princess. He insists that it looks 'cool.' And
he's got a sonic screwdriver with a green light. I can't
believe I turn into this chinny git."

God damn it, Pinkie.

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