Let me get this out of the way, I am… familiar with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I have daughters and most of their attention seems split between Barbie, Disney Princesses and My Little Pony. I have Friendship is Magic episodes on my DVR, and I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the DTV movie Equestria Girls while driving somebody to gymnastics. I am not a Brony (I’m not judging you) but I believe I am qualified to review the My Little Pony Annual 2013 from IDW.
Written by Katie Cook and Ted Anderson, with pencils by Andy Price and Tony Fleecs the Annual serves as a prequel to the Equestria Girls movie. That film told the story of Princess Twilight Sparkle traveling to another dimension in order to retrieve her crown, stolen by Sunset Shimmer for its “Element of Harmony”. In the other dimension Twilight finds herself turned into a human and human analogues of all her friends going to the same high school. Hijinks ensue.
The Annual (mostly) tells the story of this other dimension. It opens with Sunset Shimmer studying under Princess Celestia in Equestria. Sunset Shimmer is powerful but believes she deserves more and should rule Equestria herself. When she discovers a mirror that serves as a portal to another dimension she ignores Celestia’s warnings and passes through. The narrative jumps too and we meet with the human versions of Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Rarity and Fluttershy (the cast of My Little Pony, sans Twilight) at Canterlot High School. The girls are interviewed for the school paper and the rest of the book uses this device to tell the story of their freshman year and how they became friends.
This book is fun. Straight up, no caveats. I’m not saying it’s; “fun for a kid’s book” or “fun as a My Little Pony story”, I’m not being dismissive or reductive. It stands just fine as a work next to anything else that came out this week all ages or otherwise. This is due mostly to Cook and Anderson who have the voices of these characters down pat. Cook has been writing the flagship MLP book for a big chunk of its run and Anderson has written two of the Micro-Series issues. The opening 8 pages (set in the Pony world) are written by Cook with art by Price and are apparently reprinted from a SDCC variant of issue #9. Anderson handles the bulk of the issue set in the alternate/human dimension and it’s great.
I like these characters (human or pony) a lot, I like that they’re intelligent problem solvers. I like that they work together and help each other. This might be because I'm a father of girls who has seen too many Princess movies but I especially like that nobody’s waiting around for a Prince to save them or for someone to tell them what they can or can’t do.
They get shit done.
And they’re funny! I laughed at a bunch of jokes in the book (most came from Pinkie Pie), and I’ve enjoyed the sort of dry humor Twilight is written with in other issues (yes, I am talking about a talking purple pony). When I read this issue I could hear the characters voices in my head* and that’s a good sign for any licensed property transferred to comics. There’s not really any magic or craziness in this issue, it’s mostly high school drama and Anderson handles it well. The girls each have distinct personalities, worries and egos. They become friends, fall away from each other and come together stronger in the end. It’s not a revolutionary plot but it’s well executed and fun to read.
The art is similar, Fleecs is tasked with recreating the look of the Equestria Girls movie and he succeeds admirably. There are a few visual gags that are handled well and the coloring by Heather Breckel and Lauren Perry is bright and fun. The opening sequence is also well penciled by Andy Price.
Bottom line, if you’re a My Little Pony fan you’re probably buying this already and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. For everybody else I would say this is a well written, funny tween drama type book. It’s about going to a new school, making friends and fitting in. If you’re in the shop this Wednesday, maybe a little tired of dead Justice Leagues and the coming of Thanos, if maybe you’re looking for a book that culminates in a school coming together to cheer on their soccer team; then My Little Pony Annual 2013 is the book for you.
*To be fair this is likely related to me imitating those same voices when I read the books aloud to my daughters.