Review: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1

Written by Katie Cook
Art by Andy Price
Color by Heather Breckel
Letters by Robbie Robbins

Color/32 Pages/$3.99

Published by IDW Publishing


I looked and beheld a periwinkle horse, and he who sat upon it was named 

Part I: Equus

For many years, I saw a pony each morning as I sipped microwaved apple cider and scratched myself on the back porch. She was a musty purple mare from the Dance ‘n Prance collection of 1988. Her name, I have learned, was Tap Dancer. I’ve been a-Googling.

One summer’s day as the 1980s waned, my high-strung neighbor (let’s call her Katelyn, because that was her name) plucked Tap Dancer by her lustrous golden tail and twirled her like a hunter’s bolas above her head, finally launching her onto the roof of an abutting property’s garage. There Tap Dancer remained for well over a decade as a Wall fell in Berlin; a glove did not fit, forcing the jury to acquit; and Katelyn’s family moved away. There Tap Dancer endured the scalding Philadelphia sun and the nippy Philadelphia winters, unmoved by the autumn winds my mother oft deemed “blustery.” There Tap Dancer moldered, her synthetic hair thinning, picked at by nesting grackles and whip-poor-wills, her faded shank sooty with the exhaust of passing trucks.

In the end, a new neighbor bristling with vim and vigor lassoed the aging pony from her resting place with a well-aimed garden hose. “Want it?” said the man, who reminded me more than a little of Rushmore’s Mr. LittleJeans (The Royal Tenenbaum‘s Pagoda if you’re nasty).

“No, thank you,” I lied.

Part II: The Glue That Binds

That is my My Little Pony story, and surely we each have at least one. Unless you’re a Visigoth. In which case you likely have a regular horse story and are dead. My story is perhaps a dark one, a tale of childhood’s end. Because Tap Dancer’s cutie mark is a top hat and cane, it may also represent the loss of pageantry and the ongoing struggle to repopularize live performance art. But mostly the childhood’s end thing. Not as brutal as Steinbeck’s The Red Pony, but furnished with a perverse commentary on capitalism, and Wes Anderson characters. It is a tale of glory faded. That’s the important bit anyway.

Because here comes the light.

From My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1

Part III: All the Pretty Horses

Having never seen an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (though that’s going to change right the hell quick), nor brushed the mane of any of its spritely new equestrian figures (ditto, right quick), I was astonished to encounter such a rich, dazzling mythology in Katie Cook and Andy Price’s new tie-in comic series. It might not reach the chockablock continuity bounty of Disney’s Gargoyles (that shit had temporal distortions and Shakespearian metafiction), but it certainly borders on the above-and-beyond thoughtfulness of Adventures of the Gummi Bears. I’ve lost some of you, but the proper audience is nodding a whole bunch right now.

For starters, everypony, there are a lot of horses. Some of them are unicorns. One’s even a dragon and not actually a proper horse. They’ve got this whole merit badge system of earning cutie marks, which is much cuter and more of a coming-of-age, self assertion thing than the usual branding horses experience on horse ranches. Although, do ranchers brand horses or is that just cattle? It’s got this whole Care Bear Cousins meet Kunta Kinte from Roots identity reclamation thing I found really neat.


It’s also darker than I’d expected with a zombie-changeling pod-pony plot that caught me somewhat off-guard. Some ponies are encased in what I suppose is crystalizing mucus, allowing for evil, sharper edged ponies to take on their colorful appearance and infiltrate Ponyville society as glass-eyed sleeper agents. Meanwhile, the real ponies are trapped in these snot cocoons and a mystical comet is headed into the Horse Head Nebula, boding for some supernatural heartache.

Of course, none of this would work if the ponies themselves weren’t so charming. Cook and Price cram in a heaping helping of pony banter, making for a full and hyperactive reading experience. As a newcomer, it took a bit before I fully acclimated myself to world of Friendship is Magic, but by the end of this first installment, I feel like I’ve earned my own cutie mark in brony scholarship. It’s enthusiastic, pun-riddled, and even wildly action-packed.

Best of all, it’s vibrant, brimming with extreme expression in its cartooning, a lush color palette, and a whole lot of horsing around. Between this and Adventure Time and Superman Family Adventures, even Reed Gunther, there’s a refreshing sense of all-out abandon and positivity in all ages comics and animation right now. There’s plenty of cynicism out there, but I like to hope that’s being drowned out in some corners by books like this, a smart and fanciful hoof to the face of negativity. The call to adventure in this debut issue’s closing pages is a sparkly triumph.

Part IV: A Study in Hippology

There’s that old cliche of artists hating to draw horses. It’s practically a cosmic joke. The great illustrated horses seem to be exceptions to the rule. Hardly a week goes by when we don’t wince at a crude looking horse on a comics page, to the point that they’re almost a Free Space in an artistic critique. “What’s that, an alligator terrier? Well, let’s let that one go. They tried.” The creators of Friendship is Magic wisely side-stepped this problem by not casting actual horses in their development stage. The My Little Ponies of the 80s were essentially doe-eyed ermine with elephant feet. Today’s everypony are even further removed from actual horses. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at a sea monkey, but Rainbow Dash, Applejack and Rarity might have a few more chromosomes in common with those little oddities than with last year’s Preakness contenders.

How great is Rainbow Dash, by the way? Pony’s got full-spectrum moxie.

All this to say that the ponies have a wonderful design that lends itself to expression. Whatever points one might subtract for anatomical horseplay are gained right back in flexibility, for the sheer number of faces to be pulled.

Part V: Hi Ho, Silver

I think back on poor, doomed Tap Dancer today. On her years under snow and rain and sun. Of her thinning mane and fading purple flank. You could make her tail spin by twisting the yellow broach at her neck like the dial of a watch. She’s long since gone to pasture in a Pennsylvania landfill, retired years too soon to see the resurgence of the My Little Pony name. Not that she would be able to enjoy it, inanimate as she was.

But we might’ve pretended she could by noting the gleam in that sticker that served as her eye. The one on the downturned side facing the shingles, presumably. Again, the weather.


Story: 4 / Art: 4 / Overall: 4

(Out of 5 Stars)


  1. WHAT IS GOING ON?? The ifanboys are slowly turning into BRONIES!!

    • not all of us.

    • Just you wait, Ronnie!

    • I’m not diminishing the book’s achievement or any of the creator’s involved, (I wish them all the luck in the world – it’s obvious they don’t need it) – but I’ve seen this book getting crazy pre-orders and it being heralded as an ‘All Ages Book’, but let’s be honest.
      The success of this title is the byproduct of an adult fanbase that has co-opted the franchise almost entirely to the point that it’s overshadowed its target audience.

    • Kids are short though, so they’re bound to be overshadowed.

      In all seriousness, yes, adults are responsible for the wave of preorders. Which only makes sense because children don’t, by and large, have money. Not all of the adults will share it with a kid. Some don’t know any. Many of them will though. We have comments on the issue’s dedicated page from parents saying it’s their child’s first book on a pull list.

      Adults will buy it. Some kids will scrounge up their allowance and buy it too. In the end, adults and kids will enjoy it. And that’s lovely.

    • they already got Paul and Josh, Ron better watch his back…

    • “In the end, adults and kids will enjoy it. And that’s lovely.”

      As a father, I think it’s great if this series offers the opportunity for a parent to share a cool book with their children, but speaking as a liberal-minded guy, I’m just not convinced that an adult male should have the same interests as a pre-teen girl. No matter how well written or drawn.

    • @Will Magnus: “All-Ages” means just that–it’s entertainment designed for everybody, young and old. Pixar movies appeal to both pre-teen girls and adult males. How do you feel about those?

    • Good craft is good craft is good craft. Not sure what else to tell you.

    • Interesting use of “should” there, @Will Mangus *puts glasses on tip of nose* 😉

    • My wife made me call the shop to make sure they had the variant with my daughter’s favorite pony on the cover. When my wife, who knows nothing of comics, is concerned about variant covers then it’s a whole new world.

    • @Conor – There’s no comparisons. It is about intentions and desired results of those intentions by the creators.
      Pixar films are made for adults, just as much as they are for children (the creators have said as much – they know parents are having to sit there for 90 mins too).
      My Little Pony was created for pre-teen girls, but has been taken over by an unintended audience (Adults, particularly with adult males between 18-24).
      To Hasbro’s credit, they are embracing that market. If someone derives pleasure from such an actvity or fetish, have at it. It’s none of my business.

    • @Will Magnus: But we’re talking about the comic book here, which is created to appeal to all-ages, not the toys, so the comparison is completely valid.

    • @Will Magnus Apparently you want it to be your business, so…

      It’s evident that Lauren Faust, the creator of the Friendship is Magic iteration of the franchise has employed an all-ages approach rather than a just-for-kids approach. So I wouldn’t say it was co-opted or “taken over by by an unintended audience.” I think Faust recognized that, as an adult, she and those of her generation still have a lot of affection for the brand. She smartly geared the show towards a broader base. In that sense, I don’t see any difference between this and Pixar. There’s nothing sinister here.

  2. I actually like that artwork. I may pick this up if my girls are interested.

  3. A brilliant review, Paul. This looks like more fun than a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper.

  4. Paul this is a triumph of a review. Really, just a fantastic write-up. Thank you!

  5. Excellent review. Your stellar description leads me to believe that many people will be enjoying this rich mythology for years to come. I will not be one of those people.

  6. I f’n love that cartoon. It is just so charming and fun. My wife and I like it even more than my daughter does. I will definitely get the trade of this when it comes out.

  7. Excellent writing, Paul. I’m still not gonna read it, but a damned entertaining review nonetheless.

  8. this is a joke, yes? the same way that mustaches, cut-offs, liking hall and oates, and being into jai alai is a joke, right?

  9. First, this is AMAZING. Bravo, Paul!

    I am so freaking excited for the comic!! The cartoon is really fantastic–just fun and charming and all-around wonderful. It’s a complete joy to watch. As soon as they announced Katie Cook on the comic, I knew it was in very good hands.

    In case anyone was wondering, I had Mainsail, Wave Runner, Skylark, and Bright Bouquet family ponies growing up.

  10. I give this review 5 stars. Fantastic, Paul. My 4-year-old is a huge MLP fan, so I’ve pulled this for her (…and maybe me).

    That being said, I have a similar Tap Dancer story, though it involved a naked Ronald McDonald action figure on my friend’s roof. Our New England winters were equally unkind to Ronald’s bare arse.

  11. Yeah i’m in. The guys at my shop were talking about the show a while ago. So i started watching it w/ my son. It’s pretty good. Much better than most kids shows.

  12. Gargoyles was the shit.

    Great review, Paul! I really enjoyed reading it.

  13. I’m sold. My daughter is only 2 months, but I’ve been planning to indoctrinate her with comics (I have a whole stash of all-ages stuff I’m saving for her). So, yeah, I’ll be “buying this for her.” : )

  14. This may be the best thing you’ve ever written for this site, Paul – almost too good! My curiosity is piqued.

  15. Aw hell no.

  16. This has got to be one of the greatest reviews, of anything, ever. Well done Paul. Seriously.

  17. Welcome to the herd, dear Paul.

    My girlfriend and I are for hell sure getting this. Thanks for an open-minded reading and a witty review.

    I smell the brewing of an iFanboy civil war: the reactionary pony haters who have never read or watched My Little Pony vs. bronies and people who aren’t bronies but think it uncool to bash on New Sincerity.

  18. Starting episode 1 on Netflix streaming…now.

  19. Great to read some positive vibes on this. I didn’t find out about this til about a week ago, and I was all set to pick one up today to read w/ my 4 year old daughter (who loves the show), but my local didn’t end up getting any. Glad I didn’t tell her anything about it beforehand… Will have to look elsewhere I guess…

    • If you can’t find a copy, let me know. My shop had tons. Want to make sure you and the kiddo are all sorted. I wouldn’t be anywhere if my mom hadn’t read to me or took me to story time at the library when I was little, so it’s an important cause for me.

  20. Is it going to be part of the Age of Ultrons?

  21. I just read it comic and will be posting my review soon, good review though I was curious to see how someone who hasn’t seen the show would think of it.

  22. What the f**k is going on here?!

  23. Is this a generational thing? I was born in the mid-70’s so I don’t quite understand the brony mindset. Even when I was in high school I don’t remember the younger boys on my block playing with my little pony. My sister and her friends did. I’ll take your word that the cartoon and the comic are high quality. I am shocked by the sale on this book, and the online reaction especially from the Ifanbase.

    • I was born in ’84. Boys didn’t much play with them either as I was coming up. But I played with the boy and girl next door. Danny was a bit older so he’d moved on to video games and hockey. I played a good bit of Sega Genesis with him. Kate was a year younger than me I think. We played with my toys and hers. So sometimes a My Little Pony or Barbie would end up in the mix with my Turtles or Thundercats. Tap Dancer was hers.

      From what I understand, there’s a good mix of both boys and girls and men and women and everybody in between watching the Friendship is Magic series and going to the conventions. I think the sensibility of this new iteration has made for a wider appeal. Since that’s in now way excluding girls and is actually more inclusive, that’s in no way a bad thing.

  24. I have to say, even though the art style doesn’t match the show’s perfectly, I am rather impressed with Price’s work. There’s quite a bit of detail to be found, including a whole bunch of subtle jokes and references in the backgrounds. I also noticed some pretty fancy panel-work during the face-off between the “Mane Six” and the changelings. Loved the shot with a look through the holes in the changelings’ hooves.

    Oh yeah, and the hilarious expressions are a plus.