Apple Bloom, Applejack, changeling, Chrysalis, CMCs, comic, Cutie Mark Crusaders, Fluttershy, IDW, My Little Pony, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, review, Scootaloo, Spike, Sweetie Belle, The Return of Queen Chrysalis, Twilight Sparkle
While out camping overnight at the local zoo, Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo are suddenly ambushed by a group of the animals that have gained green eyes… The next day, Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash note that the three are acting very “zombie-like”. The rest of the girls soon recognize the same thing happening to everyone in Ponyville, with progressively less and less ponies being unaffected until they seem to be the only six “normal” ones left, and are suddenly assaulted by the zombie-like hoard. The Mane Six take refuge in the library and Twilight Sparkle recognizes the clues and concludes the town is being taken over by Changelings. Princess Celestia is currently away, so the girls are left to stop the invasion. They manage to find the captured townspeople in the gazebo and defeat and capture the Changeling swarm, only for Spike to cough up a crystal ball instead of a letter. It turns out it’s from Chrysalis, who has built a new kingdom for herself south of Equestria and is holding the CMCs prisoner there. Through the ball, she gives the girls three days to come get them “or else”. While Twilight is worried that the timing coincides with the astral phenomenon of the Secretariat Comet arriving, Applejack and Rarity are determined to save their sisters and are going with or without the others, and end up swaying the group and causing the Mane Six to head out.
As the path south takes them across the Appleloosan Mountain Range, Twilight leads the girls through an old Diamond Dog tunnel under them, saying it’s the fastest way. However, the girls run into danger in the form of a giant Cave Troll, monstrous spiders, and Changelings. The latter group separates the girls and then impersonates them; pretending to insult the other groups in auditory range in an attempt to get them to break up with one another. While the girls make it out, they appear to be at each other’s throats and split into three separate groups: Twilight and Fluttershy, Applejack and Rarity, and Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie.
In a flashback, it’s revealed after Chrysalis and the Changelings were blown out of Canterlot at the end of Season Two, they landed in a land south of Equestria filled with adorable, loving, furry creatures. Chrysalis and the Changelings ended up feeding on them (and are implied to have killed most of them) to rebuild their strength, but rather than try to attack Canterlot again, Chrysalis became obsessed with getting revenge on Twilight Sparkle for ruining her plan to replace Cadance and conquer Equestria. Her plan was never to drive the girls apart permanently, but have the experience bring them closer together as they came to her. Her plan is to devour Twilight Sparkle’s magic just as the Secretariat Comet powers Twilight up to maximum potential, and afterward feed her minions the outpouring of love the rest of the Mane Six will have for Twilight when she falls. As for the girls, the three groups suffer a series of misadventures running through the Forest of Leota, but end up pairing back together and making up with only an hour to go before reaching the new Changeling Kingdom.
The girls arrive at the Changeling Castle and, after going through a few minor roadblocks courtesy of a disembodied “magic voice”, confront Chrysalis as she has reached her wit’s end with the CMCs constantly annoying her. Chrysalis’ own magic is spiking with the comet’s arrival, and she easily imprisons everyone but Twilight Sparkle. Twilight answers by firing a beam of her own increased-power magic that blasts a huge hole in the castle wall. Realizing she can’t gain that kind of power just from feeding off of it, but that she needs to learn it, Chrysalis offers Twilight Sparkle a deal: become her pupil/peer and teach her about magic and have both of them conquer Equestria and every other kingdom they can find, and she’ll let her friends go without draining them into soulless husks. Refusing to let her friends lose their love and emotion, Twilight agrees…only for Chrysalis to immediately imprison them again and attempt to drain Twilight of her own love so she’ll feed off of them herself. This, however, raises Twilight’s anger and determination, along with the cheers of the other girls and the CMCs, and she rallies herself enough to defeat Chrysalis and the Changelings alone; telling the queen she can only feed off of love…she’ll never know what it is herself or what it means to fight for it. Soon after, a beaten-up Princess Celestia and Spike finally arrive, revealing they were struggling to save Canterlot from giant cockatrices the whole time, and Chrysalis is thrown into the dungeon of her own castle to be endlessly tormented by the castle’s “magic voice” now embodying a hideously goofy-looking “Pinkie Pie suit” she just happened to bring along on the trip.
Toward the end of the second season, IDW comics began to write their own “parallel” series to the main plotline of the show “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”. As IDW traditionally does underground comics for adults, this was quite the departure for them. Therefore, it’s not surprising that while the comic is still kid appropriate for the most part, it probably reaches solid Y7 territory. However, unlike the show, the comic doesn’t even both trying to hide the fact that it’s for adults as well as children, especially since adults (bronies) are the far majority consumers of the comic.
How is the comic?
Well, it’s IDW’s best-selling and was the first non-Marvel, non-DC comic to ever need to print a second edition due to selling out after it’s initial run of 100,000 copies of the first issue. It’s also credited with helping keep the comic industry in the USA afloat. It’d say that’s pretty damn good.
Since this is my first post, I’m kind of talking about the comic in general. Being geared more toward adults, the comic obviously doesn’t hinge so much on the “touchy-feely” stuff, the after-school special element, or the letters-to-Celestia/journal-entries. They’re definitely more action and adventure orientated. While the style is close enough to the series, there’s definitely a lot more facial twisting and detail. And, naturally, the comic is more violent (especially the first arc), darker, and loaded with far more content only adults would get. But all of that said…the characters are usually spot-on with the series, and the plotlines are hit and miss but usually hit…and some of the hits are magnificent. All in all, I think it’s a staple for anyone who calls himself a brony though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to a non-fan.
And now…the first arc…
To me, it made sense to have this be an arc. This started to be written before Season Three started up, so what was on everyone’s mind was what happened to Chrysalis, who was not defeated as Nightmare Moon and Discord were but was rather just “blown away into the horizon”. Well…this arc answered that question by creating a large adventure arc to deal with her return.
Opinions are somewhat mixed regarding this arc. While it sold extremely well and guaranteed the series would go longer than its initial 16-issue slotted run, there are some complaints that there’s not much to it. Essentially it’s a bunch of adventure humor with lots and lots of inside jokes. It doesn’t really have the heart or feeling of the series itself until the second half of the final issue. It’s entertaining, yes. Does it have the feel of an episode? Er…not necessarily.
Chrysalis, much as she did for the second season closer, sells a lot of this. The comic artists made her far more “gross” and vile-looking. She brings to mind depictions of Venom from “Spider-Man” or even something like the Decepticon “Kiss Player Transformers” (Please, please do not look that up…). Rather than the calculating, cool, confident villain she was in the Season Two closer, she’s far more savage and vicious in this one, really playing up the monster angle. And, of course, the biggest shocking thing about this series was that Chrysalis is the first character in the MLP:FIM series to actually be confirmed to kill something. While she and her Changelings are implied to have killed countless of the small, innocent, loving creatures they landed amongst after being blown out of Canterlot (an act that was rather heartless to begin with when the creatures only greeted them with compassion and kindness), but she visibly kills one in one panel by smashing it into a bloody splat. That, obviously, is too heavy for the show…but the fact is enough of the comic is so “in character” with the show that you can actually buy her doing it. For some people (like me), this served to just accent more of Chrysalis’ malice and evil. She is a monster, after all. But for a lot of people, this was too far. Not that they had any sympathy for her character, but rather that it turned Chrysalis into a different kind of villain than the one portrayed in the show.
The biggest problem to me is that the storyline in the second comic of the series is entirely too much like “The Return of Harmony”. It’s impossible to miss the reference. So much so that the authors seemed to realize that, so they quickly aborted it early in the next issue. That seems sloppy to me.
That said, I enjoyed it a lot. Most of what happened in the first three issues was just general silliness, by it was certainly entertaining and there’s nothing wrong with that. And, to be honest, it was an arc I personally wanted to see. Twilight Sparkle was pretty useless in the Season Two finale…only there to do a small amount of side character work so that the show could accent Shining Armor and Princess Cadance and, in turn, sell their toys. And I wanted to see Chrysalis decisively defeated, and defeated by Twilight Sparkle was an added bonus. Plus, the fact that in the end she’s merely locked up means she has the potential to return in the actual series…so great.
So while it lacks the heart of a lot of the other story arcs in the comic and doesn’t seem to quite fit in the vein of the rest of the show, it still provides some closure and I like it. I recommend it. Maybe not as much as the next arc…which should be mandatory viewing for all bronies and should be made into an episode…but still great.
Chronologically, this story takes place in between Season Two and Season Three.
The IDW comic is packed with far more inside jokes and allusions than the series purely for adults…too much, in fact, for me to pick up on all of them, but here’s some:
– In the very first panel of the first comic, the signpost has a sign pointing to “Piglet’s”, an allusion to Winnie the Pooh.
– For the overnight camping, Scootaloo is dressed like Indiana Jones (not Daring Do).
– In addition to numerous cameos of famous background ponies, the first panel of Ponyville features the pony-fied Blues Brothers.
– The Changeling takeover of Ponyville is reminiscent of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, right down to a pony-fied Donald Sutherland pointing out the non-replaced Mane Six.
– Among the various books in the pile that Spike is sitting in when Twilight tells him to write to Celestia is “To Serve Ponies”, a takeoff of “To Serve Man” from the infamous Twilight Zone episode; “Why Apes Will Rule”, either an allusion to “Planet of the Apes” or perhaps foretelling humans will take over one day; and “How I Did It”, an allusion to Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein”.
– The two dog statues guarding the entrance to the mine are “Ziggy” and “Stardust”, a reference to David Bowie,, who originally wrote the song “Diamond Dogs”.
– The Cave Troll treats the ponies as if they were actual-size toys, and puts Fluttershy next to the “corpse” of Optimus Prime, another Hasbro toy. He also calls one of Rarity’s decoy ponies “George”, a reference to the old Looney Tunes character of the Abominable Snowman, who himself was a reference to Lenny from “Of Mice and Men”.
– When Chrysalis sends out the Changelings to the mines, the panel resembles when the Wicked Witch of the West sends out the Flying Monkeys in “The Wizard of Oz”.
– When the giant spiders are about to attack, Rarity says: “Here are the rules. 1) No mussing of the hair or hooves…”, an allusion to Ron Burgundy in “Anchorman”. Toward the end, when Spike and Celestia are telling the girls about their own adventure, he says: “It was awesome! I had a trident!”…an allusion to Brick Tamlin from the same movie.
– When the girls arrive at Chrysalis’ new castle, the entrance resembles an Escher painting, but it’s likely a takeoff of “Labyrinth” with the crystal ball Twilight has bouncing down the first set of stairs.
– Applejack opens a door to a pony-fied version of Mola Rom from “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”. Rainbow Dash opens a door to a pony-fied scene of the twins from “The Shining”. Fluttershy opens a door to a pony-fied version of Pennywise from “It”. Rarity opens a door to a pony-fied Phantom of the Opera. In the middle of them all is a chained door on the floor with green hooves coming out saying “I’ll swallow your soul!”, an allusion to the “Evil Dead” series.
– After Apple Bloom and the others get freed only to get captured again, Apple Bloom mutters: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”, a line from “The Godfather”.
– Celestia mentions the comet caused a giant, magical marshmallow pony to attack Manehattan; an allusion to “Ghostbusters”.
– In the last panel, the enchanted Pinkie Pie suit asks what word rhymes with orange, and one of the Changelings guesses: “Door hinge?”; an allusion to the “Monkey Island” video game series.
Derpy was lured to her fate by muffins. 😦
When the Changeling impersonating Rarity says Pinkie Pie is annoying, letting her “overhear”, her mane deflates as it did in “Party of One”.
The map that appears at the end of the second issue is an extension of the official one released by the show’s creators. Among alluding to other creatures who have shown up in the comics, it includes “San Palomino Desert”, “Saddle Horn Peaks”, and “New Horseleans”.
When Spike introduces the third issue and starts to turn the page, the image on the “upturned page” corresponds to the panel on the opposite page.
In a rather explicit moment that probably would never make it onto the show, Chrysalis, at one point, takes one of the cute animals she’s been feeding on and smashes it into a gory smear.
In the panel where Sweetie Belle shouts that Applejack and Rainbow Dash are there to beat up Chrysalis and omits Rarity, it appears as if Rarity in the crystal ball hears this and is looking shocked.
3 Stars out of 5