Twilight Sparkle is, much to her relief, having her Intermediate Level Two Magic test postponed. Instead she has to serve as the live-in assistant of Summer Mane, the Royal Library Archivist, for the next few days while she recovers from a broken hoof. At first, Summer refuses to even let her inside, until she makes up a lie that she’ll be replaced if she doesn’t let Twilight help her. Summer Mane turns out to be curmudgeony, unpleasant, sharp, disapproving of everything, and insults Twilight every chance she gets. Nevertheless, she stays on and does her job as an assistant exceptionally well, and after a few days of trying to find fault in everything she does, Summer discovers Twilight is a lot like her and the two slowly begin to form a friendship based around their love of reading. After easing up considerably, Summer leaves one morning to get a pie for the two of them, and Twilight sees the door to her office cracked open. Although she was warned sternly to never go in, Twilight sneaks a peek and Summer, coming back for her checkbook, sees her and yells at her. After a day of no talking, she tells her to pack up and leave and she doesn’t care if she’s replaced. Twilight, weeping at losing a friend, confesses it was a lie she made up to get her to let her in, which prompts Summer to admit she said the same thing when she first took the job. After hesitating, Summer Mane makes a confession that she’s an infamous author (and Twilight’s favorite) who disappeared after her first widely successful book: Jade Singer. She became a recluse because she never expected her tremendous fame from her first book and was scared that she would be expected to “top it”, although she never stopped writing. Twilight admits the same thing happened to her when her entrance exam in Canterlot made her Celestia’s personal student, but she says her friends helped her to get through it, and now Jade has one in her. Some time later, Jade puts out her second book which is lauded as better than her first, and Princess Celestia writes Twilight a letter about friendship: thanking her for helping her bring back her own friend.
Before I get started, a bit of a review for the series as a whole…
The IDW My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic series is still going strong, having been renewed after its original termination issue. But there have been other comic series that have since done their full run. One of these was the “Micro-Series”. Unlike the main drag, this one was a series of one-issue “shorts”, each one of which was devoted to one of ten characters: Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Princess Celestia, Spike, and Princess Luna. I picked them up in case they went off the shelves later. I didn’t expect much. I figured these would be more child-orientated and the main series was what was really to focus on.
Boy, was I wrong.
If you haven’t picked up the Micro-Series, which is now compiled in the two volumes of the “Pony Tales”, I recommend it. Not only are many of these one-issue stories much more in the spirit of the more “hearty” episodes of the TV series, many of them are rather endearing and entertaining. They have humor, drama, and most of all heart. Granted, there’s a couple “duds” in the mix too, but I was pleasantly surprised. I actually think the Micro-Series outdoes the main comic in numerous ways. True, it drifts close to being too “mature” for the series more than once, and in more dramatic ways than the main series comic, but I think overall it’s great. I was very pleasantly surprised. Maybe they’ll have a sequel Micro-Series.
Anyway, enough of the build-up. Let’s start strong with the issue devoted to the main character of the Mane Six: Twilight Sparkle.
This is probably the most “mature” plot ever done in the entire series to date. It goes a bit above and beyond after-school special and reads more like a narrative short story. As such…it’s awkward. I already ragged on Comic Arc #7 being awkward for being something the show doesn’t do, but this one isn’t so much a MLP:FIM story as a serious short story being acted out in cartoon pony format. While it may be appropriate for the Y-rated crowd, I think at least Y7, if not higher, is the minimum age group that can appreciate it. It’s not often that you need something rated higher not due to violence or content but due to comprehension level.
That said…I loved it. It’s touching, it’s realistic, it’s sweet… Even if it missed the mark of the kid audiences all together, it was still great. While I do penalize it for being a bit too much out of context with the rest of the series, it’s really great. It’s loaded with allusions like most stories in the comics but these are all ones you have to be a more “thinking type” to get rather than just a fanboy. In a sense, this is a lot like an “adult” version of “A Friend in Deed” from Season Two. Instead of making the “old fuddy duddy” in this one comically curmudgeony, we’re treated to a portrait of someone who hasn’t grown bitter so much with time as has learned to use that as a defense. An individual who wasn’t scarred by tragedy but scarred by success and spent the rest of her life doubting herself. It may not be too terribly a common problem, but it is one. And it’s one Twilight herself deals with all the time on the show. What makes it more endearing is you realize Twilight sees a lot of herself in Jade. The dinner sequences are the best as you can see two not-terribly-social characters really longing for companionship but not knowing how to deal with it or how to ask for it.
At it’s heart, it’s a story about making a friend and keeping one. Rather simple, but it tells it amazingly well.
I’m sorry, there’s no easy way to put it…this is the sloppiest-drawn story in the entire IDW MLP:FIM series.
Most of the allusions in this one are for more mature and “well-read” audiences.
One of the mispronunciations of Twilight’s name Summer Mane says is “Twylek”. A Twylek is one of the alien races in the Star Wars Universe.
When dismissing Twilight Sparkle’s reading habits, she says she probably only reads comic books or “maybe that silly series with the vampire pony”. This is an allusion to the “Twilight” series. (Twilight…get it? :3)
The character Jade Singer is a takeoff of J.D. Salinger, just as her story “Canter in the Sky” is a knockoff of “The Catcher in the Rye”. Her story is somewhat similar to Salinger’s, as that was his only novel and propelled him to unexpected success. However, Salinger published other short stories before and after “The Catcher in the Rye”. She may also be partially inspired by Harper Lee, who only published a single book herself: “To Kill A Mockingbird”. (On a fun note, Lee will soon have only her second book ever published.)
The first book Twilight Sparkle has to shelf is: “How To Train Your Baby Dragon”. While the title is obviously a knockoff of the “How To Train Your Dragon” series, it seems to actually be a true How-To book here.
“The Boogie Woogie Pony Boy of Stable C.” is a knockoff of “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B”. Between the two panels where Summer Mane sings, you can see her Cutie Mark has eroded, giving a hint at the resolution.
“I Have No Snout and I Must Whinny”, both based on the title as well as the discussion Twilight and Summer have about it, is likely a pony version of “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”, a classic sci-fi horror story.
3.5 Stars out of 5