Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Comic Catch-up: Issue #1 - The Return of Queen Chrysalis Part 1

Now that all the episodes are on the way, let's move on to the next best thing: The official comics! Unfortunately, this first one is a bit of a rough start.

This initial issue for the comic is considerably weaker than the ones to follow. Everything isn't nearly as well made as it is in later issues, and while the foundations can be seen, the promise the initial issue shows is buried underneath uneven art and poor writing.

The first order of business is the characters, but unfortunately they're all too often reduced to exaggerated caricatures of themselves. Rarity and Rainbow Dash get by the worst, but all the characters are written shallowly. This is a consequence of the writers' attempts to make jokes around the mane six's personalities, but all too often the result is annoyance as opposed to humour. At points, particularly near the end, the characterization comes close to striking the right balance, but it doesn't come to fruition in this issue.

Similarly, a lot of the jokes miss the mark. The comic's solid method of fitting neat pop culture references in the art is already in place, but the more in-focus gags are often more tiring or annoying than funny, partially due to the aforementioned mediocre characterization. However, there's also a major problem with the jokes themselves, as the punchlines are usually weak and forced. There are a few solid gags, but most don't work, and because the issue's mostly just setup and silly jokes, it makes the comic kinda boring.

Another problem is with the pacing. It improves over the course of the issue, but some parts are rushed, especially near the start. Not enough panels are included to set a good rhythm or even a solid atmosphere until close to the end. In one moment, right when the mane six have taken shelter, Twilight immediately figures out what's going on, making the tenuous connection between people acting weird and changeling impersonators. She's right, but it might have been neat to give her a little more time to figure that out. It improves when the plot finally kicks into high gear, but for too much of the issue it's hard to get into the book due to the pacing issues.

Finally, the distinctive art style has its solid origins here, but there's a lot of things here that look really ugly. Andy Price has a sort of crude style that seems better fit to comics with much weirder, cruder, perhaps more disturbing humour, and while he improves in later issues, this first issue has a severe stylistic clash with the designs taken from the show. The circles are often a bit weird, and that's merely the tip of the iceberg. There's points of this comic where I had to pause for a moment to comprehend how bad the art had gotten. What makes this worse is that there are also parts where the comic looks absolutely great, and the colours are all solid. It's not a wholly ugly comic, just an occasionally ugly one.

So that's the first of the Friendship is Magic comics. Far from the strongest part of the series, but at least it lays down the foundation for better comics later on.

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