Katie Cook and Andy Price are a great team for this book, as their affection and enthusiasm for the characters and world of “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” is evident (and rather contagious). Unfortunately, the close of this epic quest has a little too much story and a few too many characters to feel as fulfilling as it should.
Cook has bitten off slightly more than she can chew with this story and it would benefit from a few less characters, a bit less plot or perhaps a few more pages to give it (and artist Andy Price) the room it needs to breathe. As is, it feels a bit rushed and busy, despite all the fun. There’s a cute two-page “interlude” at the back, written and drawn by Cook, but given the packed primary story, the issue would have benefited more if it had allowed those two pages to be absorbed into the central story.
There are fantastic moments in this issue, like a page in which the ponies each open doors in the castle to find funny/scary surprises. Their reactions are priceless. Cook knows her ponies well and it’s evident in how well she writes for each. The adorable jokes she gives them are fantastic, from Pinkie Pie’s costume madness to Rainbow Dash’s sarcasm and competitiveness. The ending is a bit heavy handed in Twilight Sparkle being “the best pony eva!” but that’s accurate to the show (which is silly because we all know Rainbow Dash is the best pony ever — geez). The lessons about friendship, love and never giving up, are all lovely and feel right on target to what the show is all about.
Price’s ponies are adorable and expressive. All the ponies have their own easily distinguishable personalities and pitch perfect acting, whether subtle or extreme. The art simply suffers a little because there is so much story per page and too many ponies involved. Though Price tries his best to keep things clean and simple, there’s just a lot going on in every panel and the results are overcrowded pages that lack some of the simplicity and charm that makes the show so great. On a second and third read, more and more awesome details emerge, little things that are easily missed a first time around because everything is so busy. The character design for Queen Chrysalis and her minions is expectantly delicious, though some of her castle and the green “cocoons” could use some clarity.
Though surely to be a delight for kids with its bright visuals, expressive personality-driven ponies, charming story of friendship and goodness, it doesn’t have the additional layers needed to make it a great read for adults as well. It’s fun, but a bit shallow, and ultimately (like the show) it’s capable of more. More jokes and more layers. However, the book is just getting started and there’s plenty of time for Cook and Price to find that sweet spot of just enough story to make sure that the visuals don’t get lost in too much story.