MLP:CR – The Return of Queen Chrysalis

(Sorry for the delay, I was hoping to get some stuff up while on vacation but the internet wasn’t great.)

Well Netflix seems to be having some problems, so why not take this opportunity to review the MLP comic!  Or at least the main “proper” line as there is also a “side” run of issues where each main character gets a turn in the spotlight (so far).  Now that I’ve concluded season 2, I can begin reading these comics as the first arc (taking place from issues 1-4) involves… well you’ve seen the title to this post.

So after an entertaining turn as the villain to close out season 2, the evil queen Chrysalis returns!  Well… she’s not so much evil as just undersocialized.  One thing I will give the comic credit for is that it does try and play with the implication of changelings in the MLP:FiM universe.  One thing I will count against the comic is that this implication lasts for all of 9 pages.  Out of a 22 page comic.  Less than half of the first issue.  Why bother with the “pod people” paranoia trope if you’re going to have the main characters figure it out right away?  Are we that adverse to putting kids on edge that we can’t even let them worry for a whole issue?

Other than that, most of the arc is pretty enjoyable with the Cutie-Mark Crusaders’ routine with Chrysalis being the best parts.  The queen is given far more character in this series than in the show and draws a few laughs now and then.  While Discord, like the Joker, was humorous and silly to heighten his menace, Chrysalis’ humor and silliness serves to help us relate to her more.  By the end, you don’t exactly want her to pull a Luna and join the cast, but to become the enjoyable, bumbling villain that messes with the heroes from time to time.

Now how well does the show translate to comic format?  Well the “series of freeze frames” does suit the show’s tendency to smuggle in as many subtle jokes and references in the background.  It’s hard to rush through this story when you’re combing through every panel to make sure you get as many hidden gems as possible.  However…
Ok, you know how when you’re young, the icing on cake is your favorite part, and you’re always wanting to get the corner slice with as much icing as possible because it’s just so good?  Then you finally get to down icing straight or just scrape it off and eat it.  Most often you end up sick and so disgusted by icing, you refuse to eat it ever again.  Many things in life work best as… enhancers of experience (spices, drum solos, guest stars, etc), but are very poor as a “main course”.  Often they are more disgusting than the object of their aid by itself.
In MLP:FiM, one of the things that makes it work is the extreme reactions of the characters, not unlike the Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans.  A great example is Twilight Sparkle losing her mind in “Lesson Zero“.  The biggest problem with the comic up to this point is that due to its nature of static panels, all we get are these extreme reaction shots.  The “ordinary moments” of things as simple as walking and talking are lost between the panels.  Like eating nothing but icing, after awhile the effect dulls and you begin to hate it.  I’m not necessarily arguing for total decompression of the comic (one thing I have to admit is that these issues move) but the readers need moments to breathe here and there.

All in all, I give this first arc:

out of 5.  It was going to be 2, but there is an awesome Derpy Hooves moment in issue one that nets them a +1 bonus.

Other positives: the comic pages are all together with advertisements grouped at the front and back of the book so there’s no interruption.  Yeah this seems to make the comic more expensive as the issues are $3.99 each, but with that and the quality of the paper stock, it does feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.  But the trade paperback is also coming out soon so fans can also wait for that to arrive.

And for those curious, I ended up with covers A, B, B, and A.

You can pick up a trade paperback of this arc, here:

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