My Little Pony: Legends of Magic Volume 1 Review

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My Little Pony has always been one of those franchises that most people judge instantly. It seems like a show for little kids with happy creatures that you can’t take seriously. It is a kids show, but one that’s well written and has a lot of quality episodes. As I’m about halfway through season 1, I can finally consider myself a part of the fandom. Now I’ve gotten to read another MLP comic and I’d certainly say that this is a good one although I definitely found myself missing the Main 6. There are 6 stories and each one is a self contained adventure although the series is hinting at some kind of plot getting ready to develop with the scholar who is reading the stories.

The first comic is a story about Princess Celestia and Luna from their Pony days. Celestia apparently was still a bully even back in her youth and picks on Luna a lot. She reminds Luna of her previous failures and points out that she will never be proficient in magic. Luna tries to show Celestia that she is wrong and opens up a portal, but it takes Luna away to a dangerous place. Celestia goes along with the Wizard to save her, but it’s a treacherous journey and her power alone may not be enough to win. It’s a pretty fun way to start the comic although it solidifies the fact that I will never become a Celestia fan. She’s just so mean throughout the comic to the extent where it’s hard to believe that she becomes one of the Princesses. It’s easy to see how Luna turned evil for a little while if she had to put up with this every day. I’ve always been a Luna fan so I’m glad she finally gets her due respect in the modern episodes. Her magic eventually did become more impressive than Celestia’s.

Our next story takes us to good ole Rockhoof, a legend among his people. He was a Pony who stood up for what’s right and defeated many powerful adversaries in his day. This story takes place after the legend most are familiar with and he is invited to join the army. He does, but gradually begins to put on a lot of weight as his fans take him to many dinners. He is then too weak to defend the kingdom from a powerful monster and begins to wonder if friendship isn’t magic. The other characters confirm this so he goes back to his rigorous training and makes it in time to stop the giant monster on his own. He finally realizes that hanging out with friends is all right, but at the end of the day you can only count on yourself. It’s a pretty reasonable story and while I would have liked a fight as opposed to words being enough to stop the monster, it’s a resolution that I can get behind. I’d like to see Rockhoof show up in the present at some point.

The next story was quite a bit weaker than the first two. There once lived an old nanny who liked to traverse the wilderness. One night, she noticed that a kingdom was being attacked by animals and no work was getting done. She decided to broker a treaty between the two which is fortunate since Luna had been sent out to deal with the threats. Not officially, but Luna noticed unlike all of the others and would have certainly beaten the animals on her own. Instead, friendship prevailed and Luna altered the Kingdom’s plans so that it wouldn’t interfere with the wildlife. Even back then Luna was a more benevolent ruler than Celestia. The story wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t quite as exciting or action packed as the first two. The old lady also didn’t make for as good a main character as the other ponies.

Following that adventure was the original Wonderbolts as they struggled against a Tornado. This tornado was going to rip through the lives of many griffins, but the Ponies were declined access across the border. The Griffins wanted to deal with the problem themselves so the Pony commander decides to let them all die. The other Wonderbolts can’t agree this and quit so they can help out without causing a big war between the two species. It’s a pretty noble gesture and I always knew the ponies had it in them. The commander looks pretty bad, but don’t they always? It’s a good adventure even if it’s not the most interesting one. Again, it’s a comic without any of the old characters so you do miss them quite a bit. Rockhoof’s story pulled it off, but it is a difficult thing to do for sure.

On the next adventure we meet our first Egyptian pony. She was known as one of the wisest ponies in all of Equestria and she solved all of her problems without the need for violence. A pretty impressive feat when you consider how unruly and dangerous most of Equestria was. One day her kingdom was being attacked by a large snake so she decides to deal with the issue. She’s a pretty great main character and a step up over the last two stories. She may even be the best main character in the book. It’s a fun enough story and who doesn’t like seeing a giant monster show up? This is one character who would definitely fit right in with the Main 6 if she ever met them. A pacifist is always welcome in Ponyville and especially one with Twilight Sparkle’s intelligence.

Finally, the last story was about a bunch of Pony zombies. This may seem a little out of place in the happy world of My Little Pony, but again, you can’t let looks deceive you. A wandering healer happened to be passing by and decides to cure the Ponies. Unfortunately they aren’t too grateful and make fun of her one liners. Ah well, everyone’s a critic these days. The hero didn’t have a whole lot of personality this time around, but she seemed nice enough. Someone you would want to have in your corner at any rate.

So this was a good batch of My Little Pony stories. It’s always good to expand the universe so having a whole comic series dedicated to this is pretty clever. That being said, the main plot could easily overshadow the stories if the series isn’t careful. It ends in a cliffhanger with the kid trying to find Twilight so that could be intense if it’s played straight. I don’t like that guy, but I guess he didn’t really do anything wrong in the comic so I have to cut him some slack.

As always the writing is solid. These stories could easily have been boring or simply bad if we had a bunch of crude humor and bad characters to bring the story down. Fortunately this wasn’t the case as everything was on point instead. The stories were able to develop naturally and at worst some parts would just be a little rushed since all of the stories had to end rather quickly. They never drag on though and most of the characters seemed pretty reasonable. If you’re going to make a trade paperback about new ponies, they’ve got to be good and the comics did good there.

Unfortunately, the art isn’t very good though. In fact it’s actually pretty bad at different points. It comes across like a cash in although I’m sure they put a lot of effort into the comics. The art just feels unfinished which is a little regrettable. It’s still clear though and you always know what is happening so it’s far from the worst case scenario. It’s nothing that would seriously hurt the score or anything like that. Hopefully it does improve as the series goes on the artist gets more used to the characters.

Overall, I’d recommend checking out this graphic novel. It may not have the Main 6 and can feel like filler at times, but the stories are good. It’s a pleasant enough read and you’ll find yourself blasting through the pages. I would even say that it does beat the main ongoing comic so that’s definitely pretty impressive for a spinoff. Hopefully the library gets more MLP adventures soon so I can check them out. In the meantime I can be satisfied knowing that I’ve learned more about the world and its history.

Overall 7/10

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Pokemon: Journey to the Orange Islands Review

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It’s time for another quick Pokemon chapter book. This one brings us back to the beginning of the Orange Island adventures. Ash may have conquered the Pokemon League or at least that’s what you’d assume from how he talks about it in this book, but there is a new challenge around the corner that he cannot resist. Before starting the tournament he runs into a Lapras who is in need or a rescue and a Professor who may be in over her head with research. Ash is ready to save them all, but can he also stop Team Rocket from kidnapping Pikachu?

It’s always nostalgic to take a look at the good ole days of Pokemon. The newer adventures are fun enough (Although Sun and Moon is a downgrade) but the classics are classic for a reason. It’s great to see Ash just show up and take down 3 bullies in a single blow. He didn’t have time for one liners or panic attacks, Ash just got the job done. That’s why he’s the hero of legends. Ash doesn’t play games when it comes to cleaning up shop and I wouldn’t expect him too. Ash is also pretty straight forward here as he openly cringes depending on the situation. I’m not kidding, on page 2 he cringed and that’s when I knew that I was in for quite the ride. It was a good way to start things off.

There are really two main adventures here although they continue into each other pretty seamlessly. The first adventure has the kids stop by Professor Ivy’s lab to pick up the GS ball. For some reason it is impervious to teleportation so they are supposed to bring it to Professor Oak. Brock decides to stay with Ivy so he can become an official Pokemon breeder. Ash and Misty are pretty okay with this and head off, but Team Rocket tricks them and they get launched pretty far away. That’s when Ash notices the bullies and takes them down. A kid named Tracy shows up to join the crew and Oak allows Ash to forget about the GS ball so he can just have fun entering the league. Oak’s a pretty nice guy. The adventure is On!

Naturally this was a pretty big moment in the anime since Brock had been around for so many episodes. That being said, he was always the worst of Ash’s friends as he never kept his head in the game and was always holding the team back. He may have been the team’s cook, but I couldn’t get around to missing him. His replacement wasn’t exactly a fan favorite though as Tracy can be extreme in his own way. He notices some kids bullying Lapras and decides not to do anything about it because he’s busy sketching. That’s very shady right off the bat and he basically forced his way into Ash’s inner circle. Ash was totally against having Tracy on board but the decision was taken out of his hands. It was all pretty sudden. Tracy will have some work to do to get past his initial appearance and since he isn’t much of a fighter, that’ll be tough. Misty doesn’t do much here, but I’m sure she’ll have more of a role in the next few volumes…possibly. Technically Ash’s Pikachu is really the only Pokemon to get a big role. Ash doesn’t even use his others. Jigglypuff looks pretty good as she shows up to take names. I really miss the days when she would come out of the blue and just start singing. That was a quality running gag.

One thing I have to wonder is if the author has to recap what everything is at the beginning of every book or just for each region. For example, we’re reminded what a Pokedex is and the author describes everything as if we’re seeing it for the first time. The book’s fairly short and even then these scenes are really quick, but it does seem like you’ll lose valuable page space this way. In the end, I have no real complaints with the pacing though. The book flies by and it’s an engaging read from cover to cover. If I had any small complaint, it would be that this book is light on action. Pikachu’s one hit win and Geodude’s one hit win were basically the only battles in the book. Props to Team Rocket for tricking the heroes the same way twice in a row. Since the book cuts out the filler it almost literally occurs back to back. At least Ash didn’t go down without yelling for his food first.

Overall, This was a good volume of Pokemon. It could get a little dark like with the Lapras chapter and it’s easy to forget that the stakes used to be so high. Even Ivy almost died because of Pokemon spores gone wild. I have a feeling they’ve been nerfed to just knock you out in newer episodes. That being said, Ash is even more intense than usual in this volume and it’s just nice to have the old gang back. The show really had a lot of depth and emotion at this point. I still prefer almost all of the other regions to Orange Islands, but I like to just think of them as the lost episodes of Kanto. Think of it like an epilogue story and it works a whole lot better. No Gary this time, but he’ll return soon enough. If you haven’t read the book yet, now’s a good time to do so. It’s a pretty nice way to read through two episodes and it covers all of the important parts so it’s a quicker way of getting caught up with the anime.

Overall 7/10