A strange little event is occurring over in the house of IDW as they are taking a month off to produce a weekly My Little Pony mini-series designed to focus on the franchise’s villains dubbed My Little Pony: Fiendship is Magic. In quite a pleasant surprise, the series does not go to the obvious foes such as Nightmare Moon, Discord, and Queen Chrysalis as this first issue focuses on King Sombra. Sombra is an odd choice to say the least. His debut was the subject of much hype given his intimidating design but quick backlash when Sombra actually spent most of his time being a spooky cloud of shadow in the background with little to no dialogue. He’s the perfect choice for a book like this as he’s little more than a blank slate for anyone to write upon. Though this issue does face trouble when trying to shed new light on this under developed character, it’s an interesting experience nonetheless.
Fiendship is Magic #1 is an origin story, set centuries before the events of My Little Pony in the far off Crystal Empire, a location created to justify selling shiny variant pony figurines. Sombra is an unsuspecting filly, found in the wilderness and robbed of his memories who is taken in by a local orphanage. There he’s ostracized by his fellow fillies until he finds friendship in fellow outsider Radiant Hope. All seems well until Sombra learns of the great evil that lies dormant in his being and that he may be made of some dark magic. All comes ahead in a shockingly dark resolution. If there’s one way that this story suffers, it’s the predictable nature. It becomes difficult to come attached to Sombra, knowing just what he’s to become. This is similar to many origin stories where the reader must acknowledge that everything is doomed to take a turn for the worse. That being said, this is an interesting take on this type of origin story. Most narratives like this tend to focus on the perspective of the to-be hero rather than villain and it unfold from Sombra’s perspective is a novel approach and it does go into some stuff that would border on child unfriendly. That doesn’t make up for the lax characterization of Radiant Heart and other side characters and that Sombra himself isn’t terribly compelling which makes his turn to the dark side less of a tragic twist of fate and more just what one would expect.
Brenda Hickey pencils and inks this issue. She’s one of the many talented artist working on this series though she’s been mostly held back for back up adventures and the spin off Micro-Series books. She has a very pleasant style that closely mirrors that of Lauren Faust’s original character designs, going back between simple and laid back to kinetic and powerful when the series drama hits. She rings a lot of personality out of her character, especially with her eyes.
My Little Pony: Fiendship is Magic #1 is an odd book. It attempts to explain the backstory of one of the franchise’s lacking villains and attempts to flesh him out. It does little to change what Sombra is and how the relates to the heroes. The book comes a bit thin for a full priced book and is suggested only for the most obsessive of My Little Pony fans.