It's been a little minute since we've seen ponies on The Vine, so here's a quick recap: our pony pals have been plagued by nightmares, Rarity has vanished, and there's a new Nightmare Moon in town, threatening all of Ponyville. The new scary mare? Not Luna, but Rarity!
Heather Nuhfer sets up a clever villain with the new Nightmare Moon; not only is she a fearsome foe, but there's also some foreshadowing to a lesson about self-esteem. She's also set up a clever problem -- the Elements of Harmony can't possibly work if one is missing, and the ponies are trapped (and out of ideas). It's a straightforward story that anypony (of any age) can follow, and it asks a very important question -- what if the magic of friendship isn't that powerful?
Amy Mebberson's art is delightful. Not only are her pencils consistent with the animated series, they also have an active quality to them that makes some of the panels look like they're freeze-frames from an animation, ready to move any second. Heather Breckel brings her A-game on colors, too, and the nightmarescape is deliciously dark for an all-ages book.
Collectors, variant-hunters, and bronies: have you SEEN the gorgeous covers for this issue? In addition to Mebberson's cover, there are alternates by Stephanie Buscema and Tony Fleecs and retailer exclusives by Agnes Garbowska. I know these are ponies and not Pokemon, but there are so many beautiful covers that I want to catch them all.
This isn't a great jumping-on point for readers new to Ponyville. The story takes place in the middle of an arc that started in Issue #5, but it's also hard to fit things into context if you haven't been on board with the series since the beginning (a MLP OG?). Readers will want to at least do some catching-up with the animated series (it's on Netflix!) so they can learn who Nightmare Moon is, why she's so scary, and how the ponies could ever stand a chance against her.
If you're a little girl, a brony, or a pony fan of any age, this is a solid issue that takes an exciting arc even further. If you haven't been playing along the whole time, it's a weird place to start.