My Little Pony/Transformers | Review
My Little Pony/Transformers: Friendship in Disguise
Writers: James Asmus, Ian Flynn and Sam Maggs
Artists: Casey W. Coller, Tony Fleecs, Jack Lawrence and others
IDW Publishing; $15.99
Tom Scioli ended his 2014-2016 Transformers Vs. G.I. Joe series with the villain Megatron being cast out of the universe, ending up stranded in a meadow where his prone form was investigated by some plump, colorful ponies. The gag worked because My Little Pony, like Transformers and G.I. Joe, was a long-lived multi-media franchise based on a toy line but seemed as far from the other two as could be. And the gag was possible because Hasbro owned the My Little Pony brand, just as it did Transformers and G.I. Joe.
Last year’s My Little Pony/Transformers: Friendship in Disguise, newly collected and released in trade paperback form, was essentially a miniseries-length riff on Scioli’s joke, mashing up the unlikely Hasbro brands in a single narrative that should shock fans of either by its very existence. Writers James Asmus, Ian Flynn, and Sam Maggs don’t treat the crossover as a joke, although the humorous tension of the juxtaposition hums throughout. Rather they take their comedic comic seriously, or at least sincerely, presenting a story that stays true to both franchises and their characters and thus works as both a My Little Pony story and a Transformers story (although, if cornered, I would say it’s more of a My Little Pony comic guest-starring the Transformers than it is the opposite).
The comic unfolds in eight 10-page vignettes. Asmus and artist Tony Fleecs present bookend-ing chapters that set up and resolve the crossover. On the ponies’ world of Equestria, the evil changeling Queen Chrysalis uses her magical powers to summon “fellow changelings from other worlds!” Meanwhile, on the Transformers’ world of Cybertron, the eternally warring Autobots and Deceptictons are at it again, this time near a space bridge capable of breaching other dimensions. The result? A bunch of Transformers are pulled into and scattered all across Equestria.
This leads to six different vignettes, pairing one of the main characters from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic with various “G1”-era Transformers (pluse a few IDW additions, like Windblode) in what are basically standalone stories. Applejack defends her orchards from the voracious Insecticons, little dragon Spike teams-up with big Dinobot Grimlock, the evil Soundwave reluctantly bonds with Fluttershy over their love of their “pets” and so on.
These stories are all done by different creative teams, with Asmus penning some and writers Sam Maggs and Ian Flynn others. Artists Casey W. Coller, Jack Lawrence, Sara Pitre-Durocher, and Priscilla Tramontano all contribute to the art. Despite the presence of five different artists, the style is remarkably consistent from story to story, likely due to the simplistic character designs of this generation of ponies and the simplified version of the Transformers characters that all of the artists stick to.
The format serves the material well, allowing for the sort of big good-versus-evil showdown expected from a Transformers story in the bookending bits, while also allowing for plenty of light-hearted, character-driven comedy involving the robots and ponies (and dragon) in the vignettes.
Fans of either franchise should be satisfied with Friendship in Disguise, which is, of course, the mark of a successful crossover. IDW must have realized they really had something here with this series, as the ending all but promises a sequel, with the Decepticons plotting a way to bring the ponies to Cybertron in the final panel of the comic.
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About J. Caleb Mozzocco
J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.
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