The Legends of Magic focuses on the Pillars of Old Equestria, a group of six adventurers established in season 7 of MLP as the secret protectors of the world. The exploits of these heroes are recounted as legends in the titular legends of magic journals that give this series its name. The early issues focus on each hero refining their skills and learning a lesson in what makes a hero. The later issues explain how they all became united as told from the perspective of the person who would become their main antagonist.
MLP as a series is very experimental, trying many different ideas throughout its nine seasons. Some of them are successful: Discord’s redemption, Twilight's elevation to Princess of Friendship, and Spike's growth as a dragon. Some are less successful: Twilight's School and the Crystal Empire never really gripped me in the same way as the earlier seasons. The Pillars of Old Equestria in their television incarnation were interesting but never quite stood out against some of the show’s greatest moments.
In comic book form, however, the Pillars shine much brighter. Having been established in the show previously, the Legends of Magic stories give each member more time to interact and have personalities of their own. As mentioned before, the legends are also told predominantly from Stygian’s perspective. Stygian, a founding member of the Pillars who is abandoned by the group, serves as narrator as we see his descent from loyal friend to spurned enemy.
With Stygian as our guiding force, we learn about his friendship with each of the Pillars and grow to sympathize with his plight, making his eventual redemption in the show all the more satisfying. His perspective was sorely lacking from the show, and it’s good to see him take center stage here in the comics. The writing stands out for one simple reason: It makes the characters and their relationships the focal point. All of the members are unique and likable with distinct voices of their own. They don’t just all agree on every topic. They have varying opinions and ideals that cause them to butt heads. Even the jokes hit harder, because each character has their own sense of humor when making jokes.
The artwork is pretty standard for the My Little Pony comics. It differs slightly from the TV show, but not in a bad way. Facial expressions are the focus of the style, getting across a wide array of emotions with each frame. The panel layout is also nice and varied from page to page. One little complaint I have is with the action scenes; they’re just a little too fast in this style. A lot of the action is executed in the fewest number of panels possible which makes it feel choppy. It can be hard to tell how someone ended up in one location between panels. A few extra movement panels would have served the story well.
My Little Pony: Legends of Magic Omnibus, Volume 1 is exactly what the My Little Pony world needed to flesh out the Pillars of Old Equestria. These characters deserved more time and attention. Their backstories, designs, and personalities were unique and refreshing, but they were limited to roughly two appearances each before being regulated to background characters. It's nice to see them get their day in the sun in a supplemental story that feels as big and epic as these characters are meant to be.
My only word of caution to anyone considering this book for a relative or friend lies in the cast. The primary cast of MLP barely make appearances in this omnibus; it mostly focuses on secondary characters from the later seasons. If you have a young reader who wants to follow the main cast on their adventures, this book may frustrate them.
In spite of this, I still think Legends of Magic carries itself on its story and makes a fine addition to the MLP universe. Slightly older kids will relish the fantasy elements of the book and the way it gives more context for these previously minor characters. If, like me, you've been missing My Little Pony, I'd recommend picking up this series to tide you over. Volume 2 is on the horizon, and I, for one, am excited to see where the story leads.
Creative Team: Jeremy Whitley (Writer), Brenda Hickey (Artist), Tony Fleecs (Artist), Heather Breckel (Colorist), Neil Uyetake (Letterer)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
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