Jeremy Whitley has written a lot of MLP, but he has done other work, including Ehmm Theory, Skyward, Ghost Town, Princeless, Order of Dragonet, The Final Plague, Night of the 80’s Undead, The Unstoppable Wasp, Jack Hammer, X-Men, SpiderMan, Runaways, Avengers, Molly Danger, and more. He even wrote a couple of issues of Zombie Tramp.
Brenda Hickey illustrated a lot of different MLP comics, including Friendship is Magic, Fiendship is Magic, Holiday Special, Friends Forever, Pony Tales, and the Micro Series. They both worked on issue #1 of the Fiendship is Magic miniseries (Sombra Rex), which was a particularly awesome issue.
This series starts from an interesting conceit – a hidden and unexplored collection of books belonging to Starswirl the Bearded, a Gandalf-like pony – the one who taught Celestia and Luna magic.
In this first issue, readers are introduced to Sunburst, a wizard in his own right and an advisor to the Princess, who is entrusted by Princess Celestia with the important task of reviewing the contents of reviewing the materials in her former mentor’s study. He had many texts and notes that did not “belong” in the royal library.
Sunburst finds a section marked “Legends of Magic,” apparently written by Starswirl himself, each volume recounting his research into “Myths and legends…stories of ponies with exceptional power.”
The first story, “The Great Starswirl The Bearded, The Two Sisters, And The Magical Vortex,” is a story about the wizard when he was the magic teacher to young Princesses Celestia and Luna. There is a lot of foreshadowing here to events that would take place later, particularly with Princess Luna.
This is a well-crafted story, but there is a greater mystery – where is the great wizard? Earlier, in the frame narrative, Princess Celestia refers to the fact that she herself is unsure of the fate of the powerful elder wizard.
The use of a framing narrative gives the authors a great flexibility. As Sunburst and others research the contents of the study, each story can either stand independently, or it can also serve to advance the narrative of locating the missing wizard.
Whitley does a fine job setting up both the frame narrative and the included narrative. It’s a strong story that simultaneously illuminates well known characters and introduces new characters.
Hickey’s artwork is outstanding. In an issue that recalls/foreshadows Princess Luna’s darker moments, she manages to capture the darker dimension. She creates Starswirl as a visually unique character; he is equal parts Dumbledore, Merlin, Gandalf, and entirely himself as well.
This creative team has impressed in the past; it looks like they are ready to do so again.
Written by: Jeremy Whitley
Illustrated by: Barbara Hickey