• Member Since 17th Dec, 2011
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I'm just here to write.

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Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone! I hope you're all having a good time. Now, I don't remember if it's normal for me to do blogs like these on holidays, due to years of alcohol and head trauma turning my brain into a swirly paste-like substance, but if it is, then this isn't like a normal one of those! No, this year, I'm gracing you with content!

But not a new story, even if I am still working on chapters of The Winter and several other of my published works right now. Instead, I thought I'd bring you a review of an entirely separate tale of winter-themed misery. Because Lord knows, I can't have you people getting too happy at this time of year. That would be disastrous.

And besides, this one is something truly abysmal, and I want to make sure that nobody else makes the mistake of spending money on it. Think of this as a combo review/comedy/public service announcement.

Warning: coarse language, spoilers for a shit comic, and lots of angry, unfestive Danny follows.

Part 1: What is this abomination?

IDW produces a series of comics based on MLP. As well as their main series and the Friends Forever spin-off, they've also done a few feature length oneshot books. To be precise, they've done three of them. Two annuals in 2013 and 2014, and this book I'll be reviewing today.

Now, the two ongoing series of pony comics tend to only actually deal with ponies, as you'd expect. However, Equestria Girls is a part of the franchise too, and whether it's orders from Hasbro, or the writers at IDW took the initiative themselves, someone at some point decided that it needed comic representation. As such, these feature-length oneshots are usually used to tell stories about the world and characters of Equestria Girls.

The 2013 annual had two stories which served as prequels to the first movie. The 2014 annual was largely devoted to the Power Ponies, but had a backup story about the Mane-iac going to the the human world and meeting her other self. And then we got this story, which is a Christmas special, because the main series is in the middle of an Applejack western arc right now and can't make time for a Christmas special. This one is actually set after the events of Rainbow Rocks, so you can think of it as a kind of sequel to the movie.

That will be the source of quite a few of the book's major failings, as you'll come to see.

Part 2: Ted Anderson is a horrible writer and I don't know why he still gets work.

With the exception of The Fall of Sunset Shimmer, one of the stories from the first annual, Ted Anderson has been the writer for all the Equestria Girls stories in the comics so far, including this one. He's also a talentless hack, and this happens to be his worst story yet.

Now, Ted Anderson is an awful human being for reasons unrelated to this shambles, but until now, I've at least seen the value in him, as I have enjoyed some of his previous work.

Pictured: Ted Anderson showing his support for Dragondicks, a Tumblr SJW famous for her "kill all bronies" rhetoric.

Okay, yes, the Dash and Spitfire issue of Friends Forever was garbage, but that mostly because of the artwork, and the Celestia and Spike issue was actually alright. The Pinkie and CMC micros may have been forgettable, but I thought that Anderson's Manehattan Mysteries arc in the main series was at least competently put together, even if I did find it kind of boring. And the 2014 annual was genuinely good, in spite of the infamous Dragondicks OC cameo that kicked off all the drama about Ted. I liked the 2013 annual too, but the only good part of that one was The Fall of Sunset Shimmer, which was Cook/Price, so he doesn't get credit there.

All things considered, I have no idea how Mr. Anderson was able to fuck up this badly when he was previously able to at least skirt mediocrity. This book has the same editor as all of Ted's better work, and I didn't notice any co-writer credits on any of those stories that are absent here. The only sensible conclusion I can draw is that Ted Anderson must hate Christmas.

Yeah, I think that's it.

Part 3: A Christmas story with no Christmas

The plot of the comic is that Sunset Shimmer is invited around to her friends' for Hearth's Warming or Christmas or whatever holiday this is meant to be, and being friends, they share some secrets with her. These secrets start appearing online shortly afterwards, embarrassing the girls, and Sunset is thought to be responsible. She is ostracised and left to wallow in misery, while whoever was responsible for leaking the girls' secrets continues to do so, only now targeting everyone else in the school. Everyone thinks it's Sunset, and everyone hates her guts for it. Then at the end, it turns out that it was the CMC who did it, because they were jealous. They apologise, are instantly forgiven, and then the comic is over.

I am so fucking full of holiday cheer right now, you don't even know.

This is bullshit in a number of ways, but I want to untangle it one thread at a time, because the awfulness on display here is quite complex. So let's begin with the question of what this is about.

What is this story meant to be about? Because I can certainly tell you what it's not about. It's not about the holidays. It's set around Christmas, or Hearth's Warming, or whatever the fuck (I'm just going to call it Christmas from now on for simplicity's sake), but nothing is really done with it. Kind of like how Die Hard was set at Christmas but was about John McClane kicking ass, this story was set at Christmas but was actually about goddamn cyberbullying of all things.

There are some platitudes about family around the place. The beginning of the comic, for instance, has Sunset talk about how she was never with her family at this time of year, which is why she is initially invited to the slumber party, and from then on she starts referring to the girls as her family. And at the end, the reason the CMC are so quickly forgiven is because they are family. The final line by Rarity also mentions the importance of family again, leaving us on a shot of her and the girls hanging out at Sweet Apple Acres, or whatever it's called in this world.

But again, nothing is done with it. The comic doesn't explore family bonds, or what families do for each other, or the joys of being with family in the holidays. It's just something it occasionally brings up to tangentially tie into the Christmas theme. And even that it does a really poor job with. Aside from that conversation at the beginning, I don't think the holiday itself ever comes up again. It's not even mentioned by name, hence my confusion as to whether it's still called Hearth's Warming in this world or not. Sunset's dialogue implies it's not the same holiday, but even then, I can't be sure.

So if it's about cyberbullying, how does it handle that topic?

How do you think?

Another reviewer I saw called this "a story which Equestria Girls is uniquely suited to tell." With all due respect, that's a load of crap, and I'll explain why later. But for now, I just want you to think about the fact that the very themes which this story purports to explore on its front cover are utterly void in this book.

You're being scammed, people! It's time to wake up!

Part 4: Let's go through this in order, shall we?

So if we want to break down exactly what makes this comic so shitty, I think it's best to start at the beginning and go through it page by page, so I can highlight all the details, big and small.

Now, the early pages are probably the best it ever gets. In fact, I'll call the first two pages the story's peak. Because at this point we've not been going long enough for there to be plotholes, and everyone seems in-character so far. We've got Sunset and Applejack interacting, two characters who never got a scene together on their own in either movie, and their dynamic is at once both interesting and cute, even ending with a hug on the third page as Sunset asserts that the girls are who she considers her family now. It's a genuinely touching scene.

It's also the only point in the book where Christmas is acknowledged, so that's also a plus.

And then there's this shit.

But right away, we start to get into the first of my problems with the book. And this one is a really minor bit of nitpicking, but I've got to comment on it anyway. What the hell is with Pinkie's profile here? Why is it sideways? Why is she friends with Babs and Sunflower when they were villains in the 2013 annual? Why can we only see the icons of characters we know when she has over 72K friends? If she has over 72K friends, why is the only post on the page not by her over two days old, and why does she have only eleven likes on the other post? Shouldn't she be flooded with loads of posts and comments and crap with that large a friends list? I admit, I've never used MySpace or Facebook before, but that is how this works, isn't it? I'm confused.

Also, the idea of Rarity misspelling "darling" and using heart emoticons is admittedly kind of funny, but I'm also having trouble ever picturing Rarity doing that. But this is far from the most OOC moment in the book, so I'm going to ignore that and move on now.

Part 5: Now let's take a moment to talk about art.

I feel this next page is a good point to stop and discuss the artwork for a bit, because there's problems here, too.

Tony Fleecs is the artist for this book, and honestly, he's not the worst. There've been a lot of artists working on the MLP comics over the few years they've been around, and I've seen some truly terrible ones. Jay Fosgitt, Carla Speed McNeil and Thomas Zhaler, just to name a few, all had styles that were often overly simplistic and dull, or else were too stylised and weird-looking to fit with the general aesthetic of the books.

Fleecs doesn't have that problem. His work has mostly been in the Friends Forever series, and there, I've generally found his art to be a good fit. I'm not going to pretend to be an art expert, and I'll admit I have trouble talking about it in technical terms, but to me, his work often seems most evocative of Price's comics, with lots of very expressive faces. And he draws a good Discord, too.

My main problem with his style is that those expressive faces that look so fitting with ponies don't translate well to the humanised art style. Here, they more often look just plain goofy and weird.

What's wrong with your faaaaaaaaaaace?

Another thing about this style is that while Andy Price lavishes his backgrounds with detail, Fleecs puts in less detail the further away from the focus a character is, which can look kind of weird. For comparison, let's look at two crowd scenes.

Exhibit A: Price's Luna micro

Now, quite aside from the fact that there are so many cameos and references in this picture, I want you to take notice of all the background ponies. Specifically, their eyes. Look at how many of them all have actual drawn eyes. Yes, there are some with closed eyes too, but not that many. And the ones with just dots for eyes are exceptionally rare. I count maybe three of them in this entire two page spread, and this is cropped down. Also note how they all still look different, with different body types, angles, positions, etc.

Exhibit B: Fleecs's Friends Forever #9

In contrast, look at how Fleecs handles a scene of similar size, this time actually covering the whole two pages. Even right up close, all the ponies except the Apple family here have dots for eyes. All of them are blank flanks. And all of them (with rare exceptions) are the same size. The foals are all as tall as the adults! Twist looks bigger than Fluttershy from this perspective! And that's the difference here. Fleecs isn't terrible about it, but he does cut corners, and it is noticeable.

But this has got to be a fucking joke:


Are you kidding me with this? You can see by the text size, these are six-panel pages. These girls aren't meant to be far in the background, here! The size you're seeing these panels at are pretty much how big they are in the physical comic. And even up this close, Fleecs drew them all without noses and with little dots for eyes. It's even worse in that first panel! Rarity doesn't even have eyebrows! Fluttershy doesn't have a mouth! HOW DOES SHE EAT?!

As I'm writing this in Google docs, I realise that I've now filled eight pages ranting about this comic. But I'm really only just getting started.

Part 6: It's in the episode title, moron.

So then we have the slumber party scene. The girls, feeling sorry for Sunset Shimmer since she's not spent Christmas with her family in years, all invite her around for a slumber party. They get together, Rarity braids Sunset's hair (which is adorable), Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy (yes, Fluttershy) play video games, and it's all pretty much like it was in Rainbow Rocks, right down to the Maud cameo, when she comes in to deliver pizzas and—



You fucking what?

Okay, yes, this is a single spelling mistake, but it fucking deserves its own section. Why? Because there is no excuse for messing up Maud's name! It's in the title of her introductory episode! In fact, it IS the title of her introductory episode! Maud Pie! With no E! You don't even have to watch the show to get that bit right! You just gotta look at a list of episodes!

Christ on the cross. What page am I on? How many have I got left?

12 of 48. Including the A and B covers and the fucking credits page.

Part 7: What the fuck kind of sense does this make?

Anyway, the slumber party continues. Rarity paints Applejack's nails, Fluttershy brushes Rainbow's hair... You know, this is all starting to sound a little off to me. Remember Look Before You Sleep, and how AJ in that was completely averse to Rarity doing any of this cosmetic stuff to her? Or how Dash in Ponyville Confidential couldn't stay in a spa more than five minutes? You can't even say it's character development from those episodes, because these are different characters, and younger ones, at that. Even in Rainbow Rocks, AJ and Dash were playing video games with each other rather than taking part in any of this girly stuff.

Ah, whatever.

So then they're interrupted by a call from Apple Bloom, who's calling at the behest of Granny Smith to make sure they're all doing alright, and her sister replies in the affirmative. For no particular reason, Apple Bloom closes the call by calling her sister by an embarrassing childhood nickname, forcing AJ to explain to her friends the story behind it. Something to do with her playing in a pigpen when she was little and Granny Smith finding it funny.

Apple Bloom is pissed, if it wasn't clear already, but exactly why she's so unhappy isn't explained to the reader right away. Applejack says that Bloom brings up the nickname whenever she feels that AJ's getting "too big for her britches", but as we'll later learn, the real reason is that Apple Bloom is jealous that her sister is spending time with her friends instead of with the family that night. Because Apple Bloom in this universe is kind of a possessive bitch.

But I'll get into that later, because I still haven't discussed the biggest problem with this scene: The fact that Sunset treats this slumber party like it's her first.

Is this what you do at slumber parties? I ain't never been to one before, lol

Those of you who've actually read the comic thought I was was gonna skip this, didn't you? Well, no. I'm not letting this one get away. So let's go back to the same page as the Maud Incident (boy oh boy, I had no idea that one page could contain this much stupid), and talk about the fact that Sunset's acting like she's new to this when she WENT TO A SLUMBER PARTY IN THE FUCKING MOVIE!

This isn't the worst thing in the comic (it's not even the worst plot hole), but it is the most baffling. I have no idea how Anderson managed to forget that Sunset's been to a slumber party before when he's ripping off that exact scene. And yes, before anyone argues that I'm just reading it wrong, Sunset does later confirm after a later, second slumber party that this one was her first.

The worst part is that this wouldn't even be an issue if this were only set before the second movie, but Sunset spends entire pages of the comic writing letters to Twilight Sparkle in her castle, so what the fuck?

Part 8: Anonymous: Final Boss of the Internet

The next day, Applejack is called out in the hallways by her embarrassing childhood nickname, which according to her, nobody but her family and the girls should know. Apple Bloom then comes bounding up with her phone, telling AJ the terrible news that somebody called Anon-a-Miss revealed her secret online for all the school to see.

Wait, what? Granny Smith has a MyStable account? Applejack uses "lol"? Whaaaaaaat?

Can I just take a moment to point out that Anon-a-Miss's post is appearing on Applejack's page, which we're seeing on Apple Bloom's phone? Does this make any sense? Forgive my ignorance, but don't you need to be friends with someone for your posts to appear on their page? Or don't they need to be following you? Or something? Apple Bloom says that she's posted this on everyone's pages, but the number of comments and likes suggests that this isn't something she just spammed everyone with, but a single post on her page that she somehow got to appear everywhere. Unless Silver Spoon and Hoops also follow Applejack? Does that make any sense?

Bleh. Anyway, if you've been paying attention, you know that Apple Bloom is the one behind Anon-a-Miss, and when she later has a talk with Applejack and asks about who else she told the story, you'll be able to recognise what this is. It's a frame job. She's straight-up trying to frame Sunset for spreading rumours about her sister, hence the use of Sunset's colours in Anon-a-Miss's picture. She's basically stabbed her sister in the back and then lied to her face.

Apple Bloom's bitchy behaviour aside, AJ resolves to shrug off the taunting and get on with it, which is the sensible and level-headed approach, exactly what I'd expect from Applejack. But she is upset with Apple Bloom's implication that Sunset could be behind Anon-a-Miss, trusting her friend completely. Enjoy this while it lasts, because it will become horrible later.

Part 9: I want to die.

So after Anderson botches a Mean Girls reference, the girls go off to a second slumber party, as it was mentioned earlier in the issue that they would all host a slumber party one night each before all going to Sweet Apple Acres for the holiday break. This time it's Rarity's turn to host, and we get a brief appearance by Sweetie Belle before she's ushered out. Sweetie's also in on the scheme, by the way, or at least she is after this. And so the party goes on.

She says while pulling out her magical vibrating book of instant interdimensional communication.

Pinkie, Rainbow and Fluttershy then begin singing into their hairbrushes, which is pretty weird in itself, given Fluttershy's supposed phobia of singing even just in front of her friends. I know that was kind of a plot hole of its own in Filli Vanilli, but are we just not going to acknowledge that? Some of the girls were already sitting this one out, so you could've easily had Fluttershy be the one sitting on the side and have Rarity singing instead, couldn't you? Right?

I dunno. Maybe Fluttershy doesn't have that fear in this universe. Whatever.

Also, weirdly enough, they're singing "Helping Twilight Win the Crown." We only see them sing the first few lines in the comic, but when they reach the chorus, that's gotta be weird, considering that Twilight's not around and that Sunset's right there recording them on her phone. We do remember what context this song was first sung in, right? Ousting Sunset from her position as supreme prom queen alpha bitch? Hello? Is this thing on? Is this working?

Why aren't they singing one of their own songs? They're a band, aren't they? The Rainbooms? This is after the second movie, isn't it?

When did the fall formal take place, anyway? Was that at the start of the year? The end of their last one? I assumed that they were all seniors in the first movie, and that what we were seeing was some kind of end of year prom. But in Rainbow Rocks, they were still at school, and it didn't look much like fall, plus the events of the first movie were implied to be recent. What's the timeline here? What's going on?

Why is Sunset wearing eighties pants on this page? Does Rainbow Dash have rainbow-themed pyjamas? Do all her clothes have a rainbow motif? Do they all have her cutie mark on them? Why do none of the rest of the girls have their cutie marks on their pyjamas? Where do those cutie marks on their clothes even come from in this world if they don't show up on their bodies by magic? Are they like family crests in this world? Are kids considered to have came of age when they invent a symbol to represent themselves and personally stitch it into all their clothes?

I need to stop for a minute. My brain is full of Equestria Girls.

Life is pain.

Part 10: Are these changelings, or just amnesiacs?

So they sing, and Sunset records it. Then they find some of Rarity's reject outfits that she donates to charity, and play dress-up, and Sunset takes pictures. Then she writes another letter to Twilight, just like she did after the first slumber party. And then she goes in the next day, only to find that Anon-a-Miss has been spreading around the pictures and videos online, just like how Applejack's story was spread around.

Why is Sunset friends with Anon-a-Miss? Come to that, why is Ms. Harshwhinny? She's school staff in this universe! It's amazing that there's not a single one of these MyStable pages that I cannot bitch about.

If this seems boring and repetitive to you, that's only because it is. But not to worry, because Anderson's going to shake up the formula in just a moment.

But first, I'd like to make an aside to question the logic of embarrassing the girls in this fashion. Applejack's pig story, I get. But why would the school laugh at them over their singing and silly costumes? Isn't that what the whole Equestria Girls franchise is built on? They sung the exact same song in the middle of the cafeteria while dressed in fake pony ears and tails in the first movie, and these guys ate it up back then! What's different here? Why are they suddenly acting like real high schoolers now?

But anyway, because the videos were all from Sunset's phone, the girls ask her if she's lost it recently. When she says she still has it, they assume that it must've been her behind Anon-a-Miss, they all feel betrayed, and Applejack's face contorts with rage.

Separated at birth?

Now, given the evidence, that's a reasonable assumption to make. What's not reasonable is that after this, not a single one of them gives her the benefit of the doubt.

I'm not kidding. Not even Pinkie and Fluttershy show her any trust. In fact, Pinkie and Fluttershy are the harshest ones! Pinkie outright says that Sunset was faking being their friend the whole time just so that she could humiliate them like this, while Flutters just comes out and says that none of them are Sunset's friends anymore. I mean damn. That's fucking cold. And Sunset's there the whole time, protesting their accusations, insisting she's innocent, crying in full public view, but they don't care. None of them do. And in the end, they leave her a sobbing wreck in the hallway.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

So, obvious question:


Who were those characters? Because that was NOT the main five. This is another reason why this shouldn't have been set after Rainbow Rocks. This kind of pitiless contempt that they're showing Sunset would always have been out of character (especially for Fluttershy, who was nicer than this to pre-reform Discord), but if this was prior to Rainbow Rocks and all they knew before was demon alpha-bitch Sunset, this would at least make a little more sense.

But this comic would have us believe that the spirits of friendship themselves wouldn't give the benefit of the doubt to a crying girl who helped them save the goddamn world in the last movie! I mean, Christ! That's what Sunset's whole arc in that was about, wasn't it? Her redemption in the eyes of the school? Earning back their trust? Demonstrating that she had changed? Hello? Have we forgotten all that? Does the fact that she wielded an Element of Harmony count for nothing?

We still have like twenty fucking pages left.

Part 11: Exposing thieves is bad if you do it anonymously.

So Anon-a-Miss keeps harassing the girls online for days. Sunset thinks for a page that she's worked out who it is and goes to accuse Trixie, but she denies being a part of it, and it never comes up again. Then we have a scene in the cafeteria where it's exposited that Anon-a-Miss has expanded her scope and is now going after anyone and everyone.

Anon-a-Miss told Diamond Tiara that her friend was stealing from her! What a bitch!

And this is really the point where I've got to stop and talk big picture again, because I've been ignoring this fuckery too long. What's the message here? What is Anderson trying to say with this comic? Cyberbullying is bad. Okay. That's clear enough. Anderson handles it with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, and it's well-trodden ground, but I have a hard time arguing with a sentiment like that. But then what's with all this about anonymity?

There's this undercurrent to the whole story that anonymity is an inherently bad thing, worse even than the bullying itself. "Gabby Gums" was a name that played on the gossip aspect of the CMC's articles when they did this in the episode Anderson is ripping off, but here, the wordplay is on the anonymous aspect. And as we'll later see at the end of the comic, the girls have no problem forgiving their sisters once they reveal their identities, shedding their anonymity, despite the fact that they did horrible, horrible things to all of them.

This page here is just another example of that. The comic treats it as a bad thing that Anon-a-Miss is going after other people now, and highlights this by using DT and Silver Spoon as examples. But Silver Spoon stole from Diamond Tiara. If Anon-a-Miss exposed her as a thief, why is this treated as a bad thing? Wouldn't you want to know if one of your friends was stealing from you? But no. In this case, it's bad that the Crusaders exposed a thief, because they did it anonymously. Or maybe it's bad because it's causing discord in the school. I don't know. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but that's very much the impression I get from this whole comic.

Pictured: righteous crusaders come to end the scourge of anonymity forever

There are some people in the fandom that thought that this comic was an attempt by Ted Anderson to make Anonymous (as in 4chan's Anonymous) be the villains of a story, as some kind of petty revenge after they called for him to be fired over the Dragondicks incident (and he should be fired, for the shittiness of this comic, if nothing else). But, respectfully, I don't think that's the case. These comics are written and locked in months in advance, so Teddy would've had to have finished this way before it came to light what a deplorable human being he really is. So it's not in response to the controversy.

But that doesn't mean it's not about internet anonymity in general, and so there I still call bullshit. I see anonymity demonised like this way too often. If you argue under your own username, you're defending your beliefs. Do the same thing while anon, and you're a coward or a troll or a bully, and it's okay to ignore your opinion. Yeah, some dickheads do use anon as a shield to get away with doing dickhead things, but that's no excuse to generalise. At the end of the day, I still don't know your real name, whether you choose to go by Anonymous or blackcocksinmyass69, so what does it matter? This is the internet. We're all just text on a screen here, so why don't we value each other's worth by our opinions, instead of our names or lack thereof?

...What was I talking about again?

Oh yeah. There's a shitty comic still here. Let's press on.

Part 12: Did you even WATCH the movies?

So then we get THIS fucking nonsense:

"Dear Princess Twilight. I'm homeless. Did I mention?"

Oh yeah. You're seeing that right. Sunset Shimmer lives in the motherfucking school library. You know. Like Twilight did in the first movie.


This is an exceptional level of stupid. In fact, I'm shocked by how much idiocy they managed to display in so short a space. I could spend fifty paragraphs talking about how dumb just these two panels are. But I'm going to try to do it in twelve.

First there's the factor of time. Sunset Shimmer disappeared from Equestria over a decade ago, since Twilight was seen in the background in The Fall of Sunset Shimmer, still just a filly at the time. Now, we know that the flow of time between the two worlds must be a little distorted if Twilight and Sunset can pass for the same age, but Sunset has still been in the human world for several years at least from her perspective. We don't know exactly how long, but she's implied to have been around for a while prior to the first movie.

And we're to believe that she's been homeless all that time? Really? She never scrounged up enough to rent her own place? She never got a job? She never mooched off Flash Sentry? She never robbed whatever charity shop Fluttershy works at for a quick buck? She never sold heroin or prostituted herself?

And believe me, Sunset could've made mad cash if she'd gone into prostitution.

Where does she keep her spare clothes? Where does she shower? How has she not been caught? If she lived at a homeless shelter or broke into abandoned buildings to sleep, that I could at least believe, but the library?

And that's the second point. Why the library? In the first movie I could believe it, because it was Twilight. "I have nowhere to sleep. Where do I go? Of course! The library!" It's just such a Twilight thing to do.

But thinking about it logically, the library isn't really the ideal location. That would be the staff room, where they keep all the big, comfy sofas, and you can make yourself a tea in their little kitchen. And don't give me that shit about them locking the staff room, because they'd lock the goddamn library too. Fuck you.

Again, though, that's just in the school itself. Thinking even more logically, you wouldn't want to sleep in a school to begin with, especially not long-term. You'd go to a homeless shelter, or move in with some other poor sap (like Flash Sentry), or you'd find an uninhabited building to squat in where you don't have to worry about leaving evidence of your presence, or getting caught early in the mornings, or running into the rarely-seen night janitor, who I choose to believe is this world's Discord.

Yet somehow Sunset came up with the exact same idea that Twilight did, and for no good reason. She's just there because Anderson can't be bothered to come up with an original idea.

All I want is for somebody to end my pain.

Then you've got the fact that the rest of the main five have allowed this. In Rainbow Rocks, Pinkie balked at the mere suggestion of Twilight spending even a single night sleeping in the library, because, yeah, who would put a friend through that when they can help, right? But it seems that they've been perfectly happy to allow Sunset to live in such a state for all this time if the idea of letting her sleep around their places was so new to her.

Admittedly, they might not know that Sunset is homeless. But wouldn't Sunset have still shown some kind of reaction in the movie if she was harbouring a secret like that and saw what her friends thought of it? And besides, Sunset seems pretty open with her new friends. She's not nearly as prideful as she was. So why would she still keep that a secret?

And the big one, the really big one, is that if Sunset lived in the library, then WHERE WAS SHE IN THE FIRST FUCKING MOVIE? You see the problem here, don't you? Twilight slept in the library on her first night in the human world. That's what this is ripping off. So while she was in there on her big stack of books, talking to Spike, are we to believe that Sunset Shimmer was somewhere in the same room and we just didn't see her? Didn't she hear them talking? They weren't exactly quiet. Why wouldn't she have gone over? And if she wasn't sleeping there that night, then where the hell was she?

I'd be perfectly happy to assume that she moved in with Flash Sentry and was leeching off him for all her years in the human world, and then when they had their recent break-up she was forced to go live in the library, but she and Flash were already separated by the time of the library scene in EG1, so again, what the hell is going on here?

This is all indicative of a larger problem, too. Despite the fact that this book shamelessly rips off scenes from the movies, it often seems like Anderson never even watched the movies, because the continuity in this book is fucking paper thin. How do you forget that Sunset doesn't live in the library when you're actively ripping off the scene that proves she doesn't? How do you forget that Sunset knows what slumber parties are when you're ripping off a slumber party scene in which Sunset was a major participant? I could drive a semi truck through these plot holes!

Part 13: Can this fucking comic please be over now?

So Sunset writes to Twilight, as you saw. Twilight brings up the windigoes for no good reason, and Sunset asks Twilight if she thinks there are windigoes in this world, too.

Because cyberbullies and mythical world-ending winter spirits are totally comparable.

She says no, and that it doesn't matter anyway, and that Sunset needs to believe in herself or some shit. This inspires Sunset to run to find her friends and try to convince them of her innocence again, because that worked so well the last time.

Amazingly, though, it does work. She finds them in a diner somewhere and asks them if they really believe that the person she is now would be capable of doing something like that. And clearly, yes, they do. They have demonstrated that they do in fact think that she could. And they don't even believe in the person she is right now anyway, as Pinkie said that Sunset was faking it all. But despite that, this time they're ready to take a chance and believe her. They all sit down to have an actual conversation and try to work out who Anon-a-Miss really is, and Sunset figures it out after about thirty seconds of thought, coincidentally just in time for the Crusaders to arrive and confess.

Part 14: No, seriously, who are these characters?

Pictured: the Hitler Youth themselves.

So here we finally get an explanation for all this fuckery.

Apple Bloom was jealous that her sister was spending time with Sunset and the girls instead of with her and the rest of the family, so she decided to make up Anon-a-Miss, humiliate her sister in front of the whole school, and frame Sunset for it. Sweetie Belle, upon hearing from Apple Bloom about what she did, decided that she felt the same way about Rarity, so she stole Sunset's phone during the second sleepover to help with the frame job. Scootaloo apparently just joined in for shits and giggles, because she never explains why she was in on it, just that she was.

And Anon-a-Miss turned on the rest of the school because people started sending the Crusaders other people's secrets, and they just decided to post them as well because... because.

Sweetie Belle says that they're sorry with a big grin on her face as she hugs Sunset, and Sunset instantly forgives them for however many days of hurt and misery they put her through. Applejack, in turn, instantly forgives Apple Bloom for her betrayal because "You're family." I guess that for all Sunset's talk about the girls being her family now, the feeling isn't mutual after all.

Needless to say, I was not happy about this revelation.

Honestly, this is an infuriating double standard and one of the worst parts of the comic. When they thought it was Sunset who betrayed them, they ended the friendship on the spot, but the Crusaders get a free pass? Why? Surely if anything it's even worse that they did it? Applejack trusted her sister completely, certain that none of her family would ever tell anybody the pig story, let alone post it online for all to see. How could Applejack ever trust her sister with a secret again after she did something like that?

I'm not saying that the Crusaders are beyond forgiveness. Forgiveness and redemption are some of the central themes of the series, and I'm all for that. And the Crusaders are (normally) likeable characters, besides. But when the main five were so horrible to Sunset just because they thought that she was Anon-a-Miss (and this back when they'd only made two posts, just to remind you), then why weren't they even slightly angry with their siblings after they've done so much more and so much worse?

And, on top of everything else, the main five never apologise to Sunset for treating her so badly. It's just completely forgotten. No "Sorry for not listening to ya, sugarcube." No "Yeah... we should've given you the benefit of the doubt." No "We were positively beastly towards you, Sunset! I hope you can forgive us?" It's just assumed that they're all cool again.

This is either seriously OOC behaviour, or all those people were right in saying that the EG main five are nothing like their Equestrian counterparts. A friend of mine brought up in my Rainbow Rocks review that these are meant to be teenaged versions of the main five, so it makes sense that they'd be far less mature. I think that he's right about that. And I also think that it's a damn good thing the main five in the show aren't teenagers if this is what they were like in their youths. I didn't mind them in the movies, even Rainbow Dash, but I hate them here.

And the Crusaders were even worse. They've been careless and caused damage in the series before, but they were never vindictive. Not like this. Okay, Sweetie Belle in that one episode was pretty mean to her sister, but that was a spur of the moment thing, and she spent the whole rest of the episode learning about her mistakes and trying to make it right. But this?

Seriously, they've got to be changelings or mirror pool clones or something.

Part 15: Cyberbullying

Then there's this fucking cyberbullying element. What's going on with that?

Quite aside from the fact that this was a shit idea for a holiday special, this was meant to be a story about cyberbullying, wasn't it? That's the great "story that Equestria Girls is uniquely suited to tell" that this comic was exploring? So why is that all of a sudden forgotten at the end here?

Look, I'll be clear about my feelings on this. I think that cyberbullying is a massive load of crap. I think that if you're emotionally sensitive enough that words can hurt you that badly, you shouldn't be on the internet in the first place. The world wide web is a big place and you'll encounter a lot of people on it, and very few of them will actually be civil to you. Being on the internet requires a thick skin. I've always believed that, and I continue to do so.

So this comic is aimed at me, right? If the comic is going to have a message about cyberbullying and how terrible it is, then its goal is to convince me, isn't it? So why has this failed to do so?

Well, let's break it down...

...shall we?

We started out strong on that front by showing that cyberbullying has real world consequences. Applejack didn't need to spend all her time on the internet to be hurt by Anon-a-Miss and her actions, because it spilled over into her daily life through the rest of the school's mockery. This blurs the line, as I'd argue that this is not really cyberbullying anymore but just verbal bullying from their peers that the girls are dealing with, but fine.

Next we try to focus on a victim, in this case, Sunset. She's hurt by Anon-a-Miss's actions due to her friends cutting off contact with her over the whole thing. But this undermines the point the comic is trying to make about the power of words, because this relies on so many other factors. Yes, Apple Bloom's goal was to frame Sunset and achieve this outcome. Apple Bloom is indeed bullying Sunset here (and Christ that was a weird sentence to type).

Except that this isn't using hurtful words to strike at Sunset, like cyberbullying usually is. This is an elaborate manipulation and frame job that relies on the main five being stupid and untrusting, and this scheme would have foiled itself if only everyone had acted in-character, because as we saw in the cafe scene, if Sunset and the girls had just talked to each other a little more than not at all, they would've cracked the case in under a minute. Sunset wasn't hurt and miserable because of the dark machinations of Anon-a-Miss and her cyberbullying. She was miserable because her friends were a bunch of dickheads.

And they will echo in my brain forevermore...

Then of course there was Anon-a-Miss expanding her scope to attack the whole school, which is... kind of pointless, in the grand scheme of things. It seems like this aspect was only there to cement the Ponyville Confidential rip-off, because it really doesn't make any sense from the Crusaders' point of view. And from a story perspective, this really should have been be what broke their power, because when you think about it, Anon-a-Miss only blew the whistle on everybody's secrets. The mockery and hurtful words all came from the student body, represented in-comic by jeers in the hallways and replies on Anon-a-Miss's posts by characters like DT and Silver Spoon, or Snips and Snails, or Hoops.

So in a way, it was the school that was bullying Sunset and the girls, not Anon-a-Miss and her online profile, which again shifts the focus away from cyberbullying and onto real-world bullying, and which continues to damage my ever-low opinion of Canterlot High as a whole.

In Rainbow Rocks, I could understand them still being bitter and untrusting of Sunset after she spent so many years as the local tyrant and after what she tried to do at the Fall Formal. But after she helped save them from the sirens, I would've thought they'd cut her some slack at long last. And I especially would've thought that the rest of the main five would've earned enough goodwill to not be the subject of public mockery. I know in FiM they don't get any respect either, but there we're talking about a whole country when the main six's victories have usually occurred in private. The climaxes of both Equestria Girls movies, on the other hand, took place in full view of everyone.

And like I was saying before I got onto this tangent, since Anon-a-Miss's power rests in her reliance on the rest of the student body to both send her secrets and to mock the subjects of her posts, she should've lost her influence once she started indiscriminately targeting everyone. People should've stopped sending her secrets, knowing that nobody is safe, and Anon-a-Miss should've become the new public enemy that they're all united in hating. Which is kind of what happened, except that they assumed it was Sunset. If the comic had gone on any longer before the Crusaders revealed themselves, the bullying would've gone away on its own as everyone stopped giving a shit what Anon-a-Miss had to say.

Comic unrelated. I just needed to break up the monotony here.

And then there's the final, most damning nail in the coffin of whatever pretence this comic had to seriously approaching the issue of cyberbullying, which is that it cannot make up its damn mind on how much weight there is to its villain's actions.

Is this a condemnation of the evils of cyberbullying? Well, I don't see how. Sure, for a while we're led to believe that cyberbullying is horrible and that it can have serious damaging consequences, as Sunset is supposed to demonstrate if not for all the other factors that I talked about before. But then at the end of the comic, when the Crusaders step forward and apologise, both Sunset and the main five all forgive them instantly with no hard feelings.

I don't get the impression that the CMC's cyberbullying was some devastating and horrible thing from this. I mean, I'm sure Sunset's ordeal truly was a miserable one. I don't doubt that she was in real pain from this. But I mostly attribute that to the callous and uncaring attitude of her so-called friends. The Crusaders themselves she seems to bear no ill-will towards whatsoever, and I don't really know why. Who are they to her? The little demon sisters of her bitchy friends. And yet she has no trouble forgiving them. No big deal. Not like she went through any major trauma or anything.

So is cyberbullying a terrible thing, or isn't it? Because as far as showing the negative effects of cyberbullying, all this comic has taught me is that it can have real consequences if you also get a whole bunch of idiots along for the ride to perpetuate your bullying in the real world. And as long as you apologise afterwards, it's all cool.

I'd go into more detail about my feelings on this, but I think this image sums it up pretty well.

Part 16: Dr. Frankenstein would have been proud.

So everyone forgives everyone, the Crusaders make apologies and get six months of detention, and we close out on everyone all having a happy Christmas together at Sweet Apple Acres. That's it. That's the comic.

So now that the comic is over, let's look back at the plot as a whole, like we did at the beginning, so I can make some conclusive statements.

And I think I know what to start us off with: This comic is incredibly uncreative. Just think about this for a second. Think about what happened in this comic. Is there anything here that wasn't shamelessly stolen another, better instalment of the franchise?

The Anon-a-Miss plot and the Crusaders being behind it was stolen wholesale from Ponyville Confidential, only done in the medium of a thinly-veiled MySpace parody instead of through print (another reason why this was most certainly not a story that could only be told in the Equestria Girls world). This is especially apparent once they start revealing everyone's secrets instead of just their sisters' secrets. Just like they pissed off the whole town in the episode, they pissed off the whole school here. Only here, it's more nonsensical, because they're targeting the people that they rely on to get their information, and they're not doing it for any good reason this time.

The bullying aspect I wouldn't say was directly stolen from anywhere, despite being a pretty tired subject in itself, but One Bad Apple already tackled bullying, and while that episode had problems of its own with regard to its message, it still handled it a hundred times better than this comic. The moral and topic of the comic here was hackneyed, built on flimsy storytelling, and it clumsily shot itself in the foot with its many contrivances, plot holes and faulty logic.

This is almost the exact face I made when I first read the plot synopsis for this comic.

And despite the fact that this comic is taking place in a whole new world away from FiM, and one relatively ripe for development at that, it still can't help but just copy scenes from the other two movies in lieu of coming up with something original.

The slumber party scene from Rainbow Rocks is played out again not once, but twice. Instead of coming up with something creative to explain Sunset's living situation (one fanfic I know had her living in an abandoned factory, for example), it reuses the plot point about sleeping in the school library from the first movie, even though it doesn't make sense. And Sunset's whole experience of being feared and mistrusted by the rest of the school over a misunderstanding because she was bad in the past is a blatant retreat of her arc in the last movie.

So there you go, fanfic writers. Now you know how to make a story on par with canon material. Just snatch a bunch of ideas from various episodes of the show, stick them all together in an interesting order, play them out again, copying scenes wholesale along the way, and voila! There you have it! A story without a single original thought in its head.

Part 17: It's over. Bring out the booze!

This comic was a thoroughly miserable experience to slog through, and I wouldn't wish it on any of you. No, not even you, Jake. It was a sloppily-written, unoriginal piece of work, and even putting aside who its author is, I still cannot believe that IDW put their official seal on this and released it for money. I don't know what Christmas did wrong to deserve this, but seeing as it's a date on a calendar, not a person, trying to take revenge on it with this comic is surely a fruitless venture.

Having read through the whole thing now, I think I can say with conviction that this is the worst MLP comic IDW has ever put out, and I do not say that lightly, my friends.

And on that note, I think it's time to sign off, because I've filled thirty Google docs pages with my ranting about this comic, and I'm still not sure if I've written enough, so let's end it here before it gets worse. Thank you for reading. I hope you all found it worthwhile, I hope at least some of you got a laugh or two out of it, and I hope we all learned something.

Oh, and have a happy new year.


Report DannyJ · 2,362 views · #DannyJ Reviews #Hail Hydra
Comments ( 20 )

I read this 9,400 word review so that I know to not waste time reading that comic.

What's the message here? What is Anderson trying to say with this comic? Cyberbullying is bad.

I'm convinced that wasn't what the comic was about because it mangled that "message" so horribly.

The comic was a mess, which is a shame, because with a shift of intended message to something like trust and family and significantly better writing, it could have been pretty great. Oh well.


It still would've had a lot of other problems, but I don't think I would've hated it as much if it had at least had a better message and didn't handle it so horribly. This was a huge waste of potential. Considering that we only get one Equestria Girls comic a year (and therefore only one comic potentially featuring Sunset Shimmer a year), nobody was more disappointed than I to see it all turn out like this.


nobody was more disappointed than I to see it all turn out like this.

Them's fightin' words.


I think we both knew from the moment we met that I would have to destroy you eventually. If we must fight, this is as good an excuse as any.



I would have to destroy you eventually

You think you will win so easily?



Yeah, 'cause that ain't what they all say.

1. Didn't know you were a Brony! :pinkiegasp: I encountered you through Wanderer's Diary first.
2. This. Comic. Sucks. Link- oh, wrong internet celeb. Danny J!
3. puu.sh/dKT4d/71ef87c86b.jpg
Does it look like said "damn math tests" to anyone else? To me, it looks like the supposed n curves back up, implying it's actually an m.
4. Great review!


I was going more for Mr. Plinkett than Linkara, but thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!



Bro, do you even Jaraxxus, Eredar Lord of the Burning Legion?


You know, I know how horrible everyone is saying this comic is, but I think I'll have to read it myself to fully understand how awful it is. I don't doubt you when you say how bad it is, but frankly, I feel like I need to actually read it to experience the hackness of Ted Anderson. I get the feeling that I need to experience it on a spiritual level; after all, the best way to fight the enemy is to know him.

From the looks of this comic, the word to describe it is "lazy". Lazy writing, lazy drawing, just lazy everything. Maybe I should with hold this statement until I read it in full, but I get the feeling that this comic is going to be worse than the Reflections saga. Because for all the problems that series had, I at least thought it was creative and was at least trying to tell an interesting story.

THIS though.... from all descriptions, this is the "Avengers #200" of the comic series. This basically means that something really weird happens, characters act way out of their attitudes as established in previous comics, and everything (writing, drawing, etc.) is extremely lackluster.

Man...can't we just fire Ted Anderson and hire Simon Furman? At least Furman has had experience in writing Hasbro characters decently (the Transformers), and has written for IDW before.

Regardless, great review, coolio.

(By the way, am I the only one who thinks this comic sounds like the movie "Cyberbully", only somehow worse? At least that movie had the immortal line "I CAN'T GET THE CAP OFF!")


There's no comparison. Reflections was flawed, yes, but it had plenty of positives. In fact, until the fourth issue and the rushed ending, it was one of my favourite arcs. But even the people I know who hated Reflections with a passion all agree that this was far worse, completely awful from start to finish. If you want to hold up this comic against a bad Cook/Price arc, I'd say it's far closer to The Good, the Bad and the Ponies, their most recent one.

But really, even that was leagues ahead of the holiday special. Most MLP comics are, actually. The only ones I can think of that even come close to rivaling this for awfulness are Friends Forever #1 and the Twilight Sparkle micro. And even then, that's mostly just because they were boring, boring, boring. This comic, on the other hand, actually makes me angry, and that just doesn't happen to me, normally. Last time it happened at all was Mare Do Well. So this still blows all competitors out of the water.

When I called this the worst MLP comic IDW ever put out, that was not hyperbole on my part. I meant it.

Well put. I really hope they get rid of Ted Anderson soon, because I feel like it may just go downhill from here. Well, further than it already is.

Oh, and thanks for the review. Besides the one Horse News article that was done on this, I couldn't really find any decent reviews that told me in great detail why it sucked.


Horse News were the reason I wanted to write this in the first place. I felt that someone needed to go into more detail with this, since the article was kind of vague at times, and also I wanted to get my turn at bashing Ted Anderson, since I've been following that saga for a while and have concluded that he does completely deserve all the scorn I could give him. But then I actually read the comic and saw how it was even worse than the Horse News article made it sound, and Ted Anderson himself suddenly became secondary. To be sure, Anderson is the reason I didn't pull any punches in the review, but this comic inspired a thirty-page rant entirely on its own merits. Or flaws, as the case may be.

The issue with cyberbullying is that it does lead to real world bullying. No one kills themselves because their Internet friends were mean to them. Calling it cyberbullying obscures the fact that what it really is, is bullying using cyberspace. Incidents include raping a drunk unconscious girl and then passing the pictures around online so everyone she knows personally thinks she is a slut (apparently teenagers are not taught that sex with unconscious people = rape and being raped != being a slut and the evil of being a rapist > the evil of being a slut anyway). Or pretending online to be a real world friend and saying nasty shit. Or being a real world friend and then selling your friend out online.

People talk like the issue is anonymity -- and it has actually been proven that both anonymity and using your real name produce more bullying behavior than pseudonymity, because people protect the rep of their pseuds the way they do their real names, but pseuds don't give you real world social power where you can go all "Do you know who I am?", so your point about the difference between anon and pseud has actually been disproven by studies, but anonymity has always been a bugaboo anyway. The issue that people are ganging up on you and spewing hate at you anonymously is only an issue if it causes you real world fear -- which it generally does, if it's at the levels we hear about in the news. Kathy Sierra, a woman who blogged about user experience in interface design and was considered bascailly a non-controversial professional, quit because she was receiving anonymous death threats. Anonymous death threats mailed to your workplace in RL would have the same potential effect; cyberspace just made it easier. People don't use known pseuds for their anon death threats because known pseuds have a reputation to protect. Even if your known pseud is plentyazz315 (I have a RL friend who goes by this online), it's still got a rep. Pure anonymity and throwaway pseuds are more dangerous than known pseuds.

But the point is, it's not ever about "people were mean to me on the internet", it was always "people used the internet to cause me real world consequences." Whether it's turning your entire school against you by circulating your nude selfie, manipulating your friends into rejecting you, or sending you death threats that could theoretically be coming from people who know you personally or know where you live, cyberbullying is always about generating the same kinds of problems real world bullying does, just using the internet as a medium to do it.

So actually the story's depiction of cyberbullying is fairly accurate in that it's basically always about ruining your life by turning your friends and acquaintances against you or making you fear everyone, not about being mean to you on the Internet. However, it does sound as if the story is a clusterfuck of stupidity and a very bad example of the concept... and because cyberbullying is simply real world bullying via the Internet, the Gabby Gums story was just as good of a way to tell the story as actually having social media involved is.


I don't think we really disagree on this. Cyberbullying is just another form of bullying using a different tool. This is at least part of the reason why it annoys me that it gets its own name and is treated as a different thing. I think it muddies the issue and makes the whole thing difficult to talk about.

My main problem with the depiction in the comic is that is that it tries to be a story about specifically the cyberbullying, where Anon-a-Miss is the big villain we're supposed to hate, but it seems to completely ignore that Anon-a-Miss herself comparatively does very little, and that it's her friends and the school that are the main cause of Sunset's misery. At the beginning of the comic, before the main five start acting like Anderson lobotomised them all off-panel, they all resolve to just ignore it and wait for it to blow over, so clearly Anon-a-Miss herself doesn't have much power over the girls. It's when they turn on Sunset that they all suddenly get hurt, which again, if they'd been remotely in-character, they wouldn't have done.

Anon-a-Miss's power is in her ability to sow discord and make bullies out of others, not her ability to use a computer and have a pun for a name, so why does this comic seem to suggest that there's only one bully here (or three, as the case may be)? Even if Sunset and the girls had exposed the Crusaders after their first two posts, the rest of the school would still be laughing at them for however many days it took to die down. But none of the students ever apologise like the Crusaders did, and none of the main five ever apologise to Sunset. And neither the school nor the main five are ever villainised like Anon-a-Miss was, either. It's just treated like Anon-a-Miss was the only problem, and once she's out of the picture, suddenly the whole issue is resolved. And really, Anon-a-Miss shouldn't have even had that little amount of influence, because as discussed, the girls' behaviour is seriously OOC here. These were the wrong characters to tell this story with.

re: anonymity. I think you misread what I was trying to say. I'm not disputing that more people use anon to be dickheads than they do pseuds. Names do keep people more in line. I'm just saying that an anon and someone using a pseud have equally valid opinions until they prove otherwise, and that I resent the culture that exists on the internet of writing off whatever an anon has to say because they're anon, which some people do (particularly on sites like Tumblr and Facebook). Demonising anonymity as something only bullies use is going to be a bad thing in the long run, and we're all going to miss it if everybody on the internet is ever forced to attatch their name to every word they ever type.


This was absolutely beautiful.

I'm surprised that you didn't write a fix fic for Anon-A-Miss with this beautiful logic. It would be an impressive read :raritywink:


Does the world really need more Anon-a-Miss fixfics?

Thank you, though. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I tend to try and look for ones that are actually GOOD, rather than bland or stupid or straight-up Gorey Revenge fics.

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