Given how much bad luck these two put together seems to bring in, I figured it needs to be talked about. So Equestria Girls, that franchise that had a ho-hum start as a spin-off and then changed everything with a very well-loved sequel in Rainbow Rocks and the rest is history until some bone-headed toy decisions in it's later years caused Hasbro to get cold feet and put an end to the franchise in a bit of a whimper(Now Holidays Unwrapped was actually a pretty damned good special but it's obvious it wasn't meant to be the finale). Then you got the IDW comics where they were getting insanely popular until the Reflections arc where writers were getting to big for their britches and making comics that were to ambitious for them to handle only to wind up rubbing people the wrong way and since then the comics have been a real rollercoaster, with standalones doing pretty average to fairly solid while major arcs tend to fall under high scrutiny depending on how big the stakes can get. However despite the fact that Equestria Girls wound up being a very successful spin-off, and at one point one could argue even became more popular than the main series, it comes as a surprise that IDW rarely made comics featuring the girls adventures in Canterlot High, however, if you read what they did offer, it's pretty easy to see why. Seems like every single time IDW makes a comic based around the alternate reality of Equestria Girls, something always seems to go very.....very wrong. So let's take a look as to why that could be the case
Not a great comic by a long shot, but damn that's a pretty cover
First off you got the Annual 2013. At first glance there doesn't seem to be much wrong with it, more or less a double feature with a short origin story for Sunset written by Katie Cook(with art by Andy Price), followed by the main meat dedicated to the rest of the girls written by Ted Anderson. However this was the first Annual ever made for for the comics and when it was revealed it would be centered around EQG that didn't sit well with a lot of people, Now the Sunset comic was fine, it was pretty much what you expected from Sunset's origin given what we know about it, and I mean that in a good way, it didn't do anything different from what was expected, just set out what it was meant to do. The problems lie in the other part of the comic. It's about as basic of an origin story about high school freshmen becoming friends as you can get but there's just too problems going on.
For starters the art is really bad. This was back when Tony Fleecs was getting used to Pony aaaaaand it shows
Second on is how....uncomfortable it can get. There's the existence of Babs Seed and her friend Sunflower, the popular Queen Bees of the school. Now for starters Babs Seed is older here than AJ, which just looks really....not right at all. Then her characterization, she's even more unpleasant here than she ever was in Bad Seed, which says a lot given she was really bad there too. Then here friend Sunflower who openly neglects her puppy. Together they're especially cruel, they regularly, openly mock AJ and Fluttershy for being who they are and actively wedge Rarity who they treat well because she can make them more popular. RD I'm pretty sure they forgot about repeatedly because she hardly matters in the story and feel like they occasionally brings her up as a way of saying "oh RD is here too"(which isn't too surprising, they forgot about her too in the Dark Water arc, and Ted Anderson forgot about her too in her own FF Comic with Shy). Pinkie's really the only one that gets to shine in this comic as she was both the most interesting to listen too and the one who brings them all together. There's also how rushed all of their conclusions were and just really unsatisfying, especially with how much Rarity, AJ, and Fluttershy had to put up with. Heck, remember that dog I brought up? I completely forgot about it after Sunflower rushed to the vet for FS's help after treating her like garbage the whole time. There's still a lot of little things that bug me, like how Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon appear as the same age as the mane 6, and how we don't get any of the Soccer team and how they are. But hold on to your butts because the worst is yet to come
Because now we have the Holiday 2014, and boy is there a lot too say about this one. I want to get this out of the way, but Tony Fleecs does the art again, its a little better but still has a lot of his early jank. Much like the Annual, this is the first Comic's first Holiday special and just like the Annual that didn't sit well with people. This one, written once again by Ted Anderson, now deals with the mane 6 after Rainbow Rocks, and how Sunset is handling with her friends. It has the hallmarks and set up for a cute and relaxing Christmas story, but instead they decided instead it was better to make a story addressing social media and cyberbullying, because having a cute and relaxing Christmas story apparently wasn't good enough, they had to make it about a really difficult topic instead, and boy did they royally drop the ball. Starts off fine enough with Sunset still getting used to being with the rest of the girls with the girls inviting her to a Slumber Party. After Applebloom asks what AJ is doing and after being told she's busy, shenanigans ensue and the girls are having fun. Next day Applebloom reveals inflammatory posts by a user on MySpace named Anon-A-Miss along with photos of the girl's slumber party the day before. The girls are quick to blame Sunset and Anon-A-Miss continues to make nasty comments towards several other students who has a MySpace. Cue the rest of the comic spent on Sunset being abandoned by the girls, and other students being incredibly cruel to Sunset, to the point of crying multiple times. Then the end and probably the worst part of the comic, when Sunset finally confronts the girls about her innocence, the CMC spill the beans and reveal that they were Anon-A-Miss the whole time and they were jealous of Sunset becoming friends with their sisters and spending time with her instead of them, so they decided to spy on their sisters and proceed with posting everything on social media, and admit to it after everything gets outta control. After that is one of the most insulting conclusions to this topic, with everyone brushing off the CMC almost destroying Sunset's life and their friendships as "they're only human" or some shit and no one even apologizes to Sunset(in fact Sunset forgives them still)
I don't think it's hyperbole to say this is one of the worst things I think the entire MLP franchise has ever put out. The mane 5 are completely unreliable friends who don't even think about giving their new friend the benefit of the doubt, the lengths the school goes to tormenting Sunset is beyond unpleasant, and the CMC are straight up monsters for what they did, like this is the kind of thing that makes them completely irredeemable. I'm pretty sure I'd rather watch Newborn Cuties before I'd even consider reading this comic ever again. Still don't think I'd take Newbie Dash over it though since that episode straight up justifies hazing, and it's a canon episode. To this day though, this comic still grinds people's gears, to the point it still has an active "accusation fic" fanbase, possibly rivaling that of MMDW, full of fans who are....really vindictive of this comic. Heck, you've probably ready one of @Dark Qiviut's rants about the comic at some point
I'd love to say we have no where to go but up, buuuuuuuut
Up next we got a comic from the Fiendship is Magic line, a comic line dedicated to the Dazzlings written by professionally hired EQG hater once again Ted Anderson. This one is an origin story of the Dazzlings, what they did before arriving in the EQG universe and how they ended up there. One thing I do want to bring up is how the art is done by Agnes Garboska, aaaaand this is more like it. The problem I have this time though is how it treats the Dazzlings compared to the rest of the villains in this line. It deals with how Starswirl originally dealt with them and how he banished them, but how they got on his radar is....another matter. Story starts out with them in the early Canterlot times, wanting to become famous so they enter a music contest only to be boo'd out by the audience. They decide they need to try something new so they decide to make a their own genre of music(obviously Pop music) and the wind up winning over the crowd as a result except Starswirl who sees them as dangerous. Cue him coming up with new music to combat them, and they both come up with pretty much every genre in the world. After losing to them he decides to send them through a magic mirror to the Human world in hopes they won't be able to use their magic ever again. And we know how well that went.
While it's not as bad as the other two EQG comics, it's....really lame. Especially in comparison to the other Fiendship comics that actually help build a threatening aura to the other villains featured(even tragic in the case of Sombra), here the Dazzlings come off as unthreatening jokes, which is especially disappointing given they're actually incredibly effective villains in Rainbow Rocks and are arguably some of FiM's best who were really able to get the Humane 6 and their backs to the walls without any bullshit. Starswirl also comes off as really lame as well as he couldn't even handle these and decides to send them away to another world so he wouldn't have to deal with them. Overall just a really lame and underwhelming origin for two two characters, and evidently Hasbro and IDW thought so too because they'd eventually retcon the comic with both Shadow Play and the Legends of Magic comic. But we're still not done with EQG because we got one more comic to go over.
This one hurts
This time around, instead of one big piece of background or handling sensitive subjects, they decided to split it into 3 short and simple stories(thankfully for once not written by Ted Anderson), followed by a rerun of Fall of Sunset Shimmer.
The first story is called Detention is Magic written by Danny Djeljosevic, focuses around the girls getting detention over a misunderstanding and them trying to figure out what happened that landed them there and who started it. At first each person blames the next person that it was their fault(whether it was Pinkie Blaming Fluttershy for her gerbils for ruining homecoming decorations, FS blaming RD for scaring her gerbils with her soccer ball, RD blaming Sunset for popping balloons near her and scaring her, and so on). This lasts until Rarity reveals she recorded everything, and is able to reveal that everything was a complete accident. They then go on to apologize to each other and then see go to Harshwinny to prove their innocence, in which she forgives them, but then reveals they already served their detention anyway and go home. Not an amazing start but given what's come in regards to EQG is a massive step in the right direction, it's a fun and simple story that doesn't promise anything big and is probably enough to convince it's just here for a good time
Before I go on, I do want to say that the art is a huge step up from what it usually is, this time being illustrated by Toni "Pencis" Kuusisto. There are some iffy looking moments, but he's gone on record to admitting he had to rush through this and wasn't able to clean up everything(you'll see most of the polish halfway through), but even then this is leaps and bounds better than some of the stuff from what we've gotten before
The second story is titled Dashin' Around written by Christina Rice, this time focusing on Rainbow Dash wanting to go to a book signing by AK Yearling, however she was reminded that she promised AJ to help her out on her farm with chores the same day, so she goes and hopes to get everything done as quickly as possible, including apple cider(and you know how how she is about that). But after a couple of ours of talking they have to go through chores, which RD takes care of them and rushes through them(and to her credit, she's at least not being sloppy with them). But when Applebloom comes back home from the bookstore and shows she got a new book signed by Yearling, AJ remembers RD's a big fan and tries to get them there as quick as possible, but unfortunately it was too late. As they walk out the bookstore, AJ realizes that's why RD was so quick to rush through all of their chores. While RD says she did so because she really wanted to meet Yearling but she still remembered that she promised AJ to help out and didn't want to flake on AJ and disappoint her. AJ goes on to say that she still did disappoint because AJ just wanted to hang out(especially with school and all the crazy stuff that goes on)and RD should have been honest and she would have happily comply. And damn, gotta say, that's a really good spin on things. RD realized she was too focused on meeting a stranger she pretty much forgot about hanging out with her friend and apologizes, which AJ gladly accepts. But just as their about to head back AJ calls for Yearling to get RD's book signed, much to her surprise
The 3rd story is called is called Getting Seconds by Toni Kuusisto, which basically serves as RD's "Last Round Up". This one focuses on a sporting event where RD vows on placing first in all events while all the other girls want to participate, and decide to focus on one event they could do best in. This leads to RD stretching herself too thin and landing second on every even while each of the girls barring Sunset land first on the ones they practice for(though RD places first in the leaderboards, which is important to know). During the final event, the soccer game, RD begins to feel that she's holding everyone back and attempts to sit the game out. And when the girls find her, they convince her to join the team and remind her she still topped the leaderboards, but RD's insistent. Sunset then is placed as captain of the team where she puts AJ as rightfield, FS as Goalie, and Twilight as defense much to RD's dismay. She begrudgingly joins back after seeing Sunset's horrible plans and manages to win everyone the game.
Even without taking the low bar set from the last few EQG comics, March Radness is easily the best one by far. Only surprising thing is how Dash-centric it is(though I feel the name should have been a dead giveaway). But it's still even great on it's own right. Art is great and the stories are fun and cute reads and proof that you there's no reason to up the scales or tackle some heavy themes to make a worth while story(especially if you can't do it right), sometimes having something simple is perfectly fine. Heck, this was one of those instances where I loved a comic so much I actually tried to track down a physical copy
Now you're probably wonder "Hey Megas you just spent this whole half of your blog gushing over this comic, what's so bad about it?"
It came out in the middle of a pandemic when everything was lockdown
Yeah, unfortunately, just because something is good doesn't mean it wasn't cursed. It's been ages since the last EQG comic, and given none of them have been good before March Radness, I can't imagine it helped its sales much better anyway. And it's really heartbreaking to think how EQG finally gets a good comic, but it's probably gonna have the lowest sales of all and it's probably gonna be the last one we'll get unless IDW is extremely generous. It's a shame because March Radness showed that with some care people will accept more EQG comics and I do believe they have their place