On March 5 this year, a large stone in the volcanic mountains near the town of Nasu in Japan's Tochigi Prefecture was found to have succumbed to what seems like a normal case of freeze-thaw weathering and split in two. Even setting aside that this occurred over two months ago (though, to be fair, that's a blink in the lifespan of your average rock), such geological processes are hardly news even for mainstream sources, much less a furry news site. But this wasn't just any rock.
The rock in question was the Sessho-seki (or Killing Stone), the rumored earthly remains of Tamamo-no-Mae, the Jewel Maiden, a legendary nine-tailed fox said to have spread chaos throughout Eastern Asia for nearly 2000 years before finally being hunted down in Nasu. Though finally killed and transformed into the stone, you can't keep a good evil fox spirit down; so her final resting place was obviously haunted by it, poisoning anyone who came near. Though she'd apparently calmed down a bit after an encounter with a Buddhist priest, the stone suddenly breaking in two is a bit ominous.
It’s another IDW sweep, with two Micro-Series issues (Pinkie Pie and Old Hob are featured this time around), and another Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue. Ben Bates returns; he’s the artist behind the aforementioned Pinkie Pie story, despite the fact that I pointed him out as a positive in earlier issue of TMNT. His art, however, makes a cameo in the TMNT issue; but more on that when we get to it. First, let’s see what Pinkie Pie’s up to, shall we?
Normally I finish with whatever art comments I make (and I usually don’t make a lot of those), but since I’ve already talked about the artist, I might as well start there this time around. Bates is right at home in funny animal comics; besides TMNT, he’s also done Sonic the Hedgehog. Here, he’s a bit tied down by the fact that Pinkie Pie has to look like Pinkie Pie, after all; his backgrounds are also a bit simplistic, and could use more detail.
The story revolves around Pinkie Pie winning a contest by drinking 315 bottle of Colta Cola (no wonder she’s always wiggling around like she’s in desperate need of a bathroom on the show) to win a ticket with backstage passes to the great clown Ponyacci’s show. It turns out, however, Ponyacci is on the verge of retirement; Pinkie Pie is completely upset by this turn of events.
There are a couple of solid jokes in this issue; Pinkie talking to her Ponyacci doll is so in character, I can hear Andrea Libman’s voice while reading it. Twilight Sparkle plays straight mare for Pinkie; ironically, when Pinkie only wins two tickets, she doesn’t angst about it like Twilight does in a similar situation. Finally, it’s nice to see clowns and clown dolls played so straight (well, you know what I mean); we live in a world where vampires are protagonists for children’s cartoons, but there are not one, but two horror franchises based around killers who take the guise of dolls with playful catchphrases. Pinkie Pie knows what I’m talking about.
This issue, IDW sweeps the board, with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #3 and the first two installments of the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mini-series, “The Secret History of the Foot Clan,” which tells the secret history of the Foot Clan. Turns out they were a parody of Marvel’s Hand ninjas all along!
The A cover for this issue of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic looks like a really, really rejected Marvel Secret Invastion crossover cover from a few years back. At least it gives you some kind of warning; heaven help you if you got the B cover, featuring Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie happily ice skating. I may have juxtaposed Hack/Slash with this series last time, but I’m just kidding around. Apparently some like their ponies like their coffee; black and bitter.
For those who are not already reading Housepets!, the Monday-Wednesday-Friday-updating Internet full-color strip (and why not? It won Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip for three years running, 2009 to 2011, and it’s free), Book 3 collects the strips from May 31, 2010 to June 3, 2011. These are the story-arcs #31, “Spot McCloud Presents Comics” to #42, “Not All Dogs”, plus all the one-off gag strips between.
SFSite has an interview this issue with the author of The Fox Woman, a fantasy novel about a kitsune. I haven't read this one, but I've read some of Johnson's other work and found it intriguing. The interview's neat... anyone read the book yet? This is the site's review of it.