Twilight and the rest of the Mane Six have been having nightmares that are keeping them awake all night. After they all get together for a slumber party, hoping that being together would have an effect on the nightmares, Rarity is kidnapped by a formless darkness. Princesses Celestia and Luna arrive, Luna having sensed the return of the darkness that transformed her into Nightmare Moon. She reveals that Rarity has been taken to the moon, and that if the darkness grows any more powerful it would destroy Ponyville and the rest of Equestria.
Luna plans to go confront the darkness herself, but Twilight an the others insist on going with her. Celestia plans to remain behind, to help Ponyville prepare to protect itself.
First thing to notice is that Andy Price isn't doing the art anymore. And while Amy Mebberson does a great job, there was something endearingly quirky and stylized about Andy's art that I will miss from this series. Fortunately Amy channels a similar style, one that emphasizes the black lines rather than the matching colored lines. Though, her style sticks a bit closer to the show style. Not to the point of imitation, she steers well clear of that, but basic face and body shapes are closer to the show than the first four issues of this comic.
For example, where Andy gave the pegasi longer wings that seemed more realistic for flying horses, Amy on the other hand gives them wings that match those the characters have in the show. While Andy's art had a lot of character, Amy's has a good deal of character too, but it's a bit more subdued, and more in favor of making the characters more like their cartoon incarnations. Where Andy's art stood out from the art of the show, Amy on the other hand has a style that I consider the art style of the cartoon idealized for comic book format.
Facial expressions are a bit more subdued, which I think is the only real big loss in the changing of art styles. Andy's faces were just weird and out there, and I felt they worked well to expand the comics into more mature ground than the cartoon covered. But, this being the first issue of the new art I will wait until we're at least two issue in to decide what I think of the series compared to the first four issues.
I have to wonder when exactly this is taking place. I know last issue was after season two. Are these stories meant to follow each other chronologically? Because if yes, then Luna's hair is wrong. In season two her hair is more similar to Celestia's, with the ephemeral waves of night. This hair looks more like her hair back at the beginning of season one. Was this done because her hair was too hard to draw? I doubt it, since Celestia's hair is practically identical to it. The only explanation that makes sense is that this takes place in between seasons one and two. Which would mean this isn't chronological to the last story. Which makes sense, since in her cameo at the end of that story her hair looked more like her season two incarnation.
That is one prop I will give Amy over Andy, the way she draws Celestia's hair looks a lot more like it does in the show. In Andy's style the hair looks like regular hair. Which is all good and fine, but I think Amy gets the points for attempting to make it look more ephemeral, like in the show.
Heather Nuhfer takes writing duties over from Katie Cook for this next story, and while one issue isn't enough to really make an objective comparison, I have to say that Heather's work is solid, though a bit more subdued than Katie's. Katie went all out with the weird and the wonderful for her story. Heather on the other hand has plenty of wonderful, but not much weird. Again, we're only one issue in so I can't make an objective assessment yet.
This issue's strongest suit is the interaction between the characters, and their individual nightmares. We really get a good look at Rarity, who is the kind of character that most people wanted to hate at first, but came to love as the series progressed. Her nightmare looks into the most fundamental aspect of her character, and really what makes her work, despite sharing characteristics with other less loved characters from other shows.
Rarity at her most basic is an artist, and what good is art if you can't share it with others? She wants to help others, it's just that sometimes the ways she wants to help in are ways that others aren't too concerned about. And really, that's her biggest fear.
Also, Maybelle? What the shenanigans?
While we do get a great extended look at her psyche, I do think that Rarity fans will be concerned by her role in this story as the damsel in distress. Granted, last time that happened she stole the show. So this could always turn out just fine. Though I am getting some Bleach vibes by the second major story in the comics being another rescue mission. I hope that the third story, if there is one of course (and considering the sales this series is pulling it would be madness not to continue), will step beyond the rescue mission format. I still want the kind of epic adventures the cartoon won't give us, but perhaps something a bit less overdone.
I do find that Celestia's involvement is nicely handled. While she can't be involved in the main plot, since she is too powerful and would most likely solve the problem herself, there has to be a way to get rid of her that makes sense. The cartoon can be a bit clumsy with that, but I think the comics have been pretty good at giving her a reason. So far comic Celestia is quite a bit more useful.
Still, this issue shows a great deal of promise, and if it stays at the same level as the last four issues I will be overjoyed. So, for now, great issue, it shies away from a perfect score just because I'm waiting to see where this story goes next.