When it comes to comics and graphic novels for younger audiences, now is truly a good time to be a reader. There are a number of books geared towards young readers that both appeal in terms of story and with learning opportunities. Marie Spénale's Wonder Pony from Boom! is one of those offerings, and it's a charming one with a unique appeal even if that appeal is somewhat limited.
The story of Wonder Pony is relatively straightforward. Our heroine, Louison, is sent off to boarding school by her parents and she doesn't want to be there. However, she quickly finds herself making friends with her two roommates, Ann and Sam—especially Sam—despite the trio being very different. Adult readers may see shades of the impeccable Giant Days in the set up, especially in Louison. As school gets under way, the three girls soon begin hearing whispers about monsters haunting the hallways. It prompts Louison and Sam to investigate and find a box in the ceiling containing nail polish, a bag of candy, and a toy pony. Louison ends up with the pony and it quickly becomes apparent that this is no ordinary toy. Instead, the toy turns Louison into the superhero Wonder Pony, charged with protecting the school and students from monsters.
As origin stories go, it's a darling one and as you might expect, Louison doesn't exactly take to her new powers and responsibilities easily. It's Louison's rough road coming into her own as Wonder Pony as well as trying to figure out what it is to be a friend, that make up the bulk of the comic's story, serving up valuable lessons for readers as it goes. However, while the story is charming and, again, geared toward younger readers, the book moves almost too quickly and is a little disjointed in how it offers Louison's misadventures and challenges. The book possesses a frenetic pace and while there's some utility in that—wanting to maintain reader attention is admirable— even for a younger audience it's a bit much. Also a bit much are the leaps the story takes as it moves through Louison's challenges. The book also ends in a too-tidy wrap up, one that resolves the major issues of the book, but leaves so much open-ended that you come away from it not quite sure you read a full story. There are a lot of dangling story threads to leave you puzzled, as well.
If you can get past that, though, Wonder Pony can be a fun read and it is always a very fun comic visually. Everything is cute and soft and round to the point that the whole book feels rather bouncy and light. Spénale also offers scrapbook-style introductions to the various characters in the story that are a lot of fun. And if you happen to be a My Little Pony fan? This book is very much going to appeal to your aesthetic preferences, especially the visuals.
Wonder Pony is a cute, fun, and approachable comic book. Its story is perfectly tuned to young readers and the visuals are a perfect tonal match. While the book is a little rushed, a little jumbled, and at times extremely superficial, there are solid lessons for young readers to learn while enjoying the easily appealing origin story of a hero that they can see themselves reflected in.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Published by Boom! Studios
On July 29, 2020
Created by Marie Spénale