The most obscure 'My Little Pony' nod ever
Fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic are well aware of its penchant for pop culture references; some are odd for a show about talking ponies. The recent Equestria Girls movie, for example, quoted dance moves from Pulp Fiction and featured a sly reference to the Stephen King novel and Brian de Palma movie Carrie. Then there’s the famous Big Lebowski ponies from the episode “The Cutie Pox.”
However, last year, the ponies themselves became an obscure nod in Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. III. While we’re on the subject, we might as well take a look back at Vol. II, which features an odd genesis story for the modern furry genre. A new television series based on the comics is coming, after all; might the ponies and furries follow?
You got your MLP in my LXG
I only recently got around to reading The League of Extraordinary Gentleman: Century: 2009; this third volume of the series spans a century (as the title suggests) and tells the story of fictional characters Allan Quatermain, Mina Murray and Orlando as they try to stop the Anti-Christ from being born. The main gimmick of the comic series is that all fiction can be canon, regardless of medium, intended audience, or even basic logic (though usually with a dark twist thrown in).
The references to fiction come fast and furious; I freely admit that I basically got Harry Potter and James Bond in 2009 while somehow managing to miss an obvious Lion King nod. Admittedly, most of the references were to British television, not an area of my expertise. Luckily for me, Jess Nevins keeps a set of annotations which list references made by the series; about halfway down, I noticed this:
Page 29. Panel 6. email@example.com writes, “Duff Beer is again seen in the stand as well as ZapApple Energy Drink.”
Zap Apple Energy drink is a reference to the zap apples of the “Family Appreciation Day” episode of My Little Pony.
The panel in question is debatable, to say the least; while technically still within the bounds of “all fiction,” and therefore possibly canon (both unicorns and talking horses are established as canon in the series), My Little Pony seems a bit outside of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman’s wheelhouse. However, I decided to Google “league of extraordinary gentlemen my little pony” and found a much more obvious reference.
Do you see it?
How about now?
I checked my physical copy: the poster had been changed to say “Ass id ATTACK!” The annotations are no help; Nevins seems to be lost as well. So, that’s confusing, but at least at one point, the comic explicitly referenced the Wonderbolts (I’m still on the fence about the Zap Apple thing).
Still, this leads us to speculate how Equestria would work in the world of League; my guess is that, if Moore were to explain them, they would be the modern descendants of the Houyhnhnm from Gulliver’s Travels. He’d be hard pressed to come up with a unique “dark” twist to the ponies; given bronies’ love of shipping (they were secretly gay and/or having sex is a favorite twist of Moore’s for children’s characters) and “grimdark” fanworks (“Cupcakes,” “Rainbow Factory,” PONY.MOV/Ask Jappleack and Fallout: Equestria being some of the more well-known), the most shocking thing he could do would probably be just to leave them alone.
But speaking of dark twists on funny animal characters, let’s review Vol. II.
The nature preserve of Dr. Moreau
Though Vol. II of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman primarily revolved around the titular League dealing with the arrival of the Martians from H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, there was a subplot to deal with another of Wells’ creations, Dr. Moreau. In this subplot, it is revealed Dr. Moreau survived The Island of Doctor Moreau (despite being pretty definitely dead in the novel's text) and is now using land in the south of England to continue his experiments under the patronage of the British government.
The meta-joke here is that Moore noticed that Wells’ horror novel predates an explosion in British funny animals; his in-universe explanation for this new breed of comic book characters is they are the newer experiments of Dr. Moreau.
Now, it has come to light that a pilot for a League of Extraordinary Gentleman television series is being produced. Alan Moore will almost certainly not be a fan if it becomes a series; he, perhaps more than a bit hypocritically, considers adaptations into different media to be a disservice to stories. Ironically, the infamous League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie is one of the deciding factors in his hatred of adaptations of his work.
If the series does see the light of day, and it is somewhat faithful to the comics, will the Dr. Moreau plotline be used?