The Cutie Mark Crusaders ask Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy about what happened just after the events of the Cutie Mark Chronicles; specifically, what happened to Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash immediately after the race. Reluctantly, Dash and Fluttershy delve into a tale. A tale of a young Fluttershy's amazement at the world she had landed upon, and a filly Dash's desperate quest to save her from that most evil of places: THE GROUND.
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SaturdayComic Review: Issue #249 comments · 123 views
Issue 25 and I are having a disagreement, so we're instead going to play catch-up and look at last month's one-shot. Discord is back, and he's taking Fluttershy and the Cutie Mark Crusaders on a trip through time. Maybe they'll finally kill the Daleks. Yep, kill them. For real this time. Totally for real. They're not going to come back next season. Nope. Dead. Deader than a doornail.
...I hate Doctor Who.
The issue begins with Fluttershy and the Cutie Mark Crusaders going off on a trip to observe nature, complete with filly scout sashes and caps. (It seems to remind me of something I should be writing, but I can't quite put my finger on it...) They barely make it out the door before a meteorite crashes into the earth, sizzles a bit for dramatic effect, and pops open to reveal Discord. He was just hanging out in the Horsehead Nebula when he accidentally flew too fast and ended up going back in time a week. (Or in my headcanon, he went off into space to bug Picard, ran into Sisko, and got his ass knocked into last week with one punch.)
Discord invites himself on the trip, but gets bored with looking at modern birds and alligators, and offers to take the group on a trip through time to see ancient and long-extinct creatures. The CMC are super-excited, but Fluttershy is anxious about leaving anypony in Discord's care...until she hears about the giant butterflies from prehistoric times. Will our heroes survive their trip through the world's future and past?
You can probably guess my biggest problem with the issue, and it's the first word in the last paragraph. I have made zero effort to hide how much I disliked Discord's redemption, and while “Twilight's Kingdom” did a heck of a better job than “Keep Calm and Flutter On” showing him screw up and actually learn something, it's still not quite enough to make me excited about seeing him again. This issue...well, it wasn't “Three's a Crowd” in terms of annoyance, but it feels very confused about how to handle the character.
Things start off just fine. While Discord is still not actively plotting their deaths or torment anymore, he's perfectly willing to encourage Scootaloo to poke a sleeping alligator while Sweetie Belle is in its mouth. (Although given how stupid that is to do, I assume he's also into Social Darwinism.) He also helped lead a seemingly heroic rebellion against an Egyptian Empire counterpart, but that was only because said empire was perfectly ordered, and a God of Chaos must have standards. All of these, plus his selfish nature and references to his lingering villainy, are quite fine.
It's the fact that the issue also contradicts “Keep Calm and Flutter On” that bugs me. Specifically, the episode made a big deal out of Discord never having a friend in his life before Fluttershy. This issue shows that he was in a possibly romantic relationship with the leader of a feline rebellion (who is also apparently a previous incarnation of Twilight Sparkle) and was friend with one of those prehistoric butterflies. It could be argued that he wasn't actually friends with them, but even so, it feels a bit off considering how his becoming good was approached to begin with.
That said, the rest of the cast is handled well. Fluttershy is a caring and protective guardian for the fillies, and is perfectly willing to chew Discord out when he crosses the line. (Although saying that he shouldn't have friends was pretty cruel.) The CMC are just their excitable little selves, with Sweetie stealing the show with some rare signs of insight and intelligence. The new characters are okay, although it feels like much of the story is setting up things that could be explored in more detail elsewhere, especially since the Ancient Egypt and prehistoric parts of the issue compromise a majority of the content.
One thing about this issue that I do like is how it further solidifies the notion of a stable time loop, something initially set up back in “It's About Time.” In that episode, Twilight gets a warning from her future self, which causes her to worry herself over nothing, and ends with her going back in time to warn her past self. Here, Discord explains that the past cannot be changed and the present is set in stone, but your future is still being written. In effect, you travel back to something in the past because history dictated that you would travel into the past, but there is no guarantee that you'll return because anything that happens to the present you that is now in the past is technically your future.
Fairly standard, but it's nice to have some more solid rules.
The art is quite good, and I do like a lot of the jokes. Naturally, the issue is full of Doctor Who references, such as the time machine (a gigantic square thing that's much smaller on the inside), Discord wearing a fez, a panel with some Cyberponies, and an amusing bit where Discord pulls Dr. Whooves out of his machine and punt him into the horizon. Overall, however, the issue doesn't feel particularly groundbreaking or memorable for me. It might be because I'm not a fan of reformed Discord and don't care that much for Fluttershy, but I don't dislike the latter and I liked the former's appearances in Season Four (“Three's a Crowd” aside) and in Issue #2 of Friends Forever. This is very much a relaxing filler issue, and in that regard, it's fine. It's just not something I'll be going back to time and again.
Next month is this month, and we've already talked about that. The month after, we have the conclusion to the ponies fighting the bulls. Hopefully it won't be a load of them.
1w, 1dAbout today's comic9 comments · 242 views
This issue was well-drawn and had some funny moments. I also hate it completely, and all because of one single plot point:
Twilight refuses to help.
To clarify, the Mane 6 are in a town that is being harassed by a gang of bulls. The local law enforcement is a single sheriff that gets knocked out in one punch, and it's the same bulls that Applejack and Rarity were able to fend off back in Friends Forever #8. There isn't a repeat of that fight, but I can understand that; Applejack and Rarity had the advantage of being in a moving stagecoach, which gave them extra protection, and they are now in a strange land fighting the bulls head-on. So Applejack asks Twilight, the princess who can use magic real good, to help drive them off.
She refuses. Why? Because she doesn't want to use her magic to harm anyone.
Oh, it's because they're not magical! Yeah, just like those pirates you repeatedly zapped about a dozen issues ago - oh wait, they didn't have magic powers, either! And how about those bats you genetically altered to not like apples? They weren't magic, either, but that didn't stop you!
Wait, maybe you're trying to be princess-like and attempt diplomacy first. That's fine. Shows some real leadership skills to - wait, you're not doing that, either? Even after they burned down a damn barn?
...Okay, comic, show writers, we need a chat. You seem to have this problem with pointing out a problem in your story, and then doing absolutely nothing to rectify it. That isn't how you do things. Pointing out a flaw on your own without actually addressing the flaw makes it many, many times worse. Remember when I blew my top over that mocking last page of the "Reflections" arc, where you laughed at everyone who bought into the promise of alternate universe counterparts besides the Princesses and Sombra playing a role? Same thing, only now it's in the main story.
I'm not going to review this one. I might talk about it if the next issue is any good, but...I'm sorry, I can't take this crap. Now let's finally watch that trailer for Season 5. Surely it can't be...
Time to bring out the old standby...
7 comments · 207 views
Rainbow Dash is the fastest flier in Equestria. Spitfire is the leader of the Wonderbolts, the most elite pegasi of them all and whose ranks Dash wishes to one day join. The two have worked together numerous times, but today, they shall face their greatest challenge. For they have been called upon to perform one of the most difficult, thankless, and terrifying jobs known to pony kind...
Our issue opens with Rainbow Dash serving as the temporary mailpony. (No reason is given for her taking the role, so I'll just assume that Derpy's busy fighting a kaiju-sized muffin monster and leave it at that.) After flying through a suburb that looks nothing like Ponyville, she receives a letter from Spitfire requesting her presence and immediately abandons her sacred duty to go join the Captain of the Wonderbolts. Their mission? Serve as guest teachers at a flight camp for very young fillies. Easy enough, right?
There's only one problem: Spitfire is terrible with kids. Can Rainbow Dash help her idol get over her issues?
The first thing that stands out in this issue is the art, done by newcomer Jay Fosgitt. It's a decidedly mixed bag. On the one hand, the shape of the ponies feels very Calvin & Hobbes-esque, which is perfect for a story focusing on little foals. It just looks incredibly cute, which makes it even weirder when they keep making faces that wouldn't look out of place in a...less-than-seedy bit of fan art. Where the problems lie is the backgrounds, as nothing looks like it fits the aesthetics of the show. While living conditions have bounced all over the place in Equestria, Ponyville has always been shown to have a lower-tech, more medieval level of architecture, so having the story start in what looks like a modern suburb is really off-putting.
The highlight of the issue is the interplay between Rainbow Dash, Spitfire, and the foals. Rainbow actually takes to teaching pretty well, although since it's another opportunity to have everypony pay attention to her and say how wonderful she is, that is to be expected. Spitfire's issues with kids, on the other hand, are portrayed in a realistic fashion. She's not some raving child-hater; she'd probably enjoy at least speaking with her class in any other circumstance. Instead, her problem is that she doesn't know how to teach foals, which is something that makes a great deal of sense. As the comic points out, you can't be patronizing or condescending, but you also can't be overly tough on ponies that look to be about preschool age. (One of the best moments in the issue is when Spitfire tries to use her “Wonderbolt Academy” drill instructor voice and behavior; she reduces the entire class to tears in about two minutes.)
The story is ultimately about Rainbow Dash helping her mentor overcome her flaw, which is sadly something the show has done to death by now, but works much better here because they don't have to turn Spitfire into an oblivious jerk or manipulative sack of crap to pull it off. It's a realistic flaw, and I could tilt my head and see Rainbow Dash being able to help, which is furthered by the issue showing her first attempt at advice leading to the above-mentioned tears of the innocent.
The foals are mostly nondescript, but are also a lot of fun and feel like actual kids. The first day of class is just them goofing around, including one lying on another foal's head like a hat, several of them doing stretches incorrectly, Peppermint Patty showing up as a pony for some reason, and one of the kids asking Spitfire if she has a special somepony. (Trust me, that's one of the first things any group of kids you are assigned to look after will ever ask you.) The second day, they react exactly how children exposed to a screaming angry pony would: they're terrified and crying for mommy. And all it takes to win their attention back is a display of awesomeness.
The only foal to get any real attention is Loop de Loop, a shy little filly with a stated talent for flying. She's absolutely adorable.
Overall, the issue is pretty good. It's a cute little story about how even our heroes can have flaws, and how you shouldn't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. The art is a mixed bag, but otherwise, a fine issue.
Next time, Applejack must defend her extended family from robbers. And we have a full docket in December:
* Twilight must save Pinkie Pie from herself
* Applejack must continue to save the family.
* And we get a Christmas special...about cyberbullying.
Oh, and Ted Anderson is still working on the series. If you'll excuse me, I'll be looking through the latest thread comparing him to Hitler.
9 comments · 145 views
Another month passes, and another pair of comics have graced out doorstep. I'll be getting to Discord's and Fluttershy's excellent adventure shortly, but for today, we're looking at another companion of Fluttershy's...a certain burly minotaur named Iron Will. Can Fluttershy help the big guy get in touch with his “inner pony?”
Our issue opens with Ponyville, that wonderful town free of all of reality's vices and bigotry, stampeding away from the bellowing presence of Iron Will, who wants to see Fluttershy. The rest of the Mane 6 stand their ground outside her cottage door, but it turns out to be for nothing when Fluttershy walks out and calmly asks him what's wrong. Turns out Will's wife told him to not come home until he's learned how to be nicer, and he's come to the kindest pony he knows to do just that. Can Fluttershy help tame the savage beast? And why does Iron Will have to do this?
First issue, and by far the biggest one, out of the way: EVERYPONY BESIDES FLUTTERSHY IS A DICK. The issue opens with the entire town running away from that no-good monster, and the minute Twilight (who has never seen Iron Will before and could have nothing more than second-hand experience with) sees who's coming, she mobilizes her friends to save Fluttershy from that greedy fiend. They never give him a chance to explain himself, nor do they even think Fluttershy (who has handled Discord by this point) is capable of teaching him how to be kind. And at the end, after Iron Will's learned his lesson and is throwing everypony a farewell dinner (a gag early in the story reveals that he's a gourmet cook), they immediately criticize everything he lays out because they're picky and selfish.
And then there's Rainbow Dash, who is just a complete ass the entire issue. Every scene she's in, she finds a way to make everything worse. I imagine that's why the preview art for the next Friends Forever has her with a big head and tiny neck; Iron Will choked her until she was stuck that way.
That said, the moments with Fluttershy and Iron Will are well done. The story builds from Iron Will's last scene in “Putting Your Hoof Down;” while he's very aggressive and demanding, he's also honest and has a softer side. He actually seems to enjoy taking care of the animals and the spa trip, until Angel ruins the former and Rainbow Dash the latter. The fact that he has a wife and son also help add more layers than just a big-mouthed salesperson, and the idea that he and his family live in a maze is amusing.
The basic premise of the issue is that Iron Will's son is taking after his father's worst traits, i.e. talking back to his mother and teacher. And while Iron Will tries to become more understanding through animal caretaking, pastry sales, apple bucking, and finally the spa, he really doesn't see the value in it; his son is just trying to be like his old man. The final lesson has similarities to “Putting Your Hoof Down” in that it doesn't state that being assertive and forceful is bad, but rather that it isn't the end-all, be-all reaction you want to encourage.
Beyond that, the issue is very simple and straightforward. The two just go to a task, something inevitably sets Iron Will off, and they try something else. There's a brief running gag about Iron Will asking to be paid for the work he's doing (for stuff like running the counter at Sugar Cube Corner, this makes perfect sense), and some of the ways he fails are pretty funny (again, Sugar Cube Corner and his encounter with Pinkie). The art is just generally okay; Garbowska returns with her more simple, but still cute designs, and while some of the poses and expressions are awkward, the overall look works for such a simple story.
If you're not a big fan of Iron Will or Fluttershy, you could pretty much skip the issue. It's a standard story that features all of the other ponies being colossal flankholes. Still, it's a good story to pick up later at a lower price, or as part of a compilation, and if you're a fan of the two, it's pretty much a must-read.
Next time, Rainbow Dash is summoned to aid Spitfire fend off the most vile creatures ever to crawl out of the primordial muck...children!
44 comments · 430 views
And on the plus side, I will have plenty of time to write again once the job that's actually making me happy is eradicated and I'm no longer destroying America.
In the meantime, I'm still scrapping some story updates together. Hope to have something soon.