Comic Review: Issue #24 · 7:45pm
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.