• Let's Review: Friends Forever #26

    So... not really a Yak fan. Just putting that out there.

    But how about dual princes? Physical copies for Friends Forever #26 hit store shelves early last week, but everything should be up to speed today. Let's talk about Prince Blueblood and Prince Shining Armor's adventure!

    (Spoilers within! Please leave your nukes at the door.)

    Comic book covers have never been bastions of honesty. Go to any shop and witness a myriad of images that offer tragedy, conflict, and excitement that might be in the actual pages. The goal is not to give away the comic’s story, but to make you invested enough to pick it up and read.

    I mention this because the A cover for Friends Forever #26 offers a similar promise. A viewer might start scripting the tale of an arrogant young prince. Underestimating a pony who married into the role, Blueblood would need a lesson in humility.

    Doubtless many a fan would be drawn to such an idea, given Blueblood's poor treatment towards Rarity. Plus there’s the hope that Shining Armor will have his chance to stand out after so many events where he is brought low and needs saving.

    The comic opens with a consistent theme: Equestrian politics are bonkers! Shining Armor and Cadance are due for an ambassadorial mission in Yakyakistan, but an emergency summons away all four princesses. Right away we have a distraction. What could be happening that requires all four princesses’ attention?

    Sweet Christmas, YES! IDW, could this ever be a thing?

    Shining Armor’s decline starts when he laments that he doesn’t know anything about trade. A newly-married prince, and no one has begun to teach him about royal duties? It doesn’t speak well for him, Cadance, or Celestia that they would send him on a mission without the proper training. Yet this is a typical tactic in Equestria, making me wonder how they accomplish anything.

    Celestia does have an alternative: her inexplicable nephew. Blueblood’s entrance is that of a friendly buffoon who quickly draws Shining Armor’s ire. Doesn’t help that Blueblood claims he never took interest in Cadance because she was an orphan.

    Twice in recent comics that they’ve referenced Cadance’s absent parents. Interesting idea if this is foreshadowing.

    The goal appears to be to make the audience underestimate Blueblood. Yet no sooner have they begun their mission then the scales start shifting. Blueblood is the smarter pony for having guards carry him in a palanquin while Shining Armor insists on proving his masculinity independence by walking to Yakyakistan.

    Instead of arriving rested and well-read like Blueblood, Shining Armor is late, exhausted, and unfocused. It doesn’t help that while he makes a drama of his journey, Blueblood’s escort are able to spirit the BB Express the entire way, through snow, without any warmer clothing and still outpace Shining Armor.

    From there we resume the one-note joke from Party Pooped. As Blueblood points out, trying to mimic Yak culture failed last time. So why should Shining Armor expect different results? Probably shouldn’t have taken lessons from his sister, who nearly trotted into a war. By the time Shining’s ambitions have been smashed along with everything else, it’s clear he’s out of his league.

    Blueblood is content to let him fail, only stepping in once Shining Armor has the humility to ask for help. Is this Blueblood making sure Shining learns a lesson, or does he enjoy watching Shining Armor squirm? Because that’s the uncertainty with Blueblood. One of his tenants for being an ambassador is:

    [Remembering names] shows ponies that you care (even if you don’t).

    Blueblood makes a far greater showing in this comic, expressing care for his guards and for the Yak residents. But this line shades everything with doubt. Even Blueblood’s praise of the Alicorn princesses might be words he knows ponies want to hear.

    Despite this doubt, the A cover proves true. Blueblood really is the #1 prince. He’s able to avert war, win over the Yaks’ goodwill, and gains Shining Armor’s respect. Would Blueblood have fared so well in a military operation or if paired off with a princess? Likely not, but he seems confident enough in his self-image that he wouldn't feel the need to prove himself.

    This comic might be better labeled the Prince Blueblood Micro than a Friends Forever title. Shining Armor does not contribute towards a solution. For Blueblood to stand out, Shining Armor must repeatedly fail. In fact, it seems he was set up to fail. We’re told this might have been Celestia’s intent to create a learning opportunity, and Shining admits he now knows what it’s like to be tricked into her lessons. For those who wonder, “Could this be a Celestia lesson?” I’ve created this helpful guide:

    For me, the best Friends Forever issues allow both characters to show their best and build a mutual respect. Blueblood certainly succeeded, but Shining Armor never stands out. He is there to fail and need rescuing. His lot in life seems to be the jobber, though there is hope as he asks Blueblood to teach him to be an ambassador. Are they friends? I doubt it. But there’s at least more respect on Shining Armor’s side.

    This comic is an interesting perspective on Blueblood and offers a mixed view. Intelligent and charismatic, but seemingly insincere. It’s an impressive feat, given that having a bad attitude in Equestria is met with greater contempt than being an actual criminal. Yet the fact that Shining Armor has no positive traits to contribute diminishes the overall story. Promotion one character over another cheapens the experience.

    Here’s hoping Shining Armor can show his best in a feature issue. He deserves some positive spotlight. 

    Twitter: Silver Quill