• Let's Review: Friends Forever #32

    Spiders. Why'd it have to be spiders?

    Okay, I've reached my Indiana Jones-inspired quota for the week. Let's talk about the latest adventure.

    Be warned, these are raiders of the lost spoilers!

    Fluttershy and Daring Do. Now there's a duo that is both unlikely and obvious. I love it when Friends Forever combines two characters who wouldn't otherwise interact. It's something unique that gives this series traction outside the main show. Yet Fluttershy and Daring Do lead such polar opposite lives that it seems an obvious choice for an odd couple. There's a danger in relying on that too much.

    Double the danger when it comes to Fluttershy. She's not had a stellar run in Friends Forever. It's not that I think she hasn't had good stories. I greatly enjoyed her in issue 18 and the look at her past. But did you know that Rainbow Dash was in that comic too? I forgot, because Fluttershy spent most of the time hiding. So many of her stories feature her separated from her costar, weakening an important part of this comic line's appeal.

    So what happens when a Daring Do cosplayer comes barreling through her door with an invitation to adventure?

    First "peeved" and now "buttons"? 
    Fluttershy, you're becoming such a potty-mouth!

    No, wait, sorry. That's the actual Daring Do. It can seem like an impostor because this comic's version of Daring Do is very different from the show. She's way more happy. I think the first two pages contain more smiles from Daring than three whole episodes. This is a character who isn't just energized by adventures, she's giddy about them. Everything except spiders, for which she claims an allergy.

    I'm not sure how plausible that sounds. I know people can be allergic to bee stings, and a quick Google search states that people can be allergic to spider venom. So, good to have an animal expert nearby. Yet anyone who has seen Indiana Jones will know what's-what.

    Right off the bat we have a fun contrast between a character who is enamored with adventures and one who avoid them unless totally necessary. Fortunately, Rainbow Dash gave Daring the 411 on how to make the pitch. This is one of the best choices for the comic: Fluttershy and Daring Do work together for 95% of the story. Fluttershy sticks to the mission requirements while Daring has the fun. Fluttershy shows her own kind of quiet courage as she descends into the dark while Daring shows her skills in a brawl.

    Her powers of observation know no bounds!

    Not once in the story does Daring wish to be rid of Fluttershy, nor does the timid pony every try to run back home. In fact, Fluttershy is never presented as the weak link. They are presented as equals, with mutual respect. Daring is, in fact, encouraging. Fluttershy compliments Daring's high energy with quiet comments and a very dry humor.

    Speaking of energy, that's a good segue to Jay Fosgitt's artwork. I know that many fans will flat-out skip an issue because this style doesn't appeal. It's likely the most polarizing style in the comics, and I think it deserves a full discussion. I'm going to devote next week's post to Jay Fosgitt. Within the context of this comic, I do think his cartoonish poses and emphasis on curves convey the energy that comes with racing through temples, brawls, and a villain's comeuppance. It's a good compliment to the story, though many will wrestle with the more human-style poses for ponies.

    This panel sums up their dynamic nicely.

    There is an understated moment about midway through. On a quest to find a rare spider with a map on its back, Daring and Fluttershy manage to save one while Dr. Cabelleron carts off whole crates. Daring could have just copied the map on to a piece of parchment and gone alone, but instead she brought Fluttershy and the spider to another temple. I like that Daring isn't looking to offload Fluttershy. I get the sense she wants to see this through to the end with the pony she invited.

    Even if it means fighting Ahuizotl, who is never far away from Daring's adventures. Ahuizotl is different from his show persona as well. The show version is a characture of old-school, world-conquering, "curse you!" villains. His comic book counterpart is more interested in wealth than world domination and shows more of an ego when it comes to Daring. But no matter what the interpretation, Ahuizotl loves to tie up Daring Do.

    Somewhere, somehow,
    there will be a pillow about this.

    Thus we reach the main message of the story. It's amazing how many people are attributed as saying "Courage is not the absence of fear". So many that I can't say with certainty, but many agree that the bravest people are those who acknowledge and overcome fear. Usually for something more important than self-preservation. Fluttershy is a constant example of this, but Daring's arachnophobia is a nice compliment. It may have been inspired by Indie and snakes, but Daring's fear makes her less of a one-note adventurer and more rounded. So does her confession and shame to a sympathetic Fluttershy.

    That's the biggest strength of this comic. It's not just relying on "adventurer and coward" as the dynamic. It's expressive & reserved, physical & emotional, boisterous & humble, self-reproach & empathy. There are multiple contrasts between these characters.

    Daring Do and Ahuizotl are very different characters from the show, which will likely turn many away. Given that we haven't seen a lot of the two, or that they haven't interacted with many besides Rainbow Dash, it doesn't bother me. If anything, I found this version of Daring Do a perfect compliment to Fluttershy, and a lot more entertaining than the scowling loner. This is a fun, energetic comic with a lot of great moments for both characters.

    That hairband makes me think she's blowing the audience a raspberry.

    Not to forget, it also gave fans the image of a zebra alicorn to speculate upon, and it remembered that Daring Do is a pegasus with working wings. It also succeeds in making spiders look cute.

    Fuzzy Legs approves!

    Twitter: Silver Quill