• Let's Review: FiM #49

    Time to continue the tale of Accord.

    Expect conflict. Mind trips. Very unsettling grins!

    Click for more, but beware that forced harmony brings spoilers!

    Well now, the last new comic of the year, and right before Christmas. Let's see what holiday cheer we can find.

    SWEET CELESTIA'S BOOMSTICK! Send them back to the fiery pit from whence they came!

    So when last we left off, Accord's "mind control brings harmony" policy was just getting launched. Already our ponies are on the defensive and pleas for sanity and reason fall on deaf ears and grinning teeth. Our ponies face a unique villain. Most of the villains they faced were driven by pure selfishness. They wanted a scenario that benefited themselves Only Starlight Glimmer and Accord convinced themselves they were acting for the greater good, and the former doesn't have as prominent a role this issue.

    What a strange fellow I am. My first thought on seeing this is "Rarity can't teleport!"
    Pinkie Pie sliding like that doesn't even raise an eyebrow.

    Instead, the greater effort falls to Luna and Twilight. The Princess of Friendship decides the only way to get accord back to Discord is to do some mind diving. Using the spell she used on Big Macintosh in Friends Forever #17, she and Luna will try to hit the reset switch inside Accord's noggin'. Why Luna? Other than the fan's cries of "Go Moon Princess!", Luna did see the inside of Discords mind back in Friends Forever #20. Hmm... I think there's a word for what's going on.

    Speaking of my beloved continuity, folks who've read my reviews or watched my videos know that I am not a fan of mind spells. Mind reading, emotional influence, mind control. Love spells, reform spells, reconciliation spells. I find the very idea terrifying. Going on about it at length would be a tirade, but I'm thinking of doing an editorial on the subject.

    Twilight didn't do this spell out of necessity. Only curiosity.

    Yet life is chalked full of gray and this is one of the few times where I think there's no alternative but to go for the mind. It doesn't make mind-altering powers any less dangerous, but the only alternative is defeat.


    Andy Price's artwork is on full display both as we enter Accord's mind and the remaining ponies evacuate Canterlot. Twilight and Luna experience a reality that harkens back to Friends Forever #20. Back then, Discord's nightmare was being forced into conformity. He was literally chained to cubicleville, the modern-day symbol of being treated as a replaceable part.

    That suit looks good on her. Better than Principal Celestia.

    This new mind is even more nightmarish, because even color or the smallest diversity is lost to grayscale. Normally I celebrate Price's work for the little details and easter eggs present, but in this case I think the lack of detail enhances the danger.

    Though that's only in Accord's mind. Price's artwork is on full display elsewhere. He's even getting in on the... well, it's not what I'd call fun.

    Hello Cleveland–I mean–Princess!

    I don't know how closely Ted Anderson and Andy Price collaborated on this issue, but the writing and artwork blend together wonderfully to create a terrifying scenario. The replaceable parts imagery I mentioned before takes on a whole new level as Accord begins transplanting his identity on to ponies.

    You'll get my terrified screams and you'll like it!

    Accord doesn't see ponies. He sees parts. He claims to reside in the hearts of ponies, but the truth is he hasn't even considered them as feeling beings. Nor does he acknowledge that he's decided it's his will and no other that should control this gestalt. It's why Celestia and the others are rightly horrified.

    Dang it, Celestia! 
    I already used a The Happening joke last week!

    The biggest sign of Accord's lack of insight comes when he tries to compare himself to Celestia.

    This is Celestia's expression whenever she sees how Bronies portray her.

    To Accord, Celestia opposed Discord's total chaos, therefore she must seek total order. Because he's playing the role of the fanatic, Accord's presentation of this idea might seem too extreme to be realistic. Yet how often are we tempted to think, "This person doesn't like A, so they must be in favor of B"? In many ways we can't process the multitude of reasons why people act or think certain ways, so we try to simplify it. We generalize and label; but much like Accord we go to far in trying to impose that idea on reality.

    Twilight and Applejack are particularly guilty of this back in part 1. Discord wasn't doing what they wanted, so they decided he must be trying to sabotage them. In reality he was trying to connect the only way he knew how. Doesn't mean he was right to do so, but he is still trying to figure out how connections work. So when Twilight finds a remnant of the old Draconiquis, it's good to see her realize  her mistake. Once again, Andy Prices artwork and play with panel styling really helps this stand out.

    So many sad expressions. Which one pulls hardest on your hear strings?

    On criticism I've noted with some fans is that Price's expressions can create mood whiplash. That things like Celestia's "WAT" breaks what should be a tense scene. If one is getting drawn into the personal toll of these events, then a freakout expression can break the immersion. Yet I think that criticism relies on this being a completely serious comic. MLP is meant to be a comedy, though it can feature very intense scenes. So much of this story feature heavy moments and threats that I'm grateful for these comedic asides.

    Price's artwork also makes a clear case for Celestia. Several times she makes mention of her sister, her pupil, her subjects, her city. The artwork and the story's context show just how different these words could mean than if spoken by Accord. While Accord sees a set of parts to fit his overall design, Celestia sees individuals whom she has failed to protect. The personal loss she's facing can seem crushing

    My hooficures...

    As the issue draws to a cliffhanger, this middle part has done a good job of raising the tension. Accord's fanaticism is a world menace and the pony's only option thus far has been retreat. That may work against this story, however, as we've had a history of amplifying stakes followed by hasty resolution. It's a hard balance to find though I think these three-parters are doing a better job than the four-part arcs.

    There is the sense that most of the cast are there to run away from threats while only a handful are proactive. The real centerpieces seem to be the three princesses and Accord. Starlight and the Mane Five have yet to contribute, and I'm unsure how part 3 will balance things.

    This issue did flesh out the reasons behind Discord's transformation. My own idea that this was all a ruse seems invalid. Yet going off part 1 and taking this issue's events into account, there's one pony who I hope will set things right. It's not Twilight, Luna, or Celestia. Next month's cover suggests that Starlight Glimmer will step in with a solution, but I'm hoping it will be Applejack. Twilight has acknowledged her mistake, but not our country pony. If anyone could convince Accord to stop and consider what he's really doing, it's her. After all, he deals in very strict terms and so he wouldn't be able to reconcile the idea that the most honest pony was trying to deceive him.

    We'll see next month as the 50th issue draws this story to a close.

    Say hi to Mario, Princesses!

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!