• Let's Review: Friends Forever #6

    Let's keep this post on the down-low. I'm trying to avoid over-hyping Seth.

    Yes, before Trixie made a comeback in season 6 the comics really were her main venue. This was her first foray into Friends Forever alongside Rainbow Dash. Plus a species we've not seen in a long time.

    How did the two ponies handle this dog-eat-dog world? Click below to find out but watch out for spoilers!

    By Friends Forever #6, I think we'd run the gamut of highs and lows. While issues 2 to 5 had shown the potential, #6 came as the comic line started to become more familiar.

    This issue features Agnes Garbowska's distinct watercolor style. Her art is never lacking for details and she's tasked with drawing a kingdom we've never seen in the show. She seemed to have a lot of fun with this but we'll tackle the designs as the story unfolds. In the shorter term it's worth noting the idea of atmospheric perspective. That's an art technique where objects become paler and less defined the further away they appear. This helps create the illusion of depth in a drawing or painting.

    Provided by Wikimedia Commons

    Garbowska does make efforts to create atmospheric perspective in her pieces, especially in the ground. Often it appears like there's a light shining upon our heroines and the ground transitions to darker colors as the eye moves towards the horizon. However, this doesn't often happen in tighter areas like cities or towns, so buildings look like they're much closer. A good example of this is the very first page, which also sets an odd story tone.

    How dare she have confidence!
    Most unorthodox!

    Ponies are frowning at Rainbow Dash's swagger... or saunter. Hard to tell. Either way, she's pleased with herself and some ponies disapprove. This includes her friends who are eager to know that she's been invited to perform in Dimondia. Yet as she departs on a day-long journey they mostly seem sarcastic about this invitation. It doesn't strike me as jealousy, but Rainbow hasn't done anything to warrant this sarcasm.

    I know Rainbow has ground their gears before, but this seems too cynical.

    I think this is meant to call back to Boast Busters and the ponies' short patience for Trixie. Many fans wondered why Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash were so peeved (pardon my language!). Same question applies here. A pony being proud doesn't instantly translate into grating on others. She isn't putting other ponies down to make herself look better. Rainbow is just happy to be recognized for her skill.

    Or so she thinks. Turns out the summons came from Trixie, the new queen of Dimondia.

    I'd take that cottage in the lower-right. It looks nice.

    Visually, Diamondia is a more traditional-looking town. Something you might expect to see in our world. That's not a criticism as there's nothing wrong with creating a recognizable layout. Yet Rainbow Dash mentions that the kingdom is kind of a fixer-upper and I'm not seeing it. It looks very pleasant.

    I love it when the comics go new places.
    The trade off is to understand that these appearances 
    are likely in conflict with the show's.

    This highlights a big demand on comic artists. Several times they've had to draw locals not featured in the show. Phillydelphia, the dragon town, Yakyakistan's interior, etc. Often times these new settings look more true to our world while I think the show would go for a more stylized look. However, the show has a full production staff while comic book artists are a solo run. I don't blame the comic artists for leaning more on real life setups while trying to produce the full comics.

    Now, now, Rainbow. Resist the urge to be speciesist.

    The same can be said for the Diamond Dog residents. Many of them look like the trio from A Dog and Pony show. Probably sticking close to the show's look to help increase recognition. The biggest design variation is a Diamond Dog attendant named Jim who appears to be modeled after a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

    That puppy is the cutest thing, but I found the photo on a page about the 20 stinkiest dogs.

    This attendant knows just what to say to appeal to Rainbow's ego. May have had some advice from Queen Trixie. Oh, sorry! Queen Trixianna the First. Not seeing a Lulamoon attached to that title...

    Turns out Trixie managed to con her way into the position but it quickly turned sour. Not sure why. Like the ponies attitudes towards Rainbow, it's up to our own imagination. The big connection between these two is not necessarily friendship. Both are egotistical and show ponies. Both require an audience. Both are a shade of blue. I think it was these traits that inspire this duo. We don't really witness them bond over something more.

    That's not to say they don't play off one another well. The best thing about egotistical characters is that they tend to play well off others, either as a foil or competition.

    Ego bump!

    Trixie wants out but an invisible barrier is locking her in. I love how Garbowska draws Trixie pressed up against an invisible wall. It's comical on its own and makes me wish that I could see this animated. I also can't help but think Rainbow tested it a few more times than necessary.

    All I can think on is an episode of Third Rock From the Sun where the cast had to deal with an invisible wall.

    Rainbow's tempted to leave Trixie to her karma, but she decides to stay and help. I don't know if this should be filed under E for "Element of Loyalty". Despite her bravado, Rainbow is a good pony at heart even though she and Trixie aren't usually on friendly terms. So Rainbow learns that Trixie's crown is more like a leash and won't come off until the Diamond Dogs lose faith in her. Unfortunately, they're too dumb to be suspicious.

    Idiot Savant: A person who is considered to be mentally handicapped 
    but displays brilliance in a specific area, especially one involving memory.

    Here's where we divert to a little storytelling trick that is often mentioned: the plan. If a character describes their plan before its execution, then the audience expects something to go wrong. To do otherwise is remove genuine conflict from the story. In this case, we only know that the two of them have a plan. So we get to discover it along with the Diamon Dogs (now re-branded Mush Dogs who hunt mushrooms) and we get to see their rising displeasure followed by Trixie's exit.

    By comic's end we return to the status quo. Trixie hasn't learned to keep out of trouble. Rainbow has not learned a lesson in humility. They were a more cohesive team than Zecora and Fluttershy, but there's nothing new for either character.

    Stay tuned for the next episode of That's Our Trixie!

    The Diamond Dogs were a fun group and offered some humor, both in stupid and idiot savant expressions. Trixie and Rainbow are a decent duo as neither hogs the spotlight while having their flaws on full display. I can't say I appreciate either character more after this comic, but it did give them a fair show. The Friends Forever line was more secure and it's become a consistent monthly title for a good while.

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!