• Let's Review: Friends Forever #8

    Road Trip! It's time for a look down memory lane as Rarity and Applejack tried to traverse Equestria without killing one another.

    I've been on flights like that.

    Check out the review after the break, but watch out! Hitchhikers may be escaped spoilers.

    A comic starring Applejack and Rarity, my favorite odd duo? Written by Katie Cook and drawn by Andy Price? Oh, IDW, it's like you know me.

    That yarn will stare into your soul!

    Cook and Price were my favorite duo for a long time and to this day their works are still some of my favorites. This comic in particular. It begins with a simple premise: have Applejack and Rarity share a road trip. Let things evolve from there with a little helpful nudging.

    The thing about Rarity and Applejack stories is that they demand extreme reactions from one another. Price's artwork is perfect for this. The energy he puts into ponies expressions, from joy to hostility, really propels this story and keeps the audience engaged. Even without words a few panels is all he needs to show escalation.

    Okay, technically "gasp" counts as a word.
    But I think it could work without it.

    So this comic, semi-officially named Reins, Trains, and Carts with Wheels, features Applejack being invited to see the West Coast Oranges to talk about expanding their businesses. Though the Apple Family doesn't enjoy a lot of panel time, there are some memorable jokes. Take for example the plight of Big MacIntosh and basic homecare.

    That took care of the problem all right. Whatever it was.

    Rarity invites herself to come along and see the sights, instantly setting up the tension between the two. Practical Applejack is focused solely on business while Rarity's excitement undermines her efforts. Applejack mentions more than a few times that, as a business owner, Rarity should understand her intent but Rarity is the kind to mix business and pleasure, something Applejack herself couldn't understand. The tables slowly turn, however, as Applejack's simple style offends Rarity's business sense.

    Personal space? What's that?

    I said that this story evolved with some helpful nudging. Perhaps a better term would have been "spiteful acts of a merciless deity". The traveling twosome encounter the worst possible luck but also find some plot-convenient help along the way. There are times I hoped to see Ms Piggy pop up and say, "What an unbelievable coincidence."

    Rarity and Applejack: giving pegasi identity crisis in style!

    Yet it never breaks the story because part of the fun is watching where these two wind up and what they'll do next. It'd be a crime to do a play-by-play of each event because this is better experienced first-hand. I think some will find the setups too manufactured to suspend their disbelief, but I found it very easy to roll with the story and just get swept up. Again, Andy Price's artwork fits perfectly with Cook's writing, one enhancing the other.

    Really? You crush that same taxi ever show?

    Oddly, the biggest downside comes not from what happens in this comic but what it sets up. In the final leg of their journey, Applejack and Rarity's stagecoach gets ambushed by the Cattle Rustler Gang. A bit of a play on words since they themselves are bulls.

    Don't worry about remembering their names.
    Longhorn is the only relevant one.

    They're also the chief antagonist for the two part The Good, The Bad, and the Ponies arc. It's a strange contrast. I'd point to this comic as one of Cook/Price's best works while the longer arc is much more criticized. So that's not really a negative for this comic, but it forms a link to show a difference. This comic allows two characters to play off one another and show their best through contrast. By comic's end I can't say I see a greater insight into their characters, but I can point to this comic as an example of how well they interact.

    The Good, The Bad, and the Ponies is a review for another day that shows what happens when you try to force characters to act a certain way.

    Don't remind me!

    This is in my top five for Friends Forever and I'd readily recommend it to anyone. It also features a quick two-page story written and drawn by Katie Cook. Winona doesn't get a lot of love and as a dog fan I can say I enjoy this tale if only for the fact I think any pet owner will see a part of themselves and their relationship with their pup in Winona and Applejack.

    I can never stay mad at a puppy.

    A fun comic of contrasts thanks to a delightful duo. I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!