• Let's Review: Friends Forever #9

    No new comic this week, but that won't stop us from taking a look back!

    Let's have a view back at Granny Smith mending a rift between brothers. 

    Check out the review after the break, but watch out! Flim and Flam will try to sell you spoilers.

    So after sending her granddaughter on a wild apple chase in Friends Forever #8, Granny Smith gets to star in her own issue alongside the Flim Flam Brothers. I don't envy the Brothers, as comic Granny Smith is often a lot more hostile than her cartoon self.

    To be fair, this how most "normal" people react to cosplayers.
    But personally I think that "normal people" are just an urban legend.

    This is taking Friends Forever #27 into account as well. If given the center stage, Granny Smith often seems more cantankerous. Sure, her cartoon appearances often show her scowling over modern contraptions or Rainbow Dash trying to shove her across the street, but that's contextual. In the comics, she seems to default to sourness and looks for a reason later.

    This issue's raison d'ĂȘtre is the way Apple Con has gone down hill. That's right, Equestria has its own fruit convention. Oh, it started out with just one bit of produce, but Granny's a sour apple over the infiltration of oranges and berries into the mix. This immediately raises two pointless questions.

    1. Is either Aunt or Uncle Orange Granny Smith's child? If so, how does this affect their relationship.

    2. Does the United States have an Apple convention? That's harder to answer because the average "Apple Convention" Google Search turns up Steve Jobs' legacy. I did find this, however:

    It's hard to keep produce conferences fresh!

    Tony Fleecs often shows his talent at conventions, but rarely does he get to draw them. I think this comic is worth a look if only for a two-page spread of Applecon and its attendees. I'd wager that more than 90% of the ponies shown in this image can be named by either the show or the fandom, and there are plenty of comic, meme, and show references to boot. This setting never feels underpopulated or barren because Fleecs puts tremendous energy into making sure it's populated.

    Is it wrong that I'm only focusing on the banana stand?

    Heather Breckel adds to the atmosphere with vivid color choices. She relies more on sepia hues for flashbacks, adding an old-time feel that becomes more monochrome the further back one looks. Just compare Flim and Flam's flashback to Granny Smith's. There's a very distinct difference.

    How does one count on hooves beyond two?

    The only downside I imagine is the occasional digital image. Usually it takes the form of cutie marks that have been imposed on ponies' flanks, but it's also visible on the "Apple Peelcore 8000" that Flim and Flam are trying to sell. Against Fleecs' organic drawings, you can tell which parts have been digitally imposed. I can't say it's noticeable unless you're really looking, but once you see it becomes impossible to ignore.

    See the images on the boxes and Golden Harvest's cutie mark?
    Looks digital to me.

    Despite this dissonance, the visuals really sell this story. That's not to say that the actual storyline is lacking, but it be easy to dismiss it as predictable.

    Granny spends a good chunk of her time doing what most older con goers enjoy: complaining about all these dang kids!

    I've honestly seen people act like this. Granted, it was a wedding that shared the same hotel as an anime convention.
    That was one scary bridezilla.

    That is until she encounters Flim and Flam working opposite ends of the convention without their usual zeal. This comic makes overt references to The Supser Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 and Leap of Faith. Granny calls Flim out on both and Applejack warns her grandmare not to get involved. The Flim Flam brothers have duped her twice and nearly cost her home and her life.

    That foal in the right corner? Definitely future farmer.
    Just look at that excitement!

    That changes when Granny Smith learns the brothers had a falling out. It seems both fell for a mare named Marian, who is a librarian. This is a wonderful nod to The Music Man, the movie that inspired the Flim Flam Brothers' presentation. The two were so enamored with this mare that they began to compete for her affection. When stallions compete, it tends to get nasty.

    This is one of those rare times the horse nature is emphasized.

    Thus the brothers have split up, neither winning Marian's affections, and their days as joint con-stallions are done.

    Dang it, Angel! Stop seeing mares behind Fluttershy's back!

    Doubtless many are thinking of Viva Las Pegasus, even though this comic came out well before. It's interesting to note the similarities and differences. Both feature a new local with a ton of background characters. Both feature the Flim Flam brothers on the outside while an Apple family member has to mend the rift. This comic features a more natural falling out between the brothers while Viva Las Pegasus had a sociopathic villain who enjoyed driving the two apart.

    Such a fun bad guy.

    Ultimately I find my enjoyment of Gladmane's wickedness puts the show slightly above the comic. Plus, that episode has Fluttershy. I will not entertain any counter-argument. It's Fluttershy.

    Looking at this screenshot out of context, I'm amazed neither Fluttershy nor Marian called the cops.

    Yet there's much to celebrate this comic as Granny Smith tricks the brothers into a discussion. For starters, she doesn't have to do this. If anything, ponies in Equestria might be better off if Flim and Flam weren't conning the countryside. Yet we know from Applejack that her kin hold family sacred, and reading this comic it's easy to see where she learned that.

    Time to grab these unicorns by the horns!

    There are several lessons to impart in this story. Not to let squabbles break up family. Not to let the pursuit of a new relationship ruin older bonds. Bros before... female ponies.

    But most of all, I like the lesson that Granny embodies. She has every right to resent the brothers and no one would blame her for sitting back and letting them stay separated. Yet at the end of the day, what is more important? Your convictions or payback? Granny Smith stuck to what was most important. This means accepting that she's partly culpable for whatever scam they next pull. However, she also gave them a chance to do something more with their lives without dictating terms. I won't totally blame her for their failings, since ultimately we're all responsible for our own choices.

    While Granny might be partly to blame,
    ultimately this is the brother's own poor choice.

    Plus, Granny got to show some of her best by calling on experience. This is one of the things I most enjoy about characters with long history, including Princess Celestia. Experience and insight often go together and since most of the cast is still very young, I enjoy when older characters can offer some guidance.

    Family is important, but hating oranges is paramount!

    I can't say this offers insight on Flim and Flam, who are in many ways backseat characters to Granny Smith. If anything, I'd call this the Granny Smith Micro since she's the most proactive and standout individuals. Because of this I can't say that it's in my top ranks of Friends Forever, but I do view it as a wonderful story with great artwork and some nice morals.

    I'd say give it a read and enjoy the references, the characters, and the humor.

    I love the visuals here.
    Wait, is that Flash Sentry?
    Lemme get my torch!

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!