• Let's Review: MLP Deviations

    Have you ever paused to ask... what if?

    Like, what if Celestia were replaced by a giant artichoke with taped-on wings and horn? No? Just me?

    Well, let's have a look and see what might have happened if some other pony got central casting. Check out the review after the break, but ask yourself: what if there are spoilers?

    I've had minor experience with IDW's Deviations line from last year. I only read the Transformers issue that asked, "What if Optimus Prime Never Died"? It was a comic devoted to hero worship.

    So what happens in a comic that's at the opposite end of the spectrum? Devoted not to a hero but a louse without taking anything seriously? Answer is, a lot of fun!

    This comic features the return of Katie Cook to pony comics, if only for an issue. Though I will always appreciate the Cook–Price duo, I am grateful for Agnes Garbowska's art. The ponies are drawn even softer than in the show, which matches the comics jovial tone. The coloring is more a mixed bag. Garbowska and assistant Lauren Perry keep the focus on the ponies, but there's too little background detail. Since much of this occurs at night (eternal night, to be exact) the backgrounds are often varying violet tones. Thanks to the cast's diverse color palettes, they stand out well against this backdrop. Yet sometimes it looks like the ponies aren't truly in an environment, but set in front of a matte painting.

    There is a reason for this situation. And it makes kinda sense...

    But the real fun is in the expressions. Especially on Celestia, who starts out so optimistic and quickly jumps to "what have I done with my life?"

    Amazing Celestia didn't give into rage and become Nightmare Star over the years.

    Our "what if" scenario centers on a moment of absolute insanity as Celestia chooses not to take on Twilight Sparkle as her protege, but instead decides to nurture Prince Blueblood's untapped potential. This is, as several ponies and Blueblood point out, a very terrible idea.

    From the mouths of babes.

    Alternate history stories have always struck me as a grim setting. As we saw in The Cutie Re-Mark, the tale is often of how dark and terrible the world would be had this one event not happened. There's a simple reason for this: no one wants to hear a story about how much more awesome the world would be if we hadn't screwed it all up.

    I mean, imagine if someone revealed to you that we'd all be living in a Utopia under World President Lauren Faust and Vice President John de Lancie, if only you'd chosen paper bags instead of plastic. Would be a bit of a downer, wouldn't it?

    It's nice to see Inkwell and Kibitz again.

    So I wasn't sure what to make of this story as I started reading. This was going for laughs, which didn't fit past experience. Yet I quickly became enamored with the story because this story goes a very specific way: make Blueblood not just Twilight's opposite, but the Elements of Harmony's complete antithesis.

    Gone is the unassuming negotiator from Friends Forever #26. This Blueblood has no redeeming qualities beyond looks. He makes this abundantly clear through a full-page spread parodying the show's opening sequence. I'm not going to show that here because I really want y'all to go out and buy this.

    A nice reminiscence of The Best Night Ever.

    Whereas Twilight was sent to Ponyville to save the world, Blueblood is directed there to save Celestia's sanity. A prolonged diversion later, Blueblood finally arrives with his sociopathic pup, Bunny, to witness Nightmare Moon's invasion.

    The comic makes it clear that this isn't going to be a rehash of Friendship is Magic because Blueblood doesn't even bother to crack the book cover on the Elements of Harmony. He is completely devoted to himself, and so the story's focus shall remain thus.

    That book tastes like friendship.

    What follows is a series of misadventures as Blueblood completely opposes the wrong party. He's actually the embodiment of the "Enemy of my enemy" idea, and he's the double-enemy. It would be a crime to give away all the jokes in this comic. Each one seems to evolve on its own as Blueblood interacts with each of the Elements of Harmony and systematically destroys their spirits.

    Go on, AJ! Turn him into cider!

    It's never dark, even as Blueblood uses furry critters as shields. Think about that for a sec. This guy is so terrible that he'd use Fluttershy's friends to block magical bolts, but I just can't hate him for it. He's so unashamedly awful, but he's genuinely oblivious. There's a greater charm to that than real life people who think being intentionally awful will net them praise.

    Just gonna let this speak for itself.

    Despite the self-awareness, there is one serious aspect I notice. One of my criticisms for The Cutie Re-Mark is that all the alternate futures seem to be on rails. That even with Twilight gone, there's no indication that other made alternate choices. It's like the world hit the pause button until it could get to the relevant disaster.

    Oh Lightning Dust. I don't know where you stand anymore.

    Not so here. Ponyville's residents actively resist Nightmare Moon. Rarity has her own unique plan and Rainbow Dash leads the pegasi in an aerial counter-offensive. Both plans foiled by Blueblood, but it doesn't change the fact that they were proactive.

    Oh! Oh! No you didn't!

    The scene escalates until he's no longer antagonizing the Elements of Harmony, but rather their opponent. Of all the things one could say to Nightmare Moon, few could make her tremble more than, "You're as bad as him!"

    The horror!

    And that's where I shall leave off. Unlike many other alternate history stories, this one is not going for the dark or the gut punch. The goal here is to make you laugh by throwing in a counterpoint to everything this show is about. A narcissistic, cowardly, buffoon is the key to saving Equestria, and everyone else just has to deal with it.

    Mutual hatred is magic!

    Katie Cook also draws a mini-story after the main tale's resolution. It's likewise fun but much more focused on how irredeemable Blueblood acts. There's also a note from Cook explaining that she had considered making this story about his redemption, but chose to go the opposite route. I think that was an excellent choice. This story is more fun and light-hearted than if Blueblood had truly tried to be Twilight's replacement.

    Sometimes we appreciate goofiness for its own sake.

    Context? What's that?

    If there's any negatives to this comic, it's that it starts with Celestia makes a truly vapid decision. Given that she's rarely gotten a positive showing, it can raise the audience's defenses. By a similar notion, Nightmare Moon is not so threatening as she appeared in the show. One could argue her menace has been removed for comedy's sake.

    Yet I enjoyed this story for its humor and I'd readily recommend it. Give a look and have a laugh at what might have been.

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!