• Let's Review: Legends of Magic #11

    We're fast approaching the conclusion of the Pillars of Equestria's quest. Let's see how they add a new member to their ranks and save themselves.

    Full review is after the break but tread carefully. This is a "Little Shop of Spoilers".

    I will say that this issue makes me feel a bit sad because of what lies on the horizon. One aspect of which is the fact that this is the penultimate issue. Having covered this series for close to a year, it's conclusion has snuck up on me and I realize I'll miss these stories. This has been a very enjoyable tale, though this issue presents some unique situations.

    "Who makes a heart-shaped lock like that?"

    Such events take place in the atmosphere of a treacherous greenhouse or the airy Canterlot gardens. Because of this, I noted a heavy presence of greens and blues throughout the issue. The pale and cool tones within the greenhouse convey foreboding, but the set up can be a troubling for characters like Rockhoof, Mage Meadowbrook, and Stygian. Characters with warmer coats like Flash Magnus and Somnambula get to stand out more. Physicality is a big part of this issue and so Tony Fleecs gets to present the ponies often engaging in action moves. Despite equine anatomy, I love seeing them take action poses.

    Crouching Rockhoof.
    Hidden Mistmane

    When I first read through the greenhouse sections I thought it had Tardis-like properties, but upon following reads I realized it wasn't bigger on the inside. Fleecs packs a great amount of detail into a narrow space to create a sense of size but the layout is actually very realistic.

    Somnambula's role this issue is mostly commentary
    and being the group's flashlight.

    Speaking of realism, let's talk about a basic fact: glass is fragile. I'm showing such keen insight, aren't I? But this is the challenge with the opening conflict. Stygian is quick to piece together that something is wrong with the greenhouse and puts his team to work gaining entry. Despite Rockhoof's assaults and Flash Magnus dive-bombing the place, not a single pane cracks.

    We also get to see Flash Magnus' competitive nature undermine him.

    Even with the plants within buttressing the doors and hatches, I become distracted by the idea that not one of these mighty characters can overcome glass. Given the time frame I doubt we're witnessing polycarbonates or anything super-resilient.  I can accept fantastic notions like lumber bears, winged serpents, dream mummies, and super-powered bunnies. Yes, I actually just wrote that last sentence. But show me standard glass repelling kicks from a super-buff stallion or dive-bombing pegasus, and suddenly my concept of simple glass is challenge. Suspension of disbelief lies in accepting a premise, like the existence of magic. If it asks that I turn off a notion of reality then I find it's asking too much.

    You might say he's branching out.
    Maybe they should just leaf.

    Yet during this struggle we see Stygian taking command of the team and coordinating their efforts. This leads to the sadness I mentioned earlier. I've grown to like Stygian and knowing what I do from Shadow Play I realize that all this is about to be taken away. Even his comrade's respect for his role as leader will be usurped.

    Looking back at Shadow Play,
    it makes sense that Rockhoof would be
    the one to recount their tragedy. 

    Though the struggle against the glass panes and plants feels forced, this issue does drive home how each of the Pillars' diverse talents makes the team stronger. When brute force and optimist cheering don't win the day, a clever deception grants them entry. Sadly, this wit is undone by one addled wit who suffers from a case of name confusion.

    Ah, pony Flash. You never had a chance to show your best.

    There are also panels where Rockhoof says he's a guard of the "Great Helm" and Flash Magnus calls Somnambula "Cleopatrot". Both fighters just had their wits addled, so I don't know if this mix up was intentional or an accident. Either way, I find these panels fascinating because of what I expect from the audience. Going by past experience, people point to typos or mismatches and declare "They don't care" or "They're not trying!" When I look at this little slip or the Austrialian DVD typo I just smile. It's actually reassuring that even products for big-name companies can sometimes miss a letter or get confused with all the elaborate names. To be sure, it's good to strive to catch these flaws but being able to laugh about them is also important.

    I'm sure he'll be able to laugh about this.
    But woe to any who mention it first!

    Inside the greenhouse we experience a reversal. The plants have greater numbers and strength and thus wit won't amount to much. It's up to Stygian and Rockhoof to win the moment through sheer effort and strength. Again, the group's diversity is the key to victory. That, and the knowledge that Mistmane can speak to both plants and animals. Makes me wonder if Fluttershy might learn some new tricks.

    Getting a Poison Ivy vibe here.

    I wondered with the last issue whom Mistmane would have to say goodbye before their fateful clash. It turns out that she has knowledge of the land thanks to the plants and animals, and thus her connection with them will one day be cut. That's been the tragic undercurrent throughout this story, as is the fact that Mistmane acknowledges Stygian as the group's leader. A shame he does not.

    Technically, he's sticking to cobblestones...
    Unless he wore all the grass away?

    This becomes apparent as the group arrives in Canterlot. Despite my fervent hopes, none of them says "It's only a model." Yet this is a watershed moment. Stygian learned about the other Pillars thanks to Starswirl's writings. They are living legends but to Stygian, Starswirl is both a legend and guide. As he meets with his hero, the courage and drive that led him to meet all the other Pillars begins to ebb. He doesn't realize that while Starswirl may have cataloged their legends, it was Stygian who actually sought them out. Stygians flaw is that he's so wrapped up in the image of these heroes that he doesn't acknowledge his own accomplishments. He needn't do this out of arrogance, but simple self-affirmation.

    It's funny because Flash Magnus is wrong!

    Knowing that Starswirl will unintentionally usurp Stygian's role, I expected him to be as sour and arrogant as in the show. While he is terse, Starswirl acknowledges this flaw and explains that trying to mentor two alicorn princesses takes it toll. Given what we saw in the first issue I find I'm sympathetic. Starswirl isn't malicious, but his own flaw is that he'll come to buy into his own legend and assume he's the one with all the answers.

    Save it for the convention, guys!

    So we close out this chapter with the Pillars finally assembling. I'm assuming that the finale is their clash with the Sirens and only a hint of the tragedy to follow. We do have an annual comic to anticipate, but I'm going to be sorry to see this series end. This issue starts out rough with a challenge that feels more engineered, but it does show how the group's members compliment one another and there is a sense that everything has come full circle. I'm looking forward to next month's issue and I can say that this month's is worth the investment.

    One does question how well plants understand anatomy.

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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