• Let's Review: Legends of Magic #12

    Every month, for a year, I have reviewed an issue in this series. It has been an enjoyable run and so I write this review with some sadness.

    But our heroes are coming to the end of the quest and the start of their downfall. How did we get from the journey to meet heroes to one pony's fall into darkness?

    Check out the full review after the break, but beware the spoilers! And no, I'm not just talking about what we already saw in Shadow Play.

    Before diving into the main story I must make a correction. Last month I thought that Rockhoof's name mix-up was a simple typo.

    Odd that Magnus didn't correct him.
    "Hey, that sounds like a cool name!"

    However, I'd forgotten that getting Flash's name wrong has been a running gag for Rockhoof, and that he's made some fun references for DC fans.

    Does that mean that encountering Magnus was a "Flashpoint"?

    Definitely my bad but it highlights an idea. This six-part story has been about Stygian meeting the Pillars. How the pillars interact with one another is more a side-story. We see how Rockhoof and Meadowbrook may have a connection. Somnambula is the team encouragement and Flash Magnus likes to compete, but all of them are drawn in by Stygian. Mistmane hasn't been on the team long enough to demonstrate how she fits.

    "I thought you'd all be taller!
    Except you, Rockhoof. Did not disappoint."

    All of this narrows to focus to how Stygian and Starswirl the Bearded interact. If Stygian can gain the respect of the land's most accomplished sorcerer and complete the troupe. This is the only time in the quest where Stygian is unable to forge a connection. The opportunity was there at the end of the last issue as they compared views on the historical figures, but that's the problem.

    Nice to see Celestia showing concern...
    In the most bratty way possible.

    None of the other pillars knew of one another and thus every new encounter was the same as meeting Stygian. Starswirl has prior knowledge of each, and thus his own version of being star-struck blinds him to the unknown Stygian. This how the group breaks. Instead of integrating with everyone, Starswirl's chronicling of all their deeds from issues 2 through 6 means he ignores Stygian for the entire trip.

    Dang, dude!

    It's the first time Stygian hasn't been a part of the process and so he's forced into an observer's role. Problem is that he's not about chronicling these events. This his home, his responsibility and the largest part of his investment. This series has done a lot to encourage me enjoy Stygian and sympathize with how it's all slipping away.

    I love that his oldest friends of the group
    are the first to stand up for him.

    Though to his credit, Starswirl is not a malicious pony. He has invested his ego in his profession and suffers tunnel vision. Everything he says makes a kind of sense–even the assertion that ponies do not change–but it also closes him off to the others feedback. The remaining Pillars do their best to involve Stygian but sadly he too is defaulting to his perceived hero.

    I say meet your heroes, get the disappointment out of the way,
    then meet them again as fellow, fallible people.

    I don't agree with the "never meet your heroes" concept. You should meet them but with the understanding that they're fallible. The ideals they embody are bigger than any one person and we all fall short in some way. Stygian could have seen that Starswirl was wise but not omniscient and realized its okay if he doesn't always have the answer. Sadly, he makes the same mistake as many others and defines himself by what he is lacking. When you do that, all you end up with is nothing.

    In some ways this lesson parallels Spike's lesson in "Equestrian Games".

    The battle with the dazzlings is where the artwork for this issue shines. From the Pillars entering the fray to the Dazzlings glowing with evil magic, it all matches the quest's climax. The battle is short but I don't mind this. The journey has been about Stygian and his development. The Dazzlings were an impetus but not the focus. The most interesting art choice is the setting sun as the heroes speak before the battle. Even as they're about to remove one threat, a greater darkness is creeping in.

    I love the entire composition of this panel, from the darkening light to the look upon Stygian.

    It is worth noting that the discussion of redemption versus elimination is awkward thanks to the Dazzlings. At the time this comic is published, the Dazzlings have not been redeemed and even Twilight and company couldn't reform them. Perhaps that will change but for now they remain in that small group of unreformed villains. This fact undermines the argument that Starswirl was wrong. Perhaps he had reach the right and only conclusion but for the wrong reasons.

    A shame the Pillars never tried to tempt them away
    with Taco Tuesday.

    Sunburst makes a return to put a conclusion to this story and open the door to next month's Annual. I can't say I agree with his view that Starswirl is Equestria's greatest villain. A villain, by definition, would have done all this by malicious intent. It is true that many of Equestria's troubles could be traced back to his decisions, but that's the domain of unintended consequences. Starswirl is a caution that no one person has a perfect view of the world. The whole reason Stygian sought the Pillars is because a diverse team, from different walks of life and varying skills, is more flexible and effective than a single champion.

    Sunburst! I almost forgot you were a part of this shindig!

    Although the comic promises a conclusion in the Annual, I find this is a pretty solid end cap. It's a fitting and well done end to this six-issue arc and an excellent close to the series overall. If you've been holding off to see if this series is any good, I say it's worth the investment.

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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