• Let's Review: Friends Forever #25

    The newest issue from IDW has been pushed back til next week, but that just gives me a chance to wrap up my retrospective on Friends Forever.

    Rainbow Dash's wings have been taken and it's up to her and Twilight to get them back. Get ready for magic, punching, and some questionable morals.

    Check out the full review, with some spoilers, after the break!

    This feels kind of weird. I started writing reviews on Equestria Daily around the time Friends Forever #26 came out. So through new releases and going over the backlog, this has brought me full circle. Unfortunately, this issue falls pretty far on my list due to the ideas behind it.

    I've seen birds do that to windows. 
    This is funnier.

    Artwork is not one of those reasons. Brenda Hickey tackles the introduction of new characters, action, and some big scares for Twilight and Rainbow Dash with zeal. I never felt like the ponies were stagnant, even when simply talking. Their attitudes and emotions come through in their poses. In particular I felt for Rainbow as it looked like she'd lose her wings forever. 
    Wow, that is almost as depressing as seeing Pinkie Pie
    drink her own tears. Go watch Pinkie Pride.

    The designs of the three antagonists are fun and distinct, yet strangely not memorable. I think it has to do more with their presentation within the story than any visual design. It's clear from their looks that these ponies go against the Equestrian norm. Zappityhoof is a very aggressive shade of red that stands out against her white mane. Decepticolt's bangs and eye makeup give a very gothic look alongside her blue-themed coat and mane. Goldcap shares the same styling around her eyes, making me wonder if she is either related to Decpticolt by blood or perhaps by relationship. Yet I wonder more about how she got her mane to look like she'd been electrocuted. 

    Military tactics are not a thing in Equestria.
    Just ask the royal guard.

    These new villains have done the unthinkable and the unbelievable by stealing Rainbow Dash's wings. Apparently they did it with some skill as Rainbow awakens one morning to simply find them gone. They must have struck while she was already asleep since she has no memory of being intact. 

    Rainbow gets some of the best expressions in the IDW-verse.

    To Rainbow's credit she is somehow able to steer a cloud towards Twilight's castle without wing power. This will be her most impressive feat for most of the comic as a majority of the conflict features magical muscle. That's Twilight's role.

    Opening the window? That sounds like
    something a non-magical powerhouse would do.

    Magic in Equestria seems very subjective. From what I've observed its only limits appear to be the caster's knowledge and their energy reserves. I tend to liken it to muscle strength. There is a set limit on how much you can take on, but that limit is not always expressed in hard numbers. Yes, a weight-lifter can tell you their max, but that might not be the true limit of their strength. 

    That sounds incredibly useful. 
    Pity she'll never use it again.

    Because of this ambiguous setup I can't say that Twilight's arsenal of magic is unjustified. I can say that it feels like a shortcut as she determines the cause and culprits for Rainbow's wing loss. It seems that these three unicorns intend to soak Rainbow's wings in both the noon sun and twilight (making for some fun name jokes later) before dissolving them and drinking a potion to turn them all into alicorns.

    Always play to your strengths.
    Because no one else is going to play fair.

    Let us pause for a moment to bask in this situation's darkness. These three unicorns effectively drugged, abducted, and performed mutilation on a pegasus. If they were to succeed I imagine it would only be a matter of time until their secret became known. It wouldn't just be pegasi on the menu, however. I imagine some ponies would love to sport a unicorn horn.

    That is one of the most unique sound effects I've ever read.

    What we have here is an act that could unbalance the harmony of the three tribes. Ambitious ponies would start to view their neighbors as available parts, and even more modest ponies might begin to dream dark goals. None of this occurs to the three thieves, who are too busy envisioning their new, popular lives. Their ambitions are small and petty but the consequences are far-reaching. 

    One wonders how these unicorns met and forged such a plan.
    I'm guessing they were in adjacent padded cells.

    So to stop this doomsday scenario, Twilight and Rainbow must work together. No mention of gathering the other Mane Six members, which could be explained with a few sentences. They just need to be away at other commitments. Maybe reference other Friends Forever issues to set up a timeline. Continuity can be your friend!

    Someone's been hanging around Pinkie too much!

    Their downfall is that Rainbow wants Twilight to take on her aerial role while Dash tries the Earth pony approach. Given that neither have great experience in these roles so it's no surprise they fail. What is a surprise is that even with Twilight's magical knowledge she still ends up ensnared in a mutli-colored net. Like I said, there's no set limits beyond a vague concept.

    Fools! Three more pages and we could have made
    camo Twilight a Target exclusive!

    The thieves cement themselves as awful ponies as they taunt their victim but then their boasting takes an odd turn. When Twilight tries to reason with them, they argue that she got her wings through magic and who is to say those wings weren't stolen? This argument is so flimsy, lacking any evidence beyond their selfish projections, that I'm amazed Twilight even gives it more than a few seconds' thought. 

    Freedom? Twilight has more responsibility than ever.
    You really did not think this through!

    Twilight's character feels off this issue for a variety of small reasons that stack. She seems fixated on the term "pseudo-corns" to the point where Rainbow has to scream about her lost wings. She's then very indecisive when challenged about her status and Celestia's actions. The Twilight I've witnessed is swift to action and quick to form a plan. Once an idea is in her head, you would need an unicorn army to shake it loose. Her ego is an obstacle but when she sees others in need that ego often falls away. The unfocused, flighty, and poor-resolve pony I see here doesn't seem to live up to Twilight's example. I get the sense that she's being brought low to make these lesser antagonists more a threat. 

    I'd have to blink because my eyes would need censoring.

    I think I worked out why I don't remember these three very well. Their designs are fun and they are goofy antagonists, but they are idiot savants. They have the knowledge and skill to create a wing-imbuing potion, but of all the ponies to pick they chose Twilight Sparkle's best friend. They can think of spells to catch Twilight, but not hold her. They have a plan for their own benefit shot-term but would likely set the world ablaze. They are only a threat until Twilight and Rainbow get serious and that only takes a few minutes. 

    Wonder twin powers, activate!

    Rainbow acknowledges that her action and experience is best tempered with Twilight's thought and magical talent. They shouldn't try to be someone else but instead bring their own best. So before you can say "Firestorm Matrix", they merge their consciousness and out-fly and out-magic the thieves. Thus the day, and Rainbow's wings are saved. And what punishment awaits these criminals? 

    Violence saves the day!

    A long walk home. Again, these three committed crimes that would earn them extended stay in a human prison and I suspect that ponies have some form of detention. Maybe an antechamber in Tartarus? 

    I could make so many wrong jokes here.
    Moving on!

    Whatever the case, these three antagonists never graduated beyond selfish fools. There's nothing about their characters to redeem and so Twilight's slap on the hoof feels underwhelming. It's to Rainbow and Twilight's credit that this experience has not made them bitter, but that doesn't mean they have to let these unicorns go free. There's nothing to hint that they won't try this again on another pegasus whenever their magic returns. Twilight is more inclined towards justice and would invest in correcting this behavior. Sadly, I don't think we'll get any followup to this scenario. 

    Wow, Decipticolt either has the best pouty face,
    or he's melting.

    There are a lot of things to like in this issue. Some great banter between Twilight and Rainbow. Plenty of action. And a new appreciation for the gift of flight. Yet the depiction of Twilight, the forgettable villains, and the unsettling resolution really drag this issue down. 

    I'm assuming this is not the Everfree Forest.
    But even then it feels like they're getting off easy.

    But that's the thing about a series. If it goes on long enough there will be some true gems and some stories that fall short. Next week should feature The Return of Tempest Shadow, but the next time we have a chance I'm going to look back at some of my favorite issues of Friends Forever.

    Shippers have dreams like this.
    Don't ask why.

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

    Silver Quill on Twitter