• Let's Review: MLP #67

    This issue suffered a delay last week, but how fitting? A pony known for fireworks gets her comic on the 4th of July!

    What is Tempest's goal and what's her beef with Princess Cadance? Find out after the break!

    But be warned. We're entering the Crystallized Spoilers Empire.

    So last time we saw Tempest, she'd just rejoined the herd. Problem is, starting a new life is rarely a smooth process. Since Emily Blunt's talents are likely beyond the show's budget, we look to the comics to continue the tale.
    These two ponies are not vital to the story so I get they don't get a lot of detail. 
    Though I find it curious when we encounter monochrome characters.

    I've been excited for this story since hearing the teaser. Not only does it continue the tale of an interesting character, but it's written by Jeremy Whitley and illustrated by Andy Price. Both of whom I hold in high regard.

    What if 90% of Ponyville is just
    extra barns?

    The Tempest in this story is a bit softer than her movie counterpart. The resemblance is clear, but she has more rounded features which reflects that she's eased up on her harsher world view. Yet she continues to wear the Storm King's armor because... well, we don't know what her real cutie mark looks like. Yet I think this also compliments the idea that Tempest (not yet willing to go by her old name) isn't sure how much of her old self she should release. Physically speaking, she wants to keep that armor as a safeguard, both physically and emotionally.

    Small "whoops" moment. 
    Tempest has lost her horse shoes.

    One of the more interesting aspects of Price's artwork is his use of charcoal. I tend to think of most comics drawn using only inks, but Price uses this texture for both the landscape and even Princess Cadance's features. The end result is something more interesting than solid lines. It's done sparingly but once you keep an eye out I find that the impact is distinct.

    Good comparison shot.
    Check out the lines of the left versus those on the right.

    Of course, there's a wealth of expressions, background references, and the ever-present Watcher pony. All staples of Price's artwork. One extra touch I appreciate is the hand-drawn cutie marks. I've commented in the past that digitally-imposed cutie marks can look out of place. It's a simpler process that saves on time, but that's why I appreciate that Price does so by hand. I once heard him comment at Babscon that he was relieved when Twilight got wings. It gave him a means to cover her mark. And it's true. Look over any panel featuring Twilight Sparkle and see how often you can spot her cutie mark.

    But I won't visit for at least two more seasons!

    Speaking of our central character, she's barely in this! Twilight's role is to wish Tempest well as she goes on a journey of re-discovery. Tempest is a pony driven by a need for excitement and haunted by unresolved anger. A tough mix in the peaceful, friendly land of Equestria.
    Aspen! You invaded Canterlot as well.
    How's about some empathy?

    In many ways, Tempest becomes a proxy for critics of both the setting and characters like Cadance. This gets a little awkward as I've been a vocal critic of Cadance before. Yet this comic does a much better job of presenting her as a leader. After Tempest gets a tip to head to the Crystal Empire, three pages are devoted to her critiquing Cadance and her role in Equestria. To her credit, Cadance does not withdraw from this commentary nor does she become aggressive. However, I'm not sure her mini-lecture counter's Tempest's words.

    Okay, I feel like I'm being baited. 
    Are you baiting me, comic?

    Tempest has lived a life of hard choices and often violence. Cadance represents much of Equestria's "softness". While the country prioritizes emotional development, military force and security is left unaddressed. Tempest isn't wrong when she cites how easy it was to steamroll Canterlot and I think she makes some good points. The virtues the ponies represent won't defend Equestria, and yet it's these traits that explain why Equestria is worth protecting. Tempest keeps thinking she has no place within this pastel world, but the truth is she is very much needed. It's the concept of "might for right", if Tempest is willing to give herself credit.

    Friendship parties aren't your thing, Tempest.
    Artillery, on the other hoof...

    I think the Crystal Empire's princess knows this. Cadance's talk about her capacity to love doesn't really address this deficiency, but it does hint at her ability to understand how Tempest's experiences affect her viewpoint. She recognizes an individual's needs and strengths, is aware of issues within her responsibility, and matches the two accordingly. This is the kind of presentation for Cadance I can celebrate because it's showing her being proactive, intelligent, and innovative.

    Flurry Heart for "Princess of Explosions"!
    I endorse this!

    Though I wonder if Tempest's paranoia bestows Cadance with false omniscience. The frontier patrol Tempest is meant to support? Her old friend Glitter Drops. Tempest suspects that Cadance arranged this, just as Twilight liked to set up "friendship traps". Or it might be an exceptional coincidence.

    Too bad there isn't a Princess of Therapy.
    Tempest needs a few years' worth.

    The first half of this issue shows Tempest re-adjusting. Though shunned in some places, she's able to get by and leave on good terms with others. Glitter's appearance shows Tempest's buried side. Anger is not easily compartmentalized. It infects areas outside the original harm. Tempest's anger at their history impacts her ability to work as a team and pushes her thrill-seeking to dangerous extremes.

    Dude! Uncalled for!

    I went into this comic having avoided The Stormy Road to Canterlot. It is an option, but I wanted to see how well this comic stood on its own. Thanks to some flashbacks and Tempest's inner monologue I think this comic is nicely self-sufficient. Even if you haven't seen the movie itself there's enough context offered to keep people in the loop.

    A memory she can bear-ly stand!
    I'm not apologizing.

    Glitter Drops is an character with little known backstory, yet a lot interesting choices. Tempest notes that under different circumstances, it'd be Glitter with the broken horn or worse. A large part of Tempest's anger has to do with the fact that Glitter wasn't the victim, and she doesn't even seem self-aware. Yet I look at the context and wonder. Here is Glitter, working on the unknown frontier and looking out for ponies who might be at risk from dangerous creatures. Much like Fizzlepop.

    Have at you, fish!
    I know you're behind all this.

    Glitter may not be as guilt-ridden as Tempest would prefer, but I think her actions show she took a lot of that experience to heart. I'm curious to see if they'll explore this more in the second part.

    Anyone who thinks Tempest cannot be cute
    has not yet viewed this panel.

    This first part is a treat. Great artwork, every character enjoys a strong showing, and Tempest is an enjoyable figure to both explore and criticize Equestria. We see her strengths paired with her weaknesses, and there's a strong hint of what she could become for good or ill. I'm eager to see what part 2 holds.

    Always love how Price draws
    facial muscles.

    Come to think of it, the delay for this issue shortens the wait on the next. Sounds good to me!

    How come I haven't seen alicorn Tempest artwork?
    She'd be an awesome Princess of Military Air Supremacy.

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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