• Let's Review: MLP #72

    The quest for the perfect baked good begins!

    What memories await the Apple Family down this memory lane? Can Applejack match her mother's confectionery skill?

    Can I avoid shedding manly tears at another Pear Butter and Bright Mac story? Probably not. But find out after the break! Though you might be crying from spoilers. Manly spoiler tears.

    Ah, such a challenge! I don't just mean the manly tears thing. How to talk about a story that really isn't meant to be discussed plot-point-for-plot-point? There are some entries in the IDW lineup–usually one-shots–that don't lend themselves well to a play-by-play. My gosh, I'm using a lot of hyphens in this paragraph.

    Declaration of intent!

    Well, let's talk art first because that's a fun one. Agnes Garbowska fields this issue's visuals with much adorableness. She really captures the innocence of this tale as emotion carries the day. Without an explicit call for action this issue, Garbowska adds it to the scene. Ponies don't just walk through doors. They leap through with eager smiles. Just ask Applebloom.

    I wish people could enter a scene with that much enthusiasm.

    They aren't just expectant when sampling a pie. They're spellbound.

    A hush falls over the crowd...

    They don't just bake a pie. They... Well, Pinkie's involved so normal tactics went out the window.

    All of you, start ruing!
    Good. Now rue harder!

    In terms of physicality, there are some interesting choices. Garbowska depicts some actions as one would expect, such as using a pony's mouth to hold an object. In other cases the ponies seem to be walking upright while carrying an item or a few select activities. This isn't wrong since we've seen ponies do likewise within the show, but it's interesting that we see examples of both.

    The neck strength she's demonstrating.
    is awe-inspiring.

    We get a few new locations in this issue as the quest for ingredients unfolds. As is common in IDW issues, most of these places are grounded more in real-world designs. That is to say they are very simplistic designs though not lacking in coloring or shading. Yet if you compare these to drawings of Sweet Apple Acres or Sugarcube Corner, it's clear that there's less personality imbued.

    The stripes on the silo really flatten out the design.

    So I've already mentioned ingredients, baking, and Pear Butter. It should surprise no one that this is a story in which Applejack tries to connect to the past by matching her mother's apple pie recipe. No small task as this isn't a simple case of measurements and timing. Replicating this pie means exploring history. Tracing her mother's steps and further see the impact both she and Bright Mac had upon Ponyville.

    First hint: Buttercup's family.

    This companion piece to The Perfect Pear features different very different interactions. None of the ponies we see featured were close to Pear Butter or Bright Mac. They were businesses. Trading bits for goods. And yet the pair are remembered fondly for how they treated others.

    Nice to have Mrs. Cake offer some guidance on her old friend.

    Since their debut, I've seen many fans put forth theories on how Pear Butter and Bright Mac might still be alive. This is going to sound morbid, but I think they have the greatest impact if they are deceased. This comic is an example why.

    Might this become a game at the next
    Brony convention?

    One of the most frustrating statements I see is "This character's story is complete." Applejack's parents are a good way to show that isn't true. Even though they are gone, their actions have shaped lives in multiple ways. A simple demonstration of respect. Adding a bit of fun to the routine. Giving encouragement and advice to help a struggling business. None of these ponies were as close as the relations we saw in The Perfect Pear, but their lives were still changed.

    Given the situation,
    I think it can be beat.

    There are no individual stories, and they're never truly done. There's only one story: life itself. Our own lives might end, but our actions and the impact we made shapes the future. Doesn't matter if it's big or small. You have had an impact just by going out and offering something as simple as a "thank you" or holding a door. That's what I see when I read stories like this.

    "Father, you're alive!"
    "Stop assuming I kicked the bucket!"

    Yet while reading this comic, little hiccups are more noticeable. When Applejack visits Pinkie, she mentions not having a bowl of frosting for breakfast. I don't see said bowl, which seems like a miscommunication between artist and writer. It's also strange to see Applejack refer to her sister as "Sugah" instead of "Sugarcube". The intention is the same but it's a long-standing trait for Applejack and so it feels off.

    The fanboy within me cannot accept anything other than "Sugarcube".

    The funniest is a typo. Though not nearly as "damning" as the typo from Ponyville Mysteries, I think it was an error to use "shore" instead of "sure". Funny thing is that I enjoy the occasional typo. It reminds me that even with a team of writers and editors the occasional slip up can happen. Makes me feel better about my own spelling errors.

    I guess it could shore up
    their relationships.

    Ultimately the challenge becomes deciphering Pear Butter's final ingredient: love. That's not metaphorical. There's a code there and it taps into the fact that the Apple siblings have learned a whole new aspect of their own history. One would think Applejack's "story was done" but here we're given a reminder that life still has plenty of surprises.

    Given the setup I can make two assumptions.
    Those boxes are really heavy and Applejack is crazy strong!

    Speaking of AJ, this is one of the few times where the stubbornness is represented as a positive. It's more accurate to call it perseverance, but it stems from the same source. Usually, Applejack is staying the course to her own destruction. I like that we're seeing how her determination keeps the group going.

    Granny, when has polite discouragement
    ever stopped Applejack?

    This is not a high-stakes or magically-driven story but it is a delight. It's fun to see the Apple siblings interact with these figures who act as a bridge between parents and children. It's nice to learn more about Bright Mac and Pear Butter's courtship. Most of all, I really enjoy the themes.

    Her counter-argument is compelling.
    But ultimately futile.

    Give it a look and see if draws a tear or two. I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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