• Let's Review: MLP #24

    No new comic for us this week, but we've got a one-shot to inspect.

    Between the Cutie Mark Crusaders and Discord, I wonder how Fluttershy fended off a nervous breakdown. Or maybe she didn't. Let's find out as we take a look at this issue!

    Catch the full review after the break.

    So here we have a convergence of continuities. No meme this time, but the thought is there. Within the show, Discord had become friends with Fluttershy and was even worse back then at being a friend. Yet within the comics, Friends Forever #2 had established a bond between Discord and the Cutie Mark Crusaders, who in turn had built a bond with Fluttershy in The Stare Master

    Friendship: The Gathering...
    Most of the starter cards are now irrelevant.

    It seems a foregone conclusion that all this would converge but the question lies in how well it's executed. That includes artwork because whenever Discord is involved it seems to change the comic. We've seen ponies like Pinkie feature extreme expressions but Discord is basically carte blanche to draw things wildly beyond the norm. Brenda Hickey takes advantage of this not only with Discord but also dialing up the expressions for Fluttershy and the CMC.

    I think this covers Hickey's portrayal of Discord well.

    In Discord's case it's a wide range from frustration to over-excitement and several points in between while Fluttershy is mostly panic or super-adorableness. 

    You cannot say no to those eyes!

    Meanwhile, the Crusaders feature extreme reactions. Most notably with Sweetie Belle, who is the stand-out Crusader here. While Applebloom and Scootaloo are mostly reactionary, Sweetie Belle is the most observant and outspoken. She's living up to her role as the Crusader's mind, though the lack of input from the other two is disappointing. 

    It's never easy being the smart one.
    Especially if you're the cute smart one.

    Their romp through time also gives us a chance to visit a variety of locations. I often criticize that the IDW comics draw new locations too close to our own world. Hickey's artwork dances this line because while I recognize the influences, she isn't constrained by perfectly straight lines. The slight variations give each structure a more lively look and overall draw more interest. Pun intended. 

    The sun rays remind me of a spider web.
    A drunk spider's web.

    Of course, being a Discord-based issue we can expect loads and loads of references. From Sailor Moon to Doctor who, I think this issue tackles just about every major sci-fi genre in some way. 

    The pretty Crusader-suited soldier!
    Sailor Discord!

    Frustrated by an ordinary, safe day observing nature, Discord tempts Fluttershy and fillies with time travel and the chance to meet a Butterdragon. What follows is an every-increasing danger as first Discord plunks them in Anugypt. Funny to see a pun not based on horses. It's here that we get an odd idea. We're presented with an Anubis-based ruler and guards who have been empowered by a dark power. Sweetie Belle notes that it's almost identical to Nightmare Moon. When a set of multi-colored cat rebels rescue the troupe, the CMC also note that their colors match the modern day Elements of Harmony. 

    Cat fight!

    Putting two and two together, Sweetie Belle advises the leader, Baast, on how to defeat the evil king. The implication being that both Nightmare Moon and the Elements are recurring factors throughout history; possibly through reincarnation. What Sweetie Belle just did is confirm history, as Discord states that time travel is fixed. You can't change the past because your decisions and actions are already a part of it. This is in keeping with It's About Time, though conflicts with The Cutie Re-Mark. Odd how a single series can feature so many interpretations of time travel. 


    This leads to a few deep statements like how the past can hurt you and the longer you live the more likely that will happen. Rather heavy for a children's comic. As is the idea that Baast may have had a thing for Discord, even though she knows he is completely unreliable. A warning she gives to the ponies despite her hostility to Fluttershy. I think she sense there's someone closer to Discord than she. 

    This tip brought to you by...
    The brainy one!

    While the Anubis-style guards aren't very effective, this will not be their last appearance. From the Shadows featured the same set of guards in service to Queen Cleopatrot. It seems these guys are just too cool an idea to let slide even if we never see them in the show proper. 

    Has a good pony every called out, "Guards"?

    Anugypt is the locations with the greatest focus as Discord has had a great impact there. Undermining the tyrant while assisting the rebels not for nobility's sake but for entertainment. This is Discord at his most anarchistic. Hey might help out against an established power, but don't mistake him for an ally. As soon as you become the new norm, he's against you. 

    Again, the brainy one!

    I think this weighs on Fluttershy as they feature brief snippets into Coltlantis and an unnamed future populated by Cyberponies and aliens. It's funny to see seaponies once again. It seems like the same ideas come up within the franchise but the context keeps changing. I'm still intrigued by the idea that there might be natural seaponies in addition to the hippogriffs. 

    Amazing as this looks,
    I wonder why there is a winding road.

    But all the stress and near-misses take their toll on Fluttershy. It reaches a fever pitch when a Roc abducts the Crusaders. Fluttershy takes Baast's caution to heart but after her passing out we experience a jump. The highest form of peril thus far is resolved off-panel. A bit of let down though we do get to explore the idea that Discord had at least one friend before Fluttershy. I think the show has since countered this idea but it's still intriguing. 

    But the rule about time travel already happening prevents chaos.
    Good grief! Discord has undone himself!

    The driving theme here is that Discord is not very considerate. As a being with very few limitations, he is used to doing whatever he pleases. So the safety and well-being of others is a foreign concept. On its own, this comic can't really address the issue. The abrupt ending doesn't allow Discord a chance to try again with a greater emphasis on safety. The story's focus is on his deficiencies, not his growth.

    Yes, catch her!

    To explore this further you'd need to also read Friends Forever #5 and #20, which expand upon Discord's relationship with Fluttershy and the CMC. He admits that caring makes him vulnerable, and he's not used to that. Sadly, we haven't gotten to explore this theme further as the new continuity focus is an obstacle. The last time Discord really interacted with the CMC was in Make New Friends but Keep Discord, and it was hardly complimentary. 

    That is very profound.

    I would very much enjoy a chance to return to this dynamic and study it further. Discord meeting the CMC's excitement but having to integrate Fluttershy's care and responsibility. That would be a positive expression for him. Alas, it may remain the domain of fan fiction. 

    The Cutie Mark Crusaders:
    Proof that natural selection is a lie.

    This one-shot is a lot of silly fun with a few deeper ideas camouflaged. If you'd like to get a full view on the comic's take on Discord, then I recommend Friends Forever #2, 5, and 20 along with MLP #24 and 48-50. These tend to show Discord at his most vulnerable and explore how the ponies come to mean more to him even though he sabotages his own efforts. 

    So... was Equestria assimilated?

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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