• Let's Review: MLP #29

    It's time for some wrestling! With no new comic this week, let's instead take a look at Cheerilee's sole starring role.

    Check out the full review after the break. Just make sure that spoilers won't make you tap out.

    Fallible as it is, I trust my memory when it says that this is the one and only time Cheerilee enjoyed a central role in a comic story. A shame since she's an important aspect to the Crusaders' lives and could be a fun character in her own right.

    Not the strongest horse pun but welcome all the same.

    Much of this comic rises or falls based on the artwork. Jay Fosgitt's style tends to polarize fans; yet I think this issue might be the best kind of story to utilize his style. A very heated point of debate is how Fosgitt draws the ponies in much more human poses. Such as when Cheerilee is having an emotional moment.

    Remember when Twilight assumed the fetal position in "Lesson Zero"?
    That worked because her legs were properly oriented. Not so here.

    I agree with folks that I find it weird when ponies sit, stand, or adopt a pose that doesn't match equine anatomy. Granted, I've given the show plenty of leeway when it does the same. Yet I think there's a difference of between an animation of Rainbow Dash begging on her "knees" versus a still image of Rarity standing while she presses her hooves to her cheeks.

    If Rarity were sitting I think this 
    would be less awkward.

    Yet can you imagine horses trying to wrestle? You can watch some YouTube videos of them fighting, but it's nothing like what this story requires. Because we've already ventured into a realm far, far beyond horse-styled mobility, it's almost carte blanche to go all out and create a display. This also plays to Fosgitt's sense of comedic proportions. The larger the opponent, the more unfair and comical the situation becomes.

    I think Cheerilee is prophetic.

    As for the designs of the ponies, it's likely the biggest contention. I like seeing the ponies depicted in different art styles, though not with equal enjoyment. My personal criticism of Fosgitt's style is not the proportion of head to body but rather the narrow taper of the necks and that most of the manes seem to be pasted on to the neckline. Rarity's mane is one of the few whose mane flows freely.

    This comic does feature digitally-imposed cutie marks,
    but so many wrestling outfits keeps this to a minimum.

    Fitting then that it's Rarity who really gets the story going. The Mane Six are in Manehatten thanks to a gift from Soarin'. I will pause for a moment to allow the Soarin'/Rainbow Dash shippers a moment to celebrate.

    Is it weird that I think Fluttershy would enjoy this most of all?

    All good? Excellent. Yet Rarity is the only one disinterest in the match. It's she who bumps into a nervous Cheerilee, who reveals that the fan-favorite Mystery Mare is really her twin sister. We never learn specifically what drove a wedge between Cheerilee and Cherry Blossom. Only that Blossom was always more extroverted and rowdy. Yet their interactions seem much more strained than just different personalities. There is something bitter between them.

    Murder is incoming...

    The chance to truly bridge the gap comes when Blossom falls and injures her leg. This leads to the classic Twin Switch trope with Cheerilee donning the Mystery Mare mask. Cherry Blossom serves as a coach and offers a view of life behind the stage lights.

    "We're gonna need a montage (Montage)
    A sports-training montage (Montage)!"

    To this story's credit it does not try to make it sound like wrestling is a genuine battle. Wrestling is scripted but not fake. The jumps, falls, and mock blows require practice and coordination. You can get hurt and the risk is always present. So... why is Cheerilee doing this again?

    Nice to see wrestlers acting... nice.

    This is the biggest leap the comic is asking its readers to take. Cheerilee must become coordinated and practiced enough to perform in the championship match within three days. The scenario gets muddied a bit when Iron Hock, the opponent for the match, seems to be taking this very seriously. No scripted rivalry of WWE's "male soap opera".

    Why are my shipping senses tingling?

    Rarity is not forgotten in this struggle as she tries to help Cheerilee recognize the most important aspect. Despite their different approaches, both sisters are looking to make other ponies happy. I think that bridge works in a general sense but it's a harder link to forge under scrutiny.

    This issue features the most background
    references by Fosgitt.

    I'm going to do something I often avoid and relate a personal experience. During college I would witness dormmates watching WWE and simply not getting it. It wasn't until my senior year when I got to room with some of my best friends, also wrestling fans, that I began to get drawn in. I appreciated how the wrestlers adopted these personas to make you love or hate them. I found myself genuinely wanting to see Triple H lose the championship title and tuning in again and again despite the repetition.

    Cheerilee has a heck of a jumping ability!

    Yet my interest waned very soon after graduation and my friends and I moved to different parts of the country. Without the group excitement I couldn't maintain my interest. I think wrestling thrives within the group mentality while education is more to benefit an individual. Plus, achievements in education like graduation can bring a smile but it's a much more long-term investment than the length of a wrestling match.

    Again, I like seeing wrestlers do more than
    glare at one another.

    Yet realizing this general parallel and talking to some fans is enough to energize Cheerilee to go for the title match and win. We then get what I consider to be the funniest joke in the comic. A sudden tag team match that plays to Fosgitt's use of proportions and also takes advantage of a panel-based story.

    I find these two panels delightful.
    Almost as much as Rarity's costume.

    What happened? How did they conclude the match? Was that last move legal? I have no idea and I find that hilarious.

    Where is security in this place?

    We do get some extra resolution in learning that Iron Hock is really Cherry Blossom's friend Clover. The act was meant to help motivate Cheerilee, which both highlights how the showmanship we associate with wrestling can draw emotions with surprising skill. At the same time, I don't know if Cheerilee needed that kind of motivation. Yet at least we know that Iron Hock hasn't fallen so far into the role that she's unable to distinguish fiction from reality. Something we would see Fluttershy fall prey to in "Fake It 'Til You Make It".

    I really feel like they should stop Pinkie Pie.
    Like, right now!

    I enjoy Cheerilee's character within the show but this comic is taking her to realms well beyond Ponyville. In some ways that's a strength as it doesn't risk contradiction with the show. Yet it also feels more like a throw-away story. Something to distract or tap into a trope while using an extra character.

    More background references!

    My favorite IDW stories often flesh out a character from Ponyville, not part of the Mane Six, but familiar enough to be part of episode backgrounds. No budget needed for voice acting and animation. I think IDW would do well to take Ponyville's residents and allow them some time in the limelight. This is a fun and inoffensive story with some added appeal to WWE fans, but it's also very quickly passing. Give it a look if you're interested but know there are strong issues in IDW's library.

    Admit it. We'd all like to use
    "FWONNNNG!" as a sound effect.

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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