• Let's Review: Fiendship is Magic #2

    Last week we took a look at one possible history for Sombra. With no new comic this week, how about we keep the trend going with a look at Lord Tirek?

    How did the young conqueror get his start? Find out one interpretation after the break!

    As with Sombra's origin story, canon is not the concern here. This is an idea behind not only the villain, but a character we've yet to experience first-hand.

    That look just screams,
    "It's not a phase!"

    Tony Fleecs faced a unique challenge with this story. How does one convey an environment we've never seen before? It's not just drawing new characters but also conveying the relationship between them. So much of the world depicted by Fleecs represents hostility and harshness. Consider this shot of the centaur hermit Sendak's abode.

    I find the rocks really add to the unnatural magical glow.

    There is order there, such as the arrayed books and pots. But there are also tattered clothes that add a foreboding. It hints at some deeper damage than the organized elements suggest. One might think this is a commentary on Sendak, but then we see King Vorak's throne room and realize that the same tatters are present. A curious centaur decor choice or a statement that the same dissonance reaches from the height of power to the outcasts?

    Funny how the carpet looks as cold as the
    rest of the floor.

    Even the panels in this issue have uneven borders that convey a tension. Maybe it's just Discord having some fun. He's there, after all. A part of the King's court along with aged versions of the Thunder Gremlins. It's a curious idea that they perhaps got their start in a more conflict-driven part of the world before targeting the more serene Equestria. They're easter eggs, but I can't help but ponder the possibilities.

    "I mean, we just finished our seventh war with the yaks this week!"

    Shifting over to coloring, Heather Breckel's work compliments the same mood that Fleecs' artwork conveys. Case in point, the tower is already imposing as a pure black silhouette with violet windows. From the inside, the walls become a blue and violet gradient that resists Tirek's presence and that of his father. Though some furniture adds a hint of warmth with red tables or golden railings, a majority of the setting is frigid and unfeeling. It reflects the lack of connection between the family members.

    I'd be sensitive too if you were smashing things near my head.

    Outside, the sky is always tinted green over an arid landscape and blue mountains that seem drained of life rather than rich with beauty. You can sense the emptiness around them, though it is worth noting we only seen Tirek traversing the "Badlands" in order to reach Sendak. It's very possible that there are richer lands elsewhere. Even if that's true, a green sky is often a signal of dangerous weather, and its continual presence reinforces that we're in a land almost opposite Equestria.

    They should have fired their archiect when he got to the second floor.

    The only place where Tirek seems accepted is within the warmer, earthy tones of Sendak's cave. Everything seems to match Tirek's color scheme without swallowing him from view. That's because Sendak's relationship with Tirek is that of a mentor, but fractured. Whereas Celestia mentored Twilight to become her best self for Equestria's benefit, Sendak and Tirek share a desire for power. There's nothing that hints Sendak wants Tirek to surpass him. Only that he learn and come into his own after Sendak has achieved his own goals.

    "I like... elipsis... a lot."

    By a similar notion, Tirek's father Vorak is paranoid that his son's thirst for power will eventually usurp his throne. A strange fear given that Tirek is already the rightful heir, showing that "Lord" title wasn't just self-aggrandizement. Vorak's own vulnerability is that he doens't want to give up the power he has, even if it means neglecting his own son. He says that Tirek abandons his duties to study magic, but what has he done to nurture Tirek's growth and strengthen a connection with their subjects?

    "I see you're standing close to me."
    "I could say the same to you."

    I get the sense that Tirek's mother, though she speaks up on his behalf, is also afraid of her son. She acknowledges the magical talent Vorak tries to ignore, but never seeks out Tirek to have a talk. She seems to dote more on Scorpan, who is sadly a victim in all this.

    Okay, I want someone to guard him from you.

    A topic of discussion last week was whether or not a poor childhood justifies a character's present actions. To clarify, I do not think this is the case. At some point we become responsible for our own decisions and cannot pass the blame to others. However, there's a reason this is often used. Some dismiss this as cliche but I think it serves an important reminder. The love or cruelty we show to others echos well beyond our lives. It influences more than just our immediate friends and family, especially in this electronically connected world.

    "It's not a phase!" mark 2!

    Tirek is burdened by a culture that cannot accept his gifts and a drive to prove himself to a father who will not show him love. In time, we know that drive will turn inward and become a purely selfish motive. A tyrant sees the world in terms of finite powers, and he has to snatch up every last drop lest someone else succeed first. We see the start of this view when Sendak reveals he's captured a unicorn and seeks to drain its magic.

    This won't go the way you think.

    Impatient for his own status, Tirek betrays both his parents, brother, and Sendak to take the power first only to fail. The rebel without a cause actually cuts away important connections in his life, vowing to become unstoppable. We've seen how well that works.

    Told ya!

    Yet of all the characters involved here, Scorpan is the most intriguing. He is simultaneously devoted to Tirek while also afraid of him. He is powerless to mend the rifts in his family but constantly tries to warn of danger. Warning that Tirek seems to hear but not heed.

    "Turns out I'm kind of a coward on the inside. Sorry!"

    We know that one day Scorpan will favor the ponies over his own brother, so what does this say? My own take is that he followed Tirek out of familial duty, but eventually I think he realized Tirek was going to a place Scorpan could not follow. Tirek views this as a betrayal, but I see it as Scorpan recognizing that sometimes the only way you can make your point is to walk away.

    "So... we're friends, right?"
    "Well, yes. But that doesn't mean I'm going to be writing friendship journals about it."

    If we go by this story, then Scorpan is likely the ruler in Tirek's absence, which will require him to stand firm where otherwise he might simply watch. Apparently, he might have made a cameo in My Little Pony The Movie but that idea never reached fruition. I don't know if we'll ever see him in the show but I would like to know how he's faring.

    He looks good for over 1,000 years old.

    As for Tirek, I don't think this fleshes him out quite so far as Sombra's story. Again, mostly because he has little interaction outside the most immediate connections. Stories like this hint that we create our own monsters, but that's harder to explore if there aren't some supporting characters to represent the culture at large. Sombra's story showed Chestnut Falls caring for Sombra, which conflicted with his claims of being rejected. Tirek doesn't even have interactions outside his family aside from guards who are robotic in their tasks.

    These guys are as effective as Equestrian guards.

    I'd rank this as my third favorite of the Fiendship is Magic series. It offers a very different view of Tirek as a being much less confident or competent in his youth, but with the seed of a darker future. It also presents a different approach for Scorpan with a note of hope that he will rise above his family's mistakes.

    "Maybe I could free my brother on parole after 500 years?"
    "I wouldn't hold your breath."

    I have no idea if this can still be seen as canon. Yet I'm not worried about hat. A good story is a good story and I think this is a fun read.

    Grogar will have words for you!

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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