• Let's Review: MLP #77

    Happy May, everyone! After a dry spell we have a new comic. The penultimate chapter to the Cosmos arc.

    The full review lies beyond the break but there are some glittering spoilers. Tread carefully!

    Let's start with something that isn't a spoiler: Cosmos completely restores herself this issue. Why is this not a spoiler? Because the role of the second-to-last part of a story is to make things their most hopeless. Otherwise, what reason have we to anticipate the finale? It's a safe assumption that Cosmos would get the final star, but I mention this to celebrate a unique bit of artwork.

    Picture a live grenade instead of a gem.
    That's a good representation of what's about to happen.
    Andy Price's style has been a treat both for the expressions and references. Give him a location with signs or posters (usually in central hubs), and he can go to town with inside jokes. I wonder if Katie Cook structures her stories to facilitate this.

    This panel sums up the DC multiverse nicely.

    To be sure, it's not limited to just posters. There are ample references in actions, such as a rather terrifying tribute to Beetlejuice. Yet the real stand-out is a page devoted to Cosmos' return that features a level of detail and shading making it exemplary.

    Beautiful, dangerous, and mesmerizing. A grand display.

    This visual is very welcome because at this point I think even the story itself is impatient. One of the biggest hurdles for this tale is the fact that the Mane Six are oblivious. Thanks to Discord's efforts they have no idea that they're reassembling a terrible threat. This ignorance has continued throughout three parts and so the final hunt feels more like an obligation.

    I get the sense Rarity is considered public enemy #1
    for the transportation industry and Spike's spine.

    Consider how much humor featured in Applejack and Twilight exploring the secret library. Right down to Applejack's indignation at having her own gift stored away.

    It is gonna be so awkward when 
    Applejack confronts Celestia about that.

    Then we had the Klugetown quest, which featured any number of absurdities for Big Mac to endure. We didn't see Zecora and the Crusaders search but we did get to enjoy their machinations getting home.

    I genuinely want to hear Big Macintosh do opera.
    I don't think Peter New would agree.

    So what does the search for the final star within the Crystal Empire entail? Mostly just Spike talking about gem flavors while Rarity searches in the background. I'm not sure why this is the focus as it's not all that funny. I think this a missed opportunity as it wastes a rare appearance by Cadance. Within the comics, Cook gives Cadance a leaning towards Twilight's love of research and categorization. This could have been a fun outing to see a side of her not often celebrated.

    Don't give him an opening, Rainbow Dash!
    You'll never hear the end of it!

    I think the real goal here is to complete Discord's retrospective on meeting Cosmos. Having witnessed Cosmos' banishment and the events leading to Discord's betrayal, we finally get to see how this all started. For a time I thought that my original editorial on a star-themed villain had completely missed the mark. Yet Cosmos is indeed a threat from the stars and her power reflects this.

    If that landed on my front lawn, I'd probably be bug-eyed as well.

    There is sympathetic tone in that Discord stresses how he might have found a kindred spirit. Someone who can meet him on the same level and share in something he can't express to the ponies. Yet Cosmos quickly shows that she's too far in the extreme, chasing even Discord away. It's a fun contrast to his conversation with Fluttershy; a pony who can't match his power yet accepts him for who he is. The lesson seems to be prioritizing acceptance instead of symmetry. Perhaps that's why Cosmos may be a composite form yet too balanced to mesh with Discord's design. 

    Normally, I'd make a shipping joke. But these two
    are so innocent that romance isn't a requirement.

    Much like the last issue I have to question the flashback's authenticity. Discord may say he was smitten with Equestria, but his actions in the show haven't been nearly so innocent. The comic seems to be trying to co-opt his backstory to make Cosmos more threatening and I don't think fans will easily accept this revision.

    I love how Price plays with the layout.

    That's not to say Cosmos doesn't come off as threatening on her own. One of the curious elements is how she chooses to change sentient beings. The ladybugs explanation was far darker than I thought. Yet I find it strange that Cosmos chooses to change beings like Capper and Fluttershy into everyday creatures.

    Maybe they're still a hopeful image?
    Yeah, probably not.

    At first I thought she changed Fluttershy for a subtly sinister reason. Something like a butterfly that has a significantly shorter lifespan. Yet looking at how she changed Capper and Canterlot's residents I wonder if it isn't simply enjoying something visually cute or pleasing. Even then, it speaks to Cosmos' arrogance that she assumes she can dictate reality.

    Beetlejuice was pretty terrifying back in the day. Yet it's so beloved.
    We like to be scared.

    One unexpected turn is Cosmo absorbing her mental captives into her form. Makes me wonder if she didn't do something similar to achieve the first look we witnessed. This might also set the stage for her defeat as those six minds are now joined instead of isolated. Cosmos may suffer a rebellion from within.

    Quite the upgrade!

    This "inner revolt" idea has precedent. Despite the fact that Cosmos is in control her captives' individual traits still shine through. It's as though Cosmos is "wearing" their identities and can't fully control them. 

    There's a reason we haven't seen any other zebras.
    Everyone's afraid to write a complete script of rhymes.

    At long last the final conflict is ready. There's no more need for flashbacks. All the cast is assembled and ready for a confrontation. Cosmos is still an unknown to many, but they are at least aware of the threat. So this comic has done its job.

    Not the most romantic memory.
    Or maybe Cadance has a thing for grocery lists?

    As a stand alone, however, this part suffers. We've seen the scenario of searching for fragments and being bested by Cosmos' puppets twice before. We've also seen several sets of flashbacks. It's good to put all this rest but repetition is a burden.

    I wish my conscience was this cute.
    Mine's just a jerk.

    This is an issue that banks heavily on being the next-to-last. I can't say I had the most fun, but it did the job of getting me excited for the finale. Thankfully we won't have wait quite so long. Finale should be out by the end of the month.

    Maybe that parasprite turned Cosmos in favor of ladybugs.

    There is one final speculation: whether or not Cosmos will be redeemed. Given the show's track record I understand this concern but the comics have a different track record. Out of all the characters featured over the various series, I can only recall three individuals who were forgiven or redeemed. The comic version of Sombra, Shadow Lock, and Cassie the Kelpie. Most other villains are defeated and imprisoned or at least sent running. 

    "I'm the queen of the world!"
    And yes, Discord should be committed.

    Time will tell and I look forward to the revelation. I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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