• Editorial: Considering Chaos

    We're a week away from the conclusion of the Cosmos arc. Now that I think about it, we've had three servings of chaos.

    How do these different representations stack up with one another? Catch a full editorial after the break!

    Oh Pinkie, you knew not what you precluded!

    Sure is a lot a chaos up in this franchise. Once upon a time, Discord was the chaos lord supreme. Even a challenge from Pinkie Pie couldn't oust him as the head honcho. Yet the comics have presented us with some alternate takes on chaos courtesy of exclusive characters.

    Polly want a chaos?
    Nightmare Knights introduces us to Eris, a chaos spirit from a darker dimension. In fact, its bleak future is a direct result of her meddling. Discord's crazy-ex Cosmos is the current arc's titular villain and appears to be outclassing her former beau in raw power.

    I think this sums up Cosmos' character in one image.
    In many ways this raises warning signs. Discord was a unique creature and character. Couple that with John DeLancie's vocal talent and you have an instant fan-favorite. Introducing characters that trespass into his domain can draw ire. Yet I often enjoy comparing characters with similar powers to see how each one represents. After all, power is a tool and it use says more about the wielder. So let's look at each character's design, philosophy, and use of power.

    Eris – The Subtle Chaos
    Eris' first appearance featured a declaration against Discord. "Chaos wasn't meant to play pranks and turn rain to chocolate milk. It was meant to cause destruction!"

    A unique evil plan, to be sure!
    Her philosophy seems to be based on extending conflict and letting the pieces fall where they may. It's because of this idea that she prevented her universe's Pillars from sealing the Pony of Shadows. This same idea is what drove her to steal Luna's power in order to auction it off to villains. I get the impression that Eris will often benefit the villains as long as they are the more proactive force. Once they've achieved dominance, she'd likely flip sides and start aiding the heroes.

    I'm sure nothing bad will come of this.
    This philosophy features a hypocrisy. Eris couldn't accept it when one of her action's consequences was her own imprisonment. She wanted to continue the strife in the name of chaos but never wanted to be a part of it. She was supposed to be the exception to her own rules.

    Nothing bad came of this... to somepony else! 
    Looking at Eris, one wouldn't instantly assume that she's chaos-based. Jeremy Whitely based the design off the Maranao Sarimanok. Granted, the bat-like wings and horns on her head might invoke the mismatched parts of a Draconequus, but we have a Catch-22. A Sarimanok is already a fictional bird, so can we honestly say that it shouldn't have such parts?

    Eris is more an overt controller of dreams,
    courtesy of Luna's power. 
    The point behind this appearance is that Eris doesn't represent Chaos physically. She is the most subtle of the chaos lords. Her casino is meant to invoke chance and bestow benefits amongst antagonistic forces. There's no clear benefit, only the lure. Even Trixie and Luna were tempted when they thought magical items were up for grabs.

    If you want Pegasus Tears, just tell Rainbow Dash that
    Tank has to hibernate again.
    Thinking back, Eris never conjured items into being nor change anyone's appearance. The closest she came was using Luna's powers to dispel a magical attack. From the outside it's easy to assume that she's the weakest of the three chaos lords seen thus far. I think that's because her methodology is the most subtle. You wouldn't be aware that she's spreading chaos until you studied the chain of events. She's a benefactor to your enemy, now she's helping you. She hasn't changed the world. You did through a prolonged fight.

    But you can understand lucky charms!
    It's this subtlety that makes her stand out against Discord, who loves to mess with the scenery. Even moreso, she is the polar opposite of Cosmos.

    Cosmos – The Consuming Chaos
    Subtlety? What's that?

    I'd run from the silhouette.
    I'd hide from the words. 
    Cosmos has no interest in Eris' methods because they're too slow. Why draw out a conflict when you can just create one with less than a snap? Of all the characters discussed here, Eris is without question the most powerful. As a result, she's also the least interesting.

    The devil isn't wearing prada!
    Hers is a power that overwhelms. The chaos she conjures doesn't just appear around you, it tries to devour you. In some cases, Cosmos also changes individuals to suit her own needs. Usually it's a harmless form like ladybugs. An odd choice, given her interest in eldritch hell-scapes.

    It's amazing how Bettlejuice could inspire cartoons. 
    We've witnessed Cosmos posses six characters yet she has never influenced others. She didn't make Fluttershy more hostile or some other trait. She only changed Fluttershy's appearance to fit her name. Capper now has the mentality of a normal cat, but he's no servant. I'm assuming the ponies she turned into ladybugs also have a basic mindset.

    So... Who's turning them back?
    Cosmos isn't interested in bringing out your worst or forcing you to confront your darker aspects. She has the power to just make that happen, so why not? She represents a form of chaos that overtakes and consumes a person. Yet much like Eris, Cosmos ensures that this can't come back to bite her. No matter what the change to the landscape, it doesn't have a physical impact on her. Though her wardrobe changes frequently, she only changes her body when it serves to increase her power.

    And they say committees can't make snap decisions.

    I don't know if we should call Cosmos a Draconequus. She certainly contains a mismatch of animal parts–most of which are predatory–yet they're strangely symmetrical. Turn this way or that, Cosmos will always have a balanced look. Even when she absorbs several ponies and a zebra, the coloring and body parts are proportionately spaced. I'm not sure why this is but the best answer I can think is that this balanced design is easier to remember. She's often presented as larger-than-life, so a balanced design makes it a little easier to picture her.

    What a strange upgrade.
    Cosmos has no longer-term goal. She can have whatever she wants now, and thus her plans aren't terribly complex. As long as she's in charge and the strongest, that's all that matters. The one time she actively plots is when she is fragmented, and surprise is her greatest tool. Now that she is once again complete and upgraded, I doubt we'll see much in the way of mind games. 

    Discord – The Honest Chaos?  
    So, we've had a method of chaos that can go unnoticed for a while and one that can overpower you instantly. Where does Discord fall in all this? Strangely, I think he falls in the median and is the most honest chaos lord.

    The face that launched a hundred shipfics!

    That's not to give him a halo or anything. Like Eris and Cosmos, Discord is more than happy to use his powers to achieve a goal. Let's study how he conducts himself. It's funny to think back on how he altered Fluttershy, but only after he failed to antagonize her.

    I do love their dynamic.
    Discord doesn't want a fast win like Cosmos. This is all a game and it doesn't count unless you play the other players. We saw more of that as he tried to separate Fluttershy from the others in "Keep Calm and Flutter On". No point in just tapping her and turning her inverted. That wouldn't have any sport.

     That same dynamic makes this scene funnier in hindsight.
    Though prideful, Discord is willing to take a more passive role if it means he can undermine the controller. This isn't something I would expect Cosmos to stomach nor Eris to allow. Discord will always think himself in control, but is at least willing to play the passive role when needed.

    The Captain has his orders from his crew!
    Totally committed!
    It's also interesting to note that Discord is at the mercy of his own creations. Sometimes it's subtle, like when a transformed critter tried to take a chunk out of him.

    No retaliation. Just a raspberry. 
    He wasn't the master in that situation. He changed reality, and was at risk from the consequences. Likely you can't harm Discord any more than King Sombra could, yet he's got no qualms about taking the hit. Cosmos certainly wouldn't allow that and I doubt Eris has the courage.

    Discord: Champion of Creative Freedom!

    Discord is also the only chaos lord to visually accept dissonance. There are no balanced parts. No matching sets. Even his eyes and nostrils are different sizes. Because of his slender design it's easier to take in all the disparate elements.

    A wavy line with branching points. That's very easy on the eyes.
    So while Discord may have suffered an influx of challengers to the title of chaos lord, I think he's still the champ. He embraces chaos; working it for his own benefit but accepting consequences. He is often like a child trying to get everyone to play the same game but gradually he's learned a few things.

    The envy of every Applejack fan out there.
    Next week, we'll see if he's learned enough to finally shut down Cosmos. I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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