• Let's Review: Spirit of the Forest #2

    The Cutie Mark Crusader's campaign to save Whitetail Wood continues! Let's take a look at how they try to solve the situation through methods both legal and questionable.

    Check out the full review after the break with a few spoilers to boot!

    The strangest thing about reviewing modern-day media is the memories that accompany each thought. I've seen my fair share of environmental-based stories that often reduced the message to industrialism: bad, nature: good. Those who threaten the environment are purely wicked and devoid of any sympathy.

    I don't want to buy someone else's memories!
    What do you think this is? Total Recall?

    So I have to say that this issue is a refreshing take on the conflict. Continuing the trend of effective actions, the Crusaders realize that they can't sway Filthy Rich as long as he dismisses them as children. So they get some backup from their respective sisters and mentors. This gives Applejack the chance to prove herself very genre-savvy.

    The genre awareness is strong
    with this one!

    After a failed meeting, the group then escalates to the next reasonable approach. They appeal to city hall, though Mayor Mare proves ineffective. Given that Brenda Hickey illustrated both this series and Friendship is Magic #15, it's nice to see her feature Tadwell. Not all comic-exclusive characters need be world-threats like Cosmos or Eris. I find some of my fondest characters occupy simple niches within the overall world and bring their own style. 

    "An effect" is a very diplomatic way of saying
    "Reducing it to nothing".

    Breckle's artwork has become even stronger since Friends Forever and other issues. We get to see many snippets of Ponyville, an excellent depiction of the School of Friendship, and further settings within the Whitetail woods. Not to mention depicting the lumber ponies and the Crusader's newest disguise. The only questionable aspect to the artwork is how ponies are depicted from far away. While atmospheric perspective desaturates colors and reduces detail to create a sense of distance, there's a curious element where pony eyes become tiny dots. No sclera to be seen. Just a dot like a huge pupil. 


    The message the Crusaders are receiving seems mixed. The Mayor says that Filthy isn't doing anything wrong when, in fact, he is simply doing things legally. Legality and right are not always synonymous. Even their sisters seem to be given them a defeatist message: you can only do so much against big business.

    I feel like Sweetie is trying to develop
    telepathy. Or it might be gas.

    Yet none of them consider the next logical step. If a mayor can't assist, maybe a princess can. Like a very bored pony waiting back at the School of Friendship? I'm not sure why they don't ask Twilight, other than a fear that her actions would seize attention away from this story's lead characters. 

    As long as Fluttershy is happy.

    Though my own attention is diverted by Diamond Tiara. The Crusaders' former antagonist once again shows a nice character moment as she approaches the Crusaders, admits to her own frustrations, and doesn't treat them as enemies just for being at odds with her father. "The Last Crusade" pretty much confirmed that Diamond Tiara will not have another speaking role within the show. So this comic's depiction is a rare opportunity to see how she's integrated her change into daily life. 

    Can Applebloom see those marks over her head?
    I think she can!

    She does admit to holding back information, but that's an extension of the familial conflict. She's not out to sabotage anyone and states her own frustration. A strong change from the bratty pony who thought money made her family exclusively special. Yet I think the Crusaders are letting the old dynamic control their actions. They've not yet brought Diamond Tiara into the fold to work towards a solution.

    Is Filthy Rich turning Ponyville into
    lumber as well?

    Instead, they now step beyond legal boundaries and try to use scare tactics. The worker ponies are quickly too terrified to work thanks to Spirit of the Forest sightings. This is unintentionally funny thanks to the recent airing of "The Last Crusade." How many times will the Crusaders find themselves in these situations? 

    Gotta give the left design props for textiles, but the
    one on the right has better use of natural elements.

    It's here that my memories of past stories stir. There've been plenty of tales in which the protagonists drove away invading loggers by appealing to superstition or sabotage. The audience was always meant to assume that all was well and that victory belonged to the righteous. That's why this issue feels like a welcome change.

    Maybe don't declare this in front of your customers.

    While the logging may be suspended, the Crusaders witness local businesses–their friends and neighbors–suddenly fearful. The Crusaders saved the forest but may have condemned many ponies' futures. Even the Mayor admitted that the mill was having a positive impact on the economy. 

    It's... it's too easy.
    I shan't comment.

    Granted, there comes a point where one has to make a choice between unpleasant options. I'm not advocating for business and neither is this comic. Yet it presents a far more balanced look at the situation than I expected. It also shows that the Crusaders weren't thinking through the entire situation. 

    How often has Applebloom entered the room like this?

    There are times where our sense of morality can demand acting outside the law, but this is something that has to be done with careful deliberation. Often when you set out to break one rule you can unintentionally break several others. Such is the case when the Crusaders continue their haunting efforts and are thwarted by their own sisters. This isn't a simple right vs wrong. It's two groups who emphasize different priorities clashing. 

    Think AJ borrowed that disguise
    from Fluttershy?

    Which brings us to Filthy Rich and his depiction. Learning about the sabotage leaves him understandably irate. Yet his word choice is curious.

    Yes, scream at three young fillies. 
    That'll improve your case.

    This issue shows a greater amount of anger for Filthy. It starts when they appeal to memories of his grandmother, making me wonder if something soured between them. It makes me wonder about what Diamond Tiara remarked on last issue. Her father loved stories about the Spirit of the Forest. While Diamond Tiara didn't seem to believe in them, I wonder if Filthy Rich did. It's said that within every cynic is a frustrated idealist. 

    So is it okay to bust up your home for materials?
    After all, it's a place like any other.

    I see this question in every attempt Filthy makes to justify his operations. First it was to honor his grandmother, which seemed contradictory. Then it was that consumers wanted a product with memories attached. A flimsy statement as I doubt anyone can detect memories from lumber. It's more a question of rarity and a cost that creates value. Finally he simply says that the land is just full of valuable lumber. No sentimentality attached because there is no Spirit of the Forest. Even this angry statement doesn't ring true because we know he did value his time there. Something has changed and I'm eager to discover what. 

    I could see this being an internet meme.

    The overall message I'm taking from this is that the Crusaders tried for a quick fix, not an effective one. Now they're even worse off because they have no traction with Filthy Rich. Plus they've given their families a tarnished reputation with their neighbors. There's only one more issue to turn this around. 

    Let's be honest.
    This is not the worst thing they've done.

    I enjoyed this issue for its meta humor, callbacks, and a surprisingly complex message. It's not an absolutism story. It shows each character contending with a lot of gray areas. No idea if that will continue into the next issue, but we'll find out in a month. 

    Do you understand how Fluttershy feels now?
    Do you?

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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