• Editorial: The Spirit, the Ion, and the Princess

    No new comic? No problem! I've still got some stuff to talk about from Spirit of the Forest.

    To do so, we must journey outside the fandom and look at another comic line: Green Lantern.

    Catch the full editorial after the break!

    Forget hiding. It looks like the Spirit has some fresh moves!

    So what more is there to say about Spirit of the Forest? Well, I didn't have much of a chance to talk about the very, very end. At the time I considered it too much a spoiler to discuss but it threw everything into a twist. Now that the comic has been out for a while I think it's fair game to talk about how the Spirit of the Forest is real.

    We rarely see it, but in both cases only the middle eye is open.

    Which begs a very important question: what the heck has it been doing? Filthy Rich's strangely focused greed led him to cut out vast swaths from the Whitetail Wood, which the Spirit is said to protect. The Crusaders and Diamond Tiara assumed this role early on, with the Spirit hinted at watching them.

    "I am the night–I mean–forest!"

    At their lowest point, the Crusaders wanted to make the Spirit real so it could scare off the works and halt production. It nearly worked. So if the Spirit had just stood up and looked Filthy Rich in the eye (while keeping the other two closed, it seems) this story would have been finished.

    With that costume, it was probably watching and going "The hay?"

    Yet what would that have gained? Sure, the immediate problem would be solved but we're then faced with the question of next time, as well as the dangers that come with revealing a greater power. As I thought about this, memories stirred of an older DC comic that explains this conflict.

    "I don't care."
    "I don't have to be right."
    These are not phrases someone 
    with god-like powershould say casually.

    Betrayed and demolished, the Green Lantern Corp once had but a single member. Kyle Rainer was not trained or prepared to take on the role, but much of his run as the final Green Lantern required that he step up multiple times. This included when the collective power of the Green Lanterns, meant to be distributed across 3,600 sectors in known space, found its way to him alone.

    "And your meeting rooms will come with better furniture.
    Intergalactic Ikea demands it!"

    Now supercharged and calling himself "The Ion", Kyle had power to manipulate both energy and time so that he could literally be everywhere at once. In the span of a week he brought peace to war-torn worlds, relieved hunger and squalor in multiple places around Earth, and turned away an alien invasion before the Justice League could even signal a counterattack. Amazing displays, though he still couldn't come up with a better name than "The Ion."

    That fleet looks very shatterable.

    Yet all this came at a cost and Kyle didn't understand the consequences until pulled aside by an icon of heroism: Superman. In a frank but respectful discussion, Superman laid out that Kyle had overstepped his bounds. As the Man of Steel put it, the heroes were meant to tackle threats too large for people to handle, throttle the life out of it, and then move aside so that people could continue to live their lives.

    He's being so serious,
    and yet I am distracted by how his cape
    highlights his glutes.

    With the best of intentions, Kyle had failed to allow that last part. By solving all the world's problems with his power, he had groomed the populace to depend on him. As Superman put it, humanity needed to defend humanity. 

    The sad thing is that some would give up
    living for security. But I wonder how quickly they would tire.

    I think many would be upset at Superman's statement. It's easy to talk about what humanity should do when enjoying a host of powers. It also doesn't help that he's speaking to a macro view while heroes also interact on the micro level. "Micro" in this case being individual people. Superman and other heroes swoop in to catch someone who's fallen from a rooftop or trapped by fire or apprehend a purse-snatcher just as readily as they'll stand up to a world-conquering tyrant. Right now he's only speaking to the big picture. Because how can you tell someone "I can't help you anymore because you need autonomy"?

    Ion could produce food from literally nothing. 
    That's a hard power to give up.

    Yet I think Superman is saying this from an important perspective. As Kyle points out, Superman and Wonder Woman both have various cults dedicated towards them. Superman knows this without approving, and I think that's why it's so important for him to say this. Other people may want a protector who blocks all risk and tragedy, but as someone who has witnessed people place too much reliance on one person, Superman knows the danger. It might not make sense to individuals, especially those in need, but it is still truth. And while Superman built up an unwanted following over years, Kyle has done so in mere days. 

    I think it's human nature to believe in something bigger,
    though not necessarily a deity. The question is what we do with that belief.

    There's also an unspoken question: What happens if Kyle Rayner becomes lost? The peace he has enforced crumbles and a dependent people, now thrust into independence, have no idea how to respond. A forced peace may be the swift solution, but it is not lasting. That requires consistent effort from people living their own lives. 

    This angle really stresses that Kyle is unknowingly assuming a god's role.

    To his credit, Kyle listens and ponders his place in the world. Ultimately, he relinquishes this grand power to lay the groundwork for the Green Lantern Corps' restoration. Because he decided that such power was meant to be shared, not horded.

    You know, it is okay to help out.
    No one would berate you for helping.

    Let's turn this back towards the Spirit of the Forest. If it appeared, it likely could have stopped Flithy Rich, but what then? Now it is exposed to the public and can be seen as an idol. Now the ponies need not take responsibility for the forest as it already has its protector. Now the foals have something to depend upon and no call to step forward. 

    Diamond Tiara favoring nature over money.
    How much she's grown!

    I think the Spirit understood that it worked best as an idea. A story to inspire generations to take up the mantle. If a problem arises that is too big for them too handle, too terrible in scope, then it is called to action. Until then, better to just watch from afar and see the growth in future generations. Yet there's one other being to whom we can apply this idea. 

    I believe her, but sometimes that help takes an inscrutable form.

    I wonder if Princess Celestia could ever regret becoming so prominent? As the tallest and pony in the land, she's got a big-ol' bullseye painted on her. Want to conquer this land of resources and magic? She's the first defense you need to neutralize. Worse still, her subjects know it.

    "They almost never help us."
    How those words will boomerang back upon you, Rainbow!

    Remember how they reacted to the mere appearance of a zebra? Terror and hiding because, in part, they were used to being protected from the unknown. So they had to no will the face it. I think that's why Celestia started grooming Twilight to be more than a bystander, but I don't know how much of it was genuine.

    This was the start of Celestia's descent into Worfdom.

    It's become a running joke that Celestia and Luna are depowered, captured, or otherwise removed from a threat before they even get to act. Even the self-aware "They almost never help us" line is painful because it seems true. Yet Twilight and friends have always risen to the challenge because they weren't waiting for someone else to come and save them. 

    Discord taught them not to rely on others.
    I wonder what lesson the finale will teach.
    No spoilers!

    Did they reach this state because Celestia decided not to intervene or was she truly helpless? There's just enough gray area to make me unsure, though I tend to think she genuinely was outdone in the bigger season openers or finales. We should also consider when she and Luna got too involved.

    They do appear more omnipotent in that light, don't they?

    "Between Dark and Dawn" offered us a glimpse of the pendulum swinging too far the other direction. Though played for laughs, we did see a world in which Celestia and Luna tried to do everything. That includes overcoming small obstacles. Part of the humor comes from Rainbow Dash, the pony who spoke that earlier "never help us" line, now complains that the Princesses don't trust them to live their own lives. 

    See, Rainbow? Your proud joke has come back to haunt you!

    Despite her teaching harmony, I don't think Celestia ever found the balance like Kyle or the Spirit of the Forest. She was in too prominent a position. Ponies depended on her at the expense of their own autonomy, and yet we never saw her triumph enough on her own to make this seem warranted. Perhaps the princesses of the day and night would have worked better as an idea themselves. Mysterious figures that appear when needed and disappear immediately. 

    This is a scene I think Celestia would do well to avoid.

    We're too far into Season 9 to change course on Celestia and Luna now, but it's something to consider. If you have a powerful being in your own stories, how accessible are they? How dependable? And how often do they interact with the populace? 

    Fanfic writers, consider! These are questions Twilight must ask
    when she ascends the throne to rule all of Equestria.

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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