• Let's Review: Friendship is Magic #86

    Party time! Maud and Marble get some spotlight with this month's entry!

    But what about Pinkie? Surely she wouldn't miss out on a party. Catch the full review after the break and find out!

    Just be aware: This party RSVP'd some spoilers.

    A Pie family story. Haven't gotten to enjoy many of those. Usually, the Pies share the spotlight with another party like the Apples or Mud Briar. We rarely get to see the sisters working off one another so this is a special treat.

    This shot sums up their personalites very well!

    With Pinkie's involvement, the story calls for a lot of action. A cake can't simply lean when overloaded, it must sway back and forth. Paper doesn't just unravel. It flows through large arcs. You don't want to just watch the Friendship Express moving linearly along its track. It has to crest the top of a hill with a rolling landscape. This is exactly what Kate Sherron brings to this story.

    ... That parchment is blank.

    Her style is very in-line with the show. Faithful recreations of locations we know and just enough detailing to establish the environment. Within this issue I think a great of the artistic effort went towards making the characters as expressive as possible. So you'll see a scene with Pinkie Pie baking. She doesn't have a whole lot of ingredients arrayed around her, but her delight is apparent and that giant mixer conveys her enthusiasm.
    The budget this pony enjoys is staggering.

    Where else but in My Little Pony can you write a paragraph like that?

    I have many questions but no means by which to prioritize!

    However, Pinkie is a co-star for this, and I think the artwork could go a step further. Pinkie's world is curves and a steady flow, which Sherron represents well. Contrasting that is Maud Pie, whose lifestyle is more subdued, analytical, and methodical. I think the artwork could depict Maud's side of the story with some greater rigidity, yielding towards Pinkie's style as Maud begins to ask, "What Would Pinkie Pie Do?"

    Maud's lucky to have such an accepting sister.
    Any other pony might try to force "normalcy".

    That's not to say that Maud's presentation is wasted. We get to see her pushed further out of her comfort zone than we've ever witnessed. Not only does her mane reflect this trip into WWPPD, but also her expressiveness, mannerisms, and the surrounding environment.

    A rare appearance by the family. Wonder what Cloudy Quartz is up to?

    The teaser for this issue emphasized Marble Pie's efforts to host a party, but she is not as constant a presence. Her role is to bracket the story as the motive for the conflict and a confirmation of its resolution.

    Marble gets much more a speaking role here.
    Good thing, because it'd be hard to base a party around "Mmm-hm!"

    A consistent idea I noticed from fan commentswas a desire to see her find somepony special after the bitter scene in "The Best Gift Ever". Some might read this and come to the assertion "Marble don't need no stallion!" I've never been a big fan of that kind of saying because it implies that forming a bond with another somehow diminishes you. I'm more a fan of "Real love can only happen between two independent, emotionally-mature individuals", which is what Marble is working towards.

    I didn't say it was a smooth process!

    The theme of this story is moving outside one's comfort zone. Despite an understandable amount of worry, Marble is trying to broaden her social circles and just happens to have 200+ RSVP's. So it's up to Pinkie to help make that happen while honoring a previous engagement.

    Dang! She really committed 
    to send out so many invites!

    This could have easily become a lesson in accepting limits, such as not being able to enact two parties at once, but Jeremy Whitley utilized contrast to highlight both Pinkie and Maud. Without a party planner nearby, Maud must now go beyond her own comfort and attempt to follow Pinkie's example. Part of this is facilitated by a sugartube. Think of it as the candy counterpart to Popeye's spinach.

    I have to wonder the concentration of sugar,
    give that it has an actual "Danger" sign.

    Yet while Maud temporarily adopts some of Pinkie's mannerisms, she never stops being herself. She takes a more commanding approach and even finds a way to integrate her love of rocks as decorations. Maud makes it clear that being there for her sisters is the prime motivator. Marble's joy at the result is the best reward.

    That's a cool idea. Wonder if there's something like that
    in the real world?

    One might think that this is a Maud-centric story given her proactive role. Yet I think this story also honors Pinkie as Maud reflects on how much she's learned from her little sister. She acknowledges that what she had to face for one afternoon, Pinkie does almost every day. While she might be energetic and outgoing, Pinkie is also consistently pushing her limits to understand the kind of party to plan.

    "Life begins where your comfort zone ends."

    My favorite presentations for Pinkie are where there is a method to her madness. Weird for weird's sake is a distraction, but an underlying motive hints at a much deeper character. I appreciate it when writers give Pinkie that level of characterization. It's too tempting and easy to simply make her a joke-spouting trope. It also helps that Pinkie still gets to show her best by making a 2-day trek in a half-day for her family's sake. Thus showing that she feels just as strongly for her family as Maud.

    There's a very confused coyote off-panel.

    It's unfortunate that Limestone doesn't have much of a role. Perhaps she could have been the gruff mentor, encouraging Maud her own aggressive style. Or maybe there just wasn't room. Normally, I'd express a hope that Limestone could get her own issue, but we're on the cusp of a transition.

    They are rockin' those glasses!

    The next two issues are a multi-party story that will mark the end of what I call "The Second Continuity". After that, we begin IDW's Season 10. I have no idea if Limestone might have a place in the lineup, but as the last stand-alone tale here I find this issue a delight.

    This is the least-strangest impediment that train has suffered!

    Pinkie and Maud–often contrasted to emphasize their uniqueness–are now contrasted to emphasize their similarities. A mutual love of family. A drive to go beyond the familiar to achieve success. A bond and shared learning developed over a lifetime. This is a great way to honor both characters and so I highly recommend this issue.

    But ya done good, Maud.
    Ya done good!

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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