• Let's Review: Generations #1

    The pony train keeps on going! The main IDW line may have run its course but we have a five-issue series carrying the Mane Six forward as they meet their older counterparts.

    Let's see what sets this meeting in motion. Just be careful: then as now, there will be spoilers!
    When I said Friendship is Magic #102 didn't feel like a true ending, I didn't expect to be covering another issue a week later. Yet here we are, with a writer/artist duo whom I don't recognize. A search for Casey Gilly turned up a history of comics journalism on Comic Book Resource and three comic anthologies to which she's contributed: Mine!, Star Wars Adventuers, and YOU DIED. So this series might be her first stand-alone work.

    Who wouldn't feel happy seeing this welcome?

    Illustrating this crossover adventure is Michela Cacciatore. Much like Gilly, I couldn't find many stand-alone entries. Her primary work thus far has revolved around a French comic, Léna, rêve d'étoile. So I have very little with which to compare her work; though that doesn't matter because her skill at drawing the characters is impressive! The proportions, setting, and mobility all feel reminiscent of the show. While Cacciatore doesn't feature background references and in-jokes like other IDW artists, she does present a strong showing of both human and pony characters.

    "We changed my magical aura's color!"

    The largest art dissonance I felt were a few panels where the charaters expessions didn't quite match the mood. Pinkie greets lunchtime with her trademark squeal, yet her expression conveys much greater concern. Similarly, Starlight has several scenes where she is trying to lead, but the overall reaction suggest more of a dictatorial approach.

    "A-Mane-Zing." I shouldn't enjoy that.
    But what the hay.

    Starting this story off requires us to walk in two spheres. On the pony side of things, the School of Friendship is fit to bursting with students. It seems that the aftermath of Twilight's coronation and the battle against the Windigos and Triad, more and more ponies have taken an interest in learning about friendship. My money's on most of them wanting to learn how to shoot rainbow lasers. This leads to the comic addressing a question that's been on fans minds since Season 8. How are the Mane Six supposed to have full teaching careers and full-time businesses at once?

    "Dash, what have I told you about putting your cutie mark next to my eyes?"

    This leads to Starlight making decisions for the school, which demonstrates her role as headmare. Starlight's been conscpicuously absent from the comics since the Accord arc and Friends Forever #35. A brief appearance during the final issues, but mostly she seems to be pony-non-grata for the last 52 issues. I'm glad to see how she is handling the school, though surprised that she's still conducting business from her counseling office. This is a case of Cacciatore following the show's design too closely, or perhaps Starlight's not yet ready to sit in the big chair.

    If there are any naughty magazines in the mail, it's because
    Sunburst ordered them for a friend... Trixie.

    Whatever the case, I find it curious that she mentions Spike helping with her research. It seems Spike is pulling double-duty or at least helping out with the transition. Yet he doesn't make an appearance this issue, making me wonder if we'll see Spikes collide between G1 and G4.

    Is she generating that chart?
    Her imagination is terrible!

    One of the key things for Starlight's involvement here is that she doesn't know what to do. In the Accord arc, I think they gave her too much authority of a situation. Always seeing what other missed. Knowing what to say, to the point where she even lectured Celestia. Much like "The Mean Six", this story isn't afraid to show Starlight at a loss for what to do. She's in the situation with her friends and is feeling her way through the unknown. While this sounds unpleasant, it's also something with which the audience can recognize and perhaps empathize.
    Your school saved Equestria, twice!
    I'd say it's historically more important.

    The other realm which we see is Gloom Volcano (or the Volcano of Gloom); home of the Witches. Once upon a time, that term applied to Hydia and her two bumbling daughters, Reeka and Draggle. These three were one of the rarest sights in My Litte Pony: recurring villains. They unleashed the Smooze on the world in the movie, and later stole the sun stone from Flutter Valley by allying with a selfish bee race.

    I'm guessing their daughters take more after the fathers.

    The current residents seem to reflect the time change as they are Reeka and Draggle's daughters: Dyre and Grackle. No mention if Hydia has kicked the bucket, but I get the sense she's too angry to die. These new witches have a very different feel from their predacessors. Reeka and Draggle were often depicted as lazy and clumsy. They would only act if Hydia threatened them into action.

    I can only imagine Dyre's skill with
    a razor to get that cut.


    Dyre is a much more expressive kind of witch. Favoring a punk look and a lean build, she dreams of rock bands and full-contact sports. Truth be told, she and Rainbow Dash would get along great. Dyre has a sensitive side, but she does her best to hide it as part of the "bad girl" facade. I have no idea why she and her cousin have Equestria Girl style skin tones. It could be magical, it could be a miscommunication, or it could be wholly intentional.

    Admitting love? That's an impressive step up from their grandmother.


    Grackle matches Dyre's punk look, but I get the impression is more for the sake of connecting with her cousin. Grackle's own expressiveness comes from creation. She utiziles magic to create food and costumes. Though having a rounder frame than Dyre, she's not presented as the glutton we saw in Draggle. Grackle is a mirror of Rarity as she finds enjoyment in fashion with a hint of anime. Yes, they apparently have anime in the world of G1 My Little Pony. I am suddenly curious to see this.

    Welp, so much for maturity

    Both witches seem more compliant and active than their mothers. If anything, they also seem less villainous because their view of the world is warped by their surroundings. As part of their banishment, magic will not work anywhere outside the Volcano. Given that magic is foundational to both these girls' lives, this amounts to prison sentence. So their view of ponies rings with a sense of victimhood and disdain, even though they've never had a direct confrontation.

    Can your magic make the volcano spread out further?
    No, wait. That's called an eruption. Bad idea!

    They won't do so yet since the Mane Six reside in a separate dimension. The only character who has agency in both worlds is the rat Trench. A far cry from a threatening beast like the spidery Ahgg who served the older witches, Trench serves as a spy with some physical comedy. However, this also highlights the mixed messages the art can convey. Aftering a bannana peel puts Trench under a bust he himself pushed over, he's actually smiling after it smashes atop him.

    Did he enjoy that?

    The Witches utilize some stolen letters and begin mocking the school as they plan to undermine it. Yet they face the same problem as before: action outside their magical boundary. So instead of going themselves (and raising any number of questions), they conspire to create allies out of the smooze. An instresting idea, given that the smooze of G1 doesn't seem to lend itself to creation.

    Imagine waking up one morning and seeing this on the horizon.

    Forget the loving green blob from Season five. The original smooze is the closest thing we've gotten to an eldrich horror. It has no genuine thought, only a desire to spread, consume, and sing. Seriously, its theme song is perhaps the most memorable aspect of G1. The smooze would spread across the world, smothering everything underneath or corrupting the emotions of any it touched. The only thing that slowed it down was a lack of an ingredient called a flume.

    I now know what H.R. Geiger's bonsai bush would look like.

    That detail's important as the witches send Trench on a quest to gather all the necessary ingredients. The flume is so hard to gather that the elder witches sing an enitre song of gathering slime, muck, mildew, and filth with glee so long as they don't have to get this final ingredient. Trench is somehow able to gather all the needed ingredients long, boardgame inspired trip that doesn't even mention the flume. Given that we haven't yet seen the G1 ponies in action, any detail can help support this story's main draw.

    Doom through pizza!

    Which brings us to the greatest absence by this issue's end. What is the hook? Many crossovers hint at an unknown force prompting the crossover or the threat of battles between the protagonists. By this issue's end, we know who will be the antagonists and how they came into being. In fact, we know more than the lead cast. This can backfire on a story as it becomes a test of patience waiting for our leads to catch up. The biggest question is when will we see the promised crossover?

    Have you seen the world lately?
    We could use a few schools like that!

    There's still four issues to flesh out our newest antagonists and see how the Mane Six meet their predecessors. At the same time, a big part of this first issue is creating a fun enough situation that the reader will want to come back for the next. The mixed signals with the artwork are an obstacle to this. After all, slapstick isn't fun if the suffering character looks like they're enjoying it. For me, the biggest enjoyment is seeing how Starlight and crew consider the immediate problem. Dyre and Grackle are a fun introduction, but I get the sense that we've seen a majority of their characters in this issue. Next time, it'll be finding out what the Smooze has wrought and if we'll get some of those G1 ponies.

    You said you have a P.H.D. in... "Ass Whooping?"

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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