• Let's Review: Generations #2

    The situation escalates as the G1 witches' descendants send their agents amongst Starlight's School of Friendship. Who are these new ponies and what do they have planned for the School?

    Catch the full review, plus spoilers, after the break!

    So last issue we received an introduction to our kinda-G1-antgaonists. Now we get to meet our not-quite-G4-antagonists. Yet before talking about them, let's look over a complaint from last issue that will carry forward through this one. Sharp-eyed fans recognized multiple poses that match show screenshots. As an example, here's a Pinkie Pie pose:

    From these happy friends of MIIIIIIINE!

    Pretty recognizable. Yet before we all reach for our pitchforks, let's apply some basic Photoshop advanced digital analysis.

    That uvula twist haunts me.

    Though clearly using "A Friend in Deed" as a reference, there are a lot of individual elements that show this isn't a 1:1 trace. I get the impression that artist Michela Cacciatore is relying heavily on show references to create an accurate look, which explains a larger issue for me. We still witness events where the characters' expressions mismatch the tone. Case in point, while giving a tour to the new "teachers", Pinkie lays out a sugary sweet setting that should make lead smooze-pony Black Belle gulp in disgust. You wouldn't pick up this idea if you were just looking at that sneer.

    Pinkie's looking in her element. Those other three have resting evil face.

    This reliance on references seems to backfire as Cacciatore has trouble matching visuals to story. Yet this problem isn't expressed when we witness Grackle and Dyre interacting. Cacciatore is much more confident drawing these human characters. Plus there are occassions when a reference is not available and the show's rounded characters present a perspective problem. Yona here is a prime example.

    The latest diet craze: Cursing Cookies.

    So this comic's art is a study in how an artist might play to their strengths, use some crutches elsewhere, and sometimes just wing it!

    Don't think I've seen this in the show before!

    So who are these smooze-birth ponies, or S'monies as the witches call them? First up is the aforementioned Black Belle. A stallion(?) who enjoys fright through illusion spells yet also has the power for absolute destruction. I enjoy the duotone braid for the character's mane and the eye and hoof spots. A distinct look, and my favorite design for the new characters.

    Social distancing, Pinkie!

    Second favorite is Violet Shiver. This mare features elemental control, especially when it comes to the cold. This is reinforced by both her cutie mark and the crystal patterns on her hooves. She seems to be the one most preoccupied with nourishment. That is, taking happiness and love away from others. She also represents an element of the G1 smooze. Anything it touched became possessed by negativity. Thus Shiver makes it clear that the S'monies don't want to blow their cover through accidental contact.

    I'd attend a class on aggressive stomping!

    Bringing up the rear is Shadow Storm, who seems the least stylized. He stands out more because of his absence of pastels compared to his surroundings, but there's little to distinguish him. He seems the best at improvisation as he tries to maintain their cover as Hayvard University professors. He also has a skill at brainwashing and increasing hostility within a group while delighting in physical destruction.

    Typical day for these jobbers.

    Yet all these traits take some time to manifest for one simple reason: they don't know what they're doing. The middle of this issue makes it clear that Grackle and Dyre didn't plan this out. So they have to call back their creations just to exposte on how they should proceed. This comic also commits a crime in storytelling. Those three little words that signal blatant exposition. "As you know..."

    Parents of the freakin' year, here.

    If I could encourage every current and future writer out there, it would be to avoid this phrase. A character only utters something like this if this is a hasty attempt to bring the audience up to speed, or if they're being passive aggressive with an opponent. In the latter case, they're really saying "As you should know..."

    Amazed they can relax atop lava.
    What is that raft made of?

    Which might be the case with the witches, because the undertone throughout all their interacts is a cycle of verbal abuse. Their mothers are catching flack at a witches convention, so they write a condescending message to their children who in turn take out their anger on their creations. This trickle-down cruelty does add a hint of sympathy for each villain tier. In the S'monies case, they entered this environemnt and know no alternative. And we've seen that the teenage witches have been misinformed by their mothers to think themselves the victims.

    I feel I should at least give them artistic credit.

    The G4 cast are not aware they're caught in the crossfire. It starts with small events as the Student Six show some of their new teachers' lessons. For some reason, edgey characters look cool at the start and rarely do people consider how bad things could get over time.

    Sandbar... Being popular? What lunacy is this!

    Such is the case with the Students until the pranks become more intrusive and the town becomes collateral damage. We get some interaction with Starlight and the others as they feel the time burden has lifted, but don't yet recognize what is happening. Starlight has a moment of doubt but seemed cowed by the Hayvard title. This is a tough presentation because while she is vulnerable, she also has the ability to check with the University and confirm these three ponies' history. Is the rat Trench intercepting all her messages?

    Starlight's wrath will be severe.

    Either way, this issue is more about the escalation of events. Yet there are still no G1 ponies. Given the synopsis released for future issues, I don't think we'll get to see them in action until issue 4. This is a bridge issue taking us from introductions to the main conflict, but not having much identity on its own. The biggest character moment is the string of derision passing from parents down to agents, and its easy to overlook as the development is spread out between varying parties. We're not yet at the point where the ponies move from reactive to direct confrontation, and the villains are just getting started.

    Hasn't there been enough familial conflict in this issue?

    Issue #3 is going to have up the ante to keep the energy going. Let's hope we find out with less of a wait.

    Definitely don't recognize that expression!

    I'm Silver Quill. Thanks for reading!

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